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Accessibility Overlays: What Are They?

January 20, 2022 No Comments

Featured article by Bernadine Racoma, Content Manager of eTranslation Services

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Overlays are utilized by businesses and organizations looking for a quick and cost-effective solution to establish accessibility compliance online. Business owners who recently realized the importance of accessibility for ethical and legal reasons usually lack in-house resources and expertise to resolve accessibility issues efficiently. As a result, majority turn to accessibility overlay enhancements on their online platforms to avoid complications, such as getting sued under the ADA.

The function of accessibility overlay tools is honestly attractive and simple at first glance. They consist of snippets of code, and your website will automatically become entirely accessible for everyone. As automated software solutions, they can identify and resolve web-based accessibility issues. By modifying the code of a web page using a snippet or JavaScript, users with disabilities receive the same quality and information on your platform.

Accessibility overlays typically come in the form of a toolbar, app, plugin, or widget. While beneficial, business owners must understand that these online tools are not a one-size-fits-all compliance solution. Overlays do not make any changes to your website’s source code. They work by detecting accessibility issues, such as text size, color, and contrast, and make the necessary alterations immediately.

There are also custom accessibility overlays that resolve the flaws of your online publishing systems better than standard overlay tools. Custom overlay solutions are specifically designed for your website’s source code but do not alter your code altogether.

Not all overlay tools are bad

Due to the inherent nature of what accessibility tools aim to achieve, these enhancements are not bad. There are instances where accessibility overlay technologies can enhance the user experience for people with specific disabilities. An accessibility overlay sits between the source content and end-users to establish inclusivity.

Overlays help old technologies transition smoothly 

There is an urgent need for companies to resolve accessibility issues as soon as possible in this day and age. For instance, healthcare professionals who need quick access to all essential medical information could potentially save lives. Sadly, many businesses use outdated and overly complicated systems that could take months for developers to resolve underlying issues.

Using accessibility overlays as a temporary solution allows for customized changes to web pages, making digital content easily accessible. It provides essential solutions to end-users while giving developers ample time to rebuild a site’s technical infrastructure.

Utilizing overlays in breakthrough technologies

Many tech companies are at the cusp of developing cutting-edge technologies, hardware, and software solutions. A good example is Microsoft’s large-format touchscreen desktop devices. These solutions utilize innovative hardware and software systems that people with visual impairments and similar disabilities may find challenging to use altogether.

By using accessibility overlay tools, users with disabilities can overcome spatial understanding and other barriers in using newer devices and technologies. In addition, well-developed overlay tools enhance user experience and are preferred over other alternative online solutions.

Final thoughts

If you are looking to make your website more accessible and appealing to users while lowering your risk of getting sued, utilizing accessibility overlay tools as one part of a more comprehensive solution will provide you a greater level of confidence and security for your business organization.

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Bernadine Racoma is the Content Manager of eTranslation Services. Her long experience in an international development institution and extensive travels have provided her a wealth of knowledge and insights into cultural diversity. She writes to inform, engage, and share the idea of the Internet being a useful platform for communicating, knowledge sharing, educating, and entertaining. You can find Bernadine Racoma at Google Plus, on Facebook and Twitter.


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