Businesses looking for an easy accessibility fix are purchasing widgets and overlays claiming to fix all their website accessibility problems by simply inserting one line of code.
One company getting attention announced receving 12 million in funding to create a product that promises to make websites accessible through AI.
Their marketing cleverly avoids the fact that a judge requires that the website be audited by an accessibility specialist who tests the website for compliance through proper testing procedures and with the knowledge of what is required to meet accepted legal and guidelines standards.
Applying an automatic accessibility solution does not prevent ADA demand letters, written complaints, class action lawsuits and accessibility lawsuits by plaintiffs facing discrimination because the website is not built for them to use.
Taking the Easy Way Out of Accessibility Design
With automatic solutions, no longer does a company need to hire designers and developers trained in website accessibility compliance. There is no need for proper testing because the app may do that for you every day. They claim to know the accessibility laws for every country, state and province, so you don’t have to.
The most popular automatic accessibility solution claims it may even prevent an ADA lawsuit by updating your accessibility statement, clearly admitting the website is not tested with disabled people.
It is not tested or maintained by an Accessibility Specialist either.
If there is an issue for anyone trying to use the website, you will never know how to fix it and besides, for the money you’re paying for the automatic repair job, you can’t be sued, right?
I hear from small business owners who don’t have the money to pay for an accessibility specialist (even someone inexpensive like me.)
They are convinced they are safe by purchasing accessibility overlays or widgets, such as one that charges $490 to $3490 a year.
Remember, one line of code means no customer journey to understand how disabled people use your website.
Why bother to pay developers to properly code ARIA for screen readers if an app will make the page work automatically? It does do that, right?
You checked, right?
You know how to check this, right?
It amazes me that anyone would put their company in the hands of one line of code that promises to make the website work for everyone, regardless of any physical, mental or emotional disability or impairment, permanent or temporary.
Do you know how to present your content for someone with dyslexia? How about autism? People who are colorblind? Do you know how your web pages work on an Apple iPhone with accessibility features turned on? How about an Android? What if your user has no mouse? No voice? No sight? No hearing? No short term memory?
You may feel that there is no way you can possibly make a website work universally for everyone. This is actually a goal by some companies that do not wish to discriminate. They accept the challenge. They hire accessibility specialists who are advocates for the disabled.
AI solutions should not be your first choice if your goal is to own a website that is open for business for people.
First published August 25, 2020 by Kim Krause Berg