ADA compliance for websites is becoming of greater importance for our clients. (See our ADA Compliance page for details.) We have been asked many times about automated compliance widgets like accessiBe and UserWay. On the surface, these appear to be quick, inexpensive solutions to become compliant. We do not trust them - and here is why you shouldn't either.
Many organizations make their websites compliant for their audience. If you are the American Foundation for the Blind, it is very likely that much of your audience has impairments and a WCAG compliant website will greatly enhance your ability to reach your web audience.
Other organizations may have a very small percentage of users who require this functionality, but become compliant to avoid potential litigation. Most of our clients fall into this category. As such, we must evaluate these tools on their basis to prevent litigation.
Sure - they claim to. And it looks great to have a widget for compliance on your site! But these tools do not make your website WCAG compliant. This article from NBC News exposes the issues with trusting accessiBe.
A more detailed run down can be found in this article titled "accessiBe Will Get You Sued". The article also details deceptive business practices to avoid negative feedback in accessiBe's tools. The author, a member of the W3C HTML Accessibility Task Force, details how accessiBe's widget is designed to spoof compliance-checking tools to create positive test results.
Another article by a member of the W3C ARIA Working Group (and the creator of the Web Accessibility Toolbar) outlines why autmomated tools do not work, despite their numerous promises.
These tools do provide some functionality. And they demonstrate an attempt by the site owner to provide accessible content.
But whether your goal for making your website accessible is to assure that those with disabilities can access your website content or to simply avoid potential litigation from having a non-compliant website, automated tools miss both marks and will leave you legally exposed.