Ditch Overlays, Embrace the Real Fix

A corporate decision maker uses their pointer finger to push a small wooden cube forward. The cube is 3rd in a series of 5 cubes, and has a brown image of people shaking hands on it. The other 4 blocks are in the background and depict people in ties.

by Steve Levine

Accessibility shortcuts? Buckle up, we are tearing down the illusion.

For starters, disregard a mindset of “click and voila” then magic happens. Overlays might claim instant inclusivity, but they’re more like digital band-aids covering gaping accessibility wounds. Following are reasons why overlays, often falsely referred to as quick fixes, actually harm both businesses and users:

  • Forget Privacy: Overlays behave as a peeping Tom that can snoop on user data, potentially violating privacy laws. Not cool.
  • Incomplete Picture: Overlays only catch a fraction of accessibility issues, leaving 40-70% of problems lurking in the shadows. Simply put, it does not get the job done.
  • False Alarm: Overlays give a fake sense of security, making one think their site is accessible when it’s not. It is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
  • Tech Tangle: Overlays often clash with assistive technologies, forcing users to learn a new system for every site visited. Talk about frustrating those that we want to help.
  • Expert Eye Roll: Accessibility pros frequently diss overlays for introducing more bugs than they fix and perpetuating discrimination. Yikes.

Have no fear because there is a better way. Instead of masking problems, let’s fix them at the root. Here is a recipe for true accessibility:

  1. Listen Up: Talk to real users with disabilities. Understand their needs and preferences. Bonus points for building trust and loyalty.
  2. Accessibility Audit Time: Hire a pro to scan your site for accessibility roadblocks. Think of it as a digital deep clean.
  3. Prioritize the Fixes: Not all issues are created equal. Focus on the biggest offenders first.
  4. Roll Up Your Sleeves: Time to remediate and implement the fixes. Restructure design, rewrite content, and clean up code.
  5. Test, Test, Test: Use screen reader software to see if the website works effectively for everyone.
  6. Accessibility Is Not a One-Shot Deal: Keep testing, learning, improving, and evolving. Maintenance matters.

By ditching the overlay illusion and embracing a multi-step approach with real user insights and professional audits, you are creating a website that is welcoming to all visitors. That is not just good business, but it is also the right thing to do.

In the end, overlays are a dead-end and not a shortcut. By investing in true accessibility, you will have a website that succeeds for everyone.

Steve Levine, Senior Marketing Research Analyst at Tamman, Inc., combines 20+ years of research proficiency with a Master’s in Digital Innovation from Temple University’s Fox School of Business. His expertise in methodology includes data visualization, voice of consumer efforts, and diverse research techniques that equip him to offer profound insights for intelligent decision-making that emphasizes accessibility in both the corporate landscape and everyday life.

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