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Why Accessibility Plugins Aren't Enough for ADA Compliance

Posted May 06, 2021


Posted May 06, 2021

Illustration of a web browser with three indicators showing accessibility issues
Illustration of a web browser with three indicators showing accessibility issues

Making your website compliant has many benefits, especially in a web-first world. Here's why automation on its own will not solve digital accessibility.

Accessibility Plugins: The Promise

For many organizations, keeping websites compliant with digital accessibility laws is an uphill struggle. With many other business concerns jostling for attention, it is all too easy for compliance tasks related to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) to slip lower on the agenda.  

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have greatly reduced manual workload in many areas. For certain common website elements, sophisticated automation such as accessibility plugins can fix many basic problems. Repetitive areas of noncompliance can be identified and automatically corrected without any costly or time-consuming human input. However, reaching compliance is much more nuanced than just: “Run this web plugin and all your ADA issues will be fixed!”

A conveyor belt with indicators on the belt showing accessibility issues being fix automatically

Accessibility Plugins: The Reality 

Within certain clearly delineated areas, automated analysis and remediation are effective tools that can make a big difference in website accessibility, quickly and cost-effectively.  

Here at AudioEye, we use advanced AI and have exceptional stats on ADA compliance success rates with plugins. However, based on our extensive experience, we know that today’s web design, development and content management practices mean that even the best automated solutions miss a significant percentage of digital accessibility issues.  

Capturing and correcting every type of accessibility concern is well beyond the powers of a purely technological solution. Naturally, automation is evolving and improving, but at the same time, web content is growing and diversifying, with novel techniques and delivery methods being constantly added. As a result, new and more subtle accessibility complications will continue to arise.

A conveyor belt with indicators on the belt showing only some of the accessibility issues being fix automatically

Why Human Expertise Is Still Vital 

Precedents in U.S. courts suggest that compliance does not mean perfect theoretical adherence to the targeted standards. Rather, successful defendants in ADA lawsuits are able to show that people with disabilities can access the core functionality of their websites using personal assistive technology as appropriate. And because legislation such as the ADA is aligned with practical outcomes rather than following rigid rules, it is vital to have an element of human judgment in the mix. An automated accessibility plugin can easily see if a particular yes-or-no issue has been resolved. To determine whether a website is usable by a real human requires real human input! 

Today, the only workable way to manage digital accessibility is through a hybrid approach, combining best-in-class automation with leading human expertise. Use accessibility plugins to rapidly resolve the simple problems, then bring in expert human testing and manual remediation to uncover and remove the remaining accessibility obstacles. 

AudioEye’s unique hybrid approach combines the best of automation with adept manual testing and legal support, helping you achieve a holistic approach to compliance with the relevant legislation. We take advantage of automation’s strengths to reduce manual time and effort, reserving experts to work on the high-value resolution areas. 

An accessibility icon surrounded by two icons that represent finding and fixing accessibility errors manually

Our goal is to help you achieve ongoing conformance to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards — both to keep your site accessible to all users and to protect your business from the growing threat of digital accessibility lawsuits. Learn more about digital accessibility, or sign up for a free trial of AudioEye’s unique hybrid solution. 

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