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Web Accessibility Overlays: Good or Bad?

Posted by Equalweb on Sep 27, 2021 3:36:56 AM

Accessibility overlays are applications and coding that "assembles" between your website (or other digital content) and assistive technology. Their goal is to allow business owners the ability to make their website more accessible without having to change the underlying source code, thus providing accessibility in a fraction of time than it would take otherwise. There are several different types of accessibility overlays from tool-based options such as toolbar plugins or JavaScript models for example. Still, hardware versions can also be utilized if desired by those with physical disabilities like low vision due to eye disease or injury, etcetera who will benefit from a more effortless navigation experience on websites since they still have some limited use at least within these functions accessibility overrides essentially "sit" between. In this article, technical and legal issues related to overlays will be explored. Certain types of overlay technology may significantly impact the people using them because they are easier for users with disabilities or limited mobility to use than traditional interfaces such as keyboards and mice. Not all technologies work equally well; some show design challenges in terms of usability while others pose intellectual property risks that could affect developers and content providers – two very different groups who frequently don't talk about these topics together!

Who could take advantage of these?

Websites are often made of technologies, including content management systems and 3rd party tools. Sometimes they're entirely custom coded too! The smaller the business, the more likely you'll be using these kinds of software rather than relying on fully custom coding everything yourself.

Why are systems like WordPress, Elementor, Wix, Shopify, and others so popular? They make it possible for someone to go from minimal knowledge of building a website to having one in days (sometimes hours) using only a couple of hundred dollars. Building websites the old-fashioned way would likely take 20 or 30 times as much money and time, which is why these modern platforms have grown exponentially over the past several years.

You may be overcome with a sense of dread when you have to work on your company's website and want it done as quickly, cheaply, and creatively as possible. Fear not! Now some tools allow anyone even those who don't know anything about code or design to create beautiful websites without quickly needing developers. That means significant cost savings in time and money from concept creation through production; make sure this is taken into account if one day you find yourself at the helm of an online business venture! The best part about this new trend in web design is that you can do all of it without having even one line of code written - majorly saving money and speeding up production times by leaps and bounds thanks to not requiring developers/engineers at every step along the way!

The problem with these websites: (Not the overlays)

Technology can be complicated, but it doesn't have to be inaccessible. Accessible software not only makes life easier for those with disabilities or impairments, but they're also better for everyone: people without a disability who can use the technology more efficiently and effectively as well. Designers need to prioritize accessibility in their work so that lives will continue being improved through innovative design solutionsno matter if this is accomplished by engineering an accessible framework from scratch or building on top of existing ones like Bootstrap and Foundation, which already include features dedicated specifically towards making websites ADA compliant (including keyboard shortcuts such as Tab+Shift). The time and investment it takes to build correctly are not worth it for many companies. It's more convenient, easier on their budget, and ultimately less reliable than a custom solution.

The majority of businesses would prefer a quicker fix over one that may needlessly take longer or be difficult if they can even afford such measures.

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The Overlay Appeal:

Accessibility issues are a rapidly growing problem that can significantly hinder individuals with disabilities from accessing content on websites and web-based applications. This is significant because, according to statistics collected by W3techs (a website monitoring company), over 50% of all internet users in North America use mobile devices at some point during their browsing sessions which means they may not be able to access an application if it isn't optimized for screen size or has accessibility features turned off. While many companies want to make sure their sites are accessible but don't know where/how to start, others can't afford expensive coding modifications, so turn towards overlay technology as an alternative solution! With nearly zero requirements when compared against current solutions like conversion tools.

Current challenges with overlay technologies:

In recent years, there has been an increased investment in overlay technologies. These are designed to help make our lives easier by letting us access information anywhere at any time from a variety of devices. Though this all sounds great on the surface, underneath, it's not as pretty: we need a plan for what is going to happen when things go wrong with these systems and how they will affect people's daily life routines if something goes awry without warning or that becomes inaccessible during emergencies like natural disasters - mainly because many cities have emerged as more vulnerable than before.

Firstly, let us discuss technical limitations.

Tool-based overlays will use AI or machine learning to try to guess the high-level tags and attributes. These tools make minor, generic changes that are not always sufficient for accessibility needs. As a result of this substandard quality, many people with disabilities do not benefit from these tool-based approaches by being unable to pass WCAG success criteria.

It is not hard to find an example of a site that has incorrectly written alt attributes. With overlays, these mistakes become more apparent and can be incredibly confusing for someone who relies on them when browsing through their favorite sites. In one case study, you might have seen no image with an alt attribute at all, which would ordinarily fail WCAG success criteria; however, due to the technology's limitations, it becomes even worse than just having lousy information as this misuse provides misleading content instead. The good thing about this concept is that we know how complex text-based descriptors are, but writing specific descriptions takes time, energy, and money. Most website owners will either choose something generic or leave out any description altogether.

Tool-based overlays pose challenges for people with disabilities as they require people to use their specific overlay assistive technology.

Next, let us discuss legal threats.

In a world where everything can be framed as liability and shifted onto someone else, that's when we need to exercise caution. So what better place than exploring accessibility risk litigators? Many organizations view these solutions as arising from responsibility in litigation cases because they claim this is true in many instances. Some of them may see it simply as shifting blame upon themselves if ever sued or claiming "we tried" by implementing tool-based overlay technologies which seemed foolproof at first glance but are now seen more critically overtime - only after much money has been spent on implementation into their organization without any success!

The technology for overlays has been around since the early 2000s, and many websites have fallen victim to lawsuits because of them. Recently, two companies were sued by Google for a false sense of security that they've given their users due to these technologies. These sites are appealing but could lead you into legal trouble if not taken with extreme caution before agreeing to utilize them as your website's overlay software. 

Protect Your Business With Equalweb 1,000,000$ Accessibility Warranty

Not all overlay technologies are inadequate.

The concept of an accessibility overlay is not inherently wrong. There are cases where a person with specific disabilities can benefit from using it to make their experience better when interacting with content or applications that they would otherwise be unable to fully access without the added features provided by this technology, such as videos and games.

The idea behind these overlays is that they should always serve the user- placing them between any potential barrier for them to have complete control over how their information flows through unaltered channels into what amounts essentially being another world altogether.
Below are a couple of examples where this concept is applied practically to improve the user experience.

Overlays helping to transition old technologies

The unprecedented demand for solutions to make websites accessible has led many developers and designers into a tough spot. Should they spend months or even years updating the website with complicated code that would otherwise be inaccessible? Or should they create an interim solution to save lives while still giving their work time to mature? Some of these webmasters have turned towards JavaScript-based overlay browsers as means by which accessibility can happen on any site without requiring massive changes from within.

EqualWeb Accessibility Solution Widget Overlays in new cutting-edge technologies

EqualWeb is at the forefront of developing accessibility solutions and manual remediation so that businesses can maintain their compliance despite constant content and design updates. With our customizable WCAG Monitoring Scan, we provide regular reports to help companies to maintain compliance while also providing a better user experience than alternative methods for improving overall web performance on every device- your site will be accessible from any browser or Internet connection with no loss in speed, accuracy, or usability.


Overlays are all the rage for their potential to help people with disabilities do what they need on a website. However, as we pointed out earlier, both good and evil come from these overlays.

They can hurt an individual's experience by being too difficult to use or even making something unusable altogether! And while those who work closely in this field may know how best to use them safely under ADA law, others might not be aware of the legal risks involved when using such tools without first checking up on them themselves.

To make sure your website is accessible and lower the risk of a lawsuit, start with an accessibility review. This will give you a baseline on what needs fixing for people who use this type of technology; identify key barriers that need attention first to keep working towards more inclusive design practices in every stage from web development to enterprise-level management, and put plans in place with long-term solutions.

Why are the steps necessary? It's important because it benefits those using special devices and because best practice dictates companies be compliant with laws like Section 508 amendments or Title III revisions that require testing their products against standards such as WCAG 2AA compliance before release (or any customer service).

Monitor & Scan

Monthly, check for accessibility issues. This catches 30-50% of website accessibility problems [in an average company].

With the EqualWeb WCAG Monitoring Scan, you get to:

  • Monitor your website in real-time and receive your detailed accessibility report.
  • Clear remediation guidelines on how to fix these issues.
  • Schedule your scans to monitor any design or content changes on your website.
  • Follow the changing guidelines and receive the best practices when it comes to accessibility.

Accessibility Report

Manual testing provides a complete examination of accessibility across the defined web pages, yielding more information than automated or rules-based scanning. This is a great option when you need to ensure every aspect of your content is accessible and provide documentation of issues and resolutions. You can view EqualWeb's accessibility report.


If you need help implementing accessibility remediation through EqualWeb's remediation plan, we can also provide tips through our 24/7 Help Desk.

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Topics: Web Accessibility, Artificial Intelligence, Accessibility, assistive technologies, EqualWeb

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