Date:
7 June 2021
Author:
Danielle Sheffler

See video transcript

Acknowledging Global Accessibility Awareness Day 

This year, 20 May marked the 10th year of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). GAAD was created by Jennison Asuncion and Joe Devon to spread awareness about digital accessibility and people with disabilities.

At Salsa, we care deeply about being transparent and growing our skills via a continuous learning culture. For example, we were transparent about learning something new when building our new website last year and when we completed our accessibility audit of the new site. We wanted to do the same with accessibility overlays. Most people in our team didn’t know what overlays were and how they’re detrimental to people with disabilities — so we got together during GAAD to find out more, and to advocate for doing the right thing.

During the presentation, we reviewed the following topics:

  1. The definition of an accessibility overlay
  2. What is included in an overlay
  3. Why we shouldn’t use them
  4. Helpful websites

Accessibility overlays are widgets that promise they can meet WCAG 2.0 AA or WCAG 2.1 AA compliance via a single line of code. They also promise those in the United States that they will meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance and will prevent you from being sued. Some examples of these overlays are AccessiBe, UserWay, AudioEye, and Recite.me.

Each widget has its own set of options but some examples are: resizing text, updating colour contrast, updating text size, and screen readers.

So if these overlays have options that appear to be beneficial to users, and the overlay companies say they can make a site compliant, why shouldn’t we use them? While there are many issues with these overlays, the biggest ones are that accessibility is not solely about lawsuits, it’s about empathy. Many assistive technology users already have these features available and overlays cause interference and make accessibility worse, and it’s impossible to meet all accessibility guidelines via an automated process.

When the presentation was over, the team asked thought-provoking questions about tools to use during development, if there would ever be a time when these overlays will prove useful, how we bake accessibility into our project lifecycle, and how our developers can learn more about accessibility guidelines and how to use screen readers.

To learn more about accessibility overlays, please watch the presentation and contact us with any questions.

Free accessibility resources

You may also be interested in our free accessibility resources, such as our free accessibility assessment of your homepage using 10 manual WCAG 2.0 AA testing standards, Salsa’s scoring sheet and testing checklist, accessibility audit template and accessibility starter kit.

Get our free accessibility resources