The Trouble with Accessibility Overlays

I think I first became familiar with when their clients started getting sued for accessibility issues ( Among people working in the accessibility field, overlays like Accessibe have such a bad reputation that 700 specialists have signed the Overlay Fact Sheet ( explaining the pitfalls of accessibility overlays.

In my own testing, I’ve noticed that Accessibe is blocked by certain ad blockers and also fails to load if visitors are using certain VPNs. Even when they do load, they also fail to significantly improve performance on accessibility tests. I ran an accessibility test on the National Voter Registration site and it failed miserably regardless of whether Accessibe was enabled or disabled (see the full results here). Here’s a quick summary of what I found:

With Accessibe enabled:

  • Errors: 3
  • Contrast errors: 5
  • Alerts: 27

With Accessibe disabled:

  • Errors: 12
  • Contrast errors: 5
  • Alerts: 30

Sadly, as far as I can tell, the main thing that Accessibe does really well is convince site owners that they’re improving things for their special needs visitors. They don’t prevent people from getting sued, they don’t help people pass accessibility tests, and in a lot of circumstances they fail to load at all.

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