How to Find Effective Solutions Using Accessibility Overlay Tools

Every web owner wishes to reach the highest number of people possible, but you need accessible design and content to achieve it. However, a quarter of all adults in the United States have a disability, and more people prefer user-friendly websites. More importantly, digital accessibility is a civil right and an ethical requirement. It is also frequently a legal requirement due to civil rights legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.


So, websites should be accessible to all users, regardless of their abilities. But, the real question is how to achieve this objective. In the 1990s, technology companies offered third-party web products like accessibility overlay tools that add accessibility features to existing sites without modifying the source code. Some of these overlays include text-to-speech functionality that reads page content aloud. Controls that let users resize text or change color schemes are others.


These accessibility overlay plugins appear to be beneficial, but in practice, they can be insufficient or even frustrating for the users they are attempting to serve. Auto-generated alt text, for example, is frequently strange and irrelevant, causing more confusion than clarity for people who use screen readers. In addition, adjusted keyboard navigation occasionally fails, and some user interface control panels interfere with screen readers, braille devices, and other assistive technology.


A Better Approach to Website Accessibility

The WCAG guidelines' authors organize their standards around four overarching principles. Accessible content must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.


Web designers may find it difficult to build to WCAG standards; after all, they include well over 80 success criteria. However, with the proper testing protocols, accessibility overlay tools can continue to help improve your websites for as long as they are online. As stated by the Auditor in their legal exhibit, no automated software can detect every WCAG violation. Instead, a combination of testing software and human testers representing a diverse audience provides the best visibility into accessibility issues. So, once you have identified the problems, you can resolve them.