What are the problems with accessibility overlays that claim to improve accessibility on websites for people with disabilities?

In recent years, 'accessibility overlays' that try to improve user accessibility by automatically modifying / changing the structure of websites, color of characters, and in some cases source code by AI and providing reading functions, etc. It is beginning to be introduced on some sites. However, in reality, various problems have been reported, such as performance degradation due to the introduction, and accessibility of users who were accustomed to the site before the introduction.

For Blind Internet Users, the Fix Can Be Worse Than the Flaws --The New York Times


Should I Use An Accessibility Overlay?

Keyboards due to inadequate labeling of images, buttons, and forms in accessibility overlays, as well as improper display of headings on the page and inability to search and select specific parts of the page. Problems with overlays, such as the inability to interact with web pages using, have also been pointed out. Also, automated tools can make every text on the page a headline, making it difficult for users to access the part they want to read.

There are more than a dozen companies that provide such tools, of which AudioEye and UserWay are listed, and recent financial statements have recorded revenues of millions of dollars (hundreds of millions of yen). It is said that it is expanding its share. These companies have customers such as major companies such as Hulu, eBay and UNIQLO, as well as hospitals and local governments. To market a company, not only does the service make it easier for the visually impaired to use the Internet, but it also avoids the possible proceedings if the company does not make the site accessible. It seems that there is often a sense of security.

In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance guidelines have been established to ensure that all public institutions are available to persons with disabilities, with more than 15 state and local government organizations. It applies to virtually all businesses and organizations, including private organizations with employees and organizations that work for the benefit of the public (schools, public transportation, restaurants, banks, grocery stores, etc.).

In recent years, the number of lawsuits regarding this ADA compliance has increased, and the popularity of accessibility overlays has increased sharply under legal pressure. However, according to data collected by research firm's digital accessibility provider, more than 400 companies have been sued for accessibility in 2021 alone, despite installing accessibility widgets and overlays. ..

Blind radio enthusiast Patrick Padew has complained about accessibility overlays. Mr. Padew said that he used a screen reader to listen to what was written on the website by voice and enjoyed shopping for equipment using the keyboard, but because the site he always uses introduced accessibility overlays. So, the purchase button and search box can no longer be read by screen readers.

'Nothing improves my life, and I spend more time avoiding these overlays than working with websites,' Padu said of accessibility overlays.

In 2021, more than 700 accessibility advocates and web developers signed an open letter calling on organizations to stop using these tools, 'greatly exaggerating the practical value of new features' and 'overlays themselves.' May have accessibility issues. ' It has also been pointed out that many visually impaired people do not rely on accessibility overlays and are already using the Internet with screen readers and other software, and there is concern that the introduction of accessibility overlays may rather reduce accessibility. It has been.

Brian Basin, chief executive officer of Light House for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a non-profit advocacy and education organization, has filed a lawsuit over the fact that the introduction of accessibility overlays robbed blind employees of their jobs. It is said that the settlement was reached by the concession. However, while pointing out the issue of accessibility overlays, Basin said that 'automated software can dramatically improve the online experience for the visually impaired,' considering that tools can vary significantly in quality. I can imagine the future. Just as AI will eventually realize an autonomous vehicle, even if it is still confused now, I think it will eventually be executed correctly. '

in Web Service,   Design, Posted by log1p_kr