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Alvaro Montoro
Alvaro Montoro

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Myth: Overlays are enough to ensure Web Accessibility

There is an all-in-one article including every part from this series (if you want prefer to read it all at once instead of "by installments")

This is more a misconception among executives and people who make decisions about buying these types of solutions. The consensus in the Accessibility community is almost unanimous: overlays don't work. None of them fully work.

An overlay is an automated technology aimed at improving the accessibility of a website. It may come in many flavors: plug-ins, add-on libraries, toolbars, widgets... but their functionality is similar: modify the page's source code on the fly and repair the non-accessible code, replacing it with an accessible version. Something really tempting at an affordable price and with just a single line of JavaScript.

One line of JavaScript does not make a website 100% accessible. In some cases, the results may even be damaging. And all for just a little benefit, as people with disabilities already use tools that fix many of the issues that the overlays claim to fix.

As we mentioned in a previous section, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for Web Accessibility. And that's exactly what overlays try to be.

Things may change. While accessibility overlays may not be enough to ensure Web Accessibility at the moment, with the advances in AI and machine learning, they might become an alternative in the future. But currently, they aren't a solution.

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