AccessiBe amounts to a toolbar overlay and it won’t make your website accessible for numerous reasons.
Overlays that are supposedly for 100% complete website accessibility and ADA + 508 compliance are being pitched by numerous vendors and they don’t work.
For some of the many reasons why, visit OverlaysDontWork.com by Karl Groves.
Besides AccessiBe, Make Sense (MK-Sense.com), Get ADA Comply (GetADAComply.com), EqualWeb (EqualWeb.com), Max Access (MaxAccess.io) and UserWay (UserWay.org) are all overlays and I’m sure there are more. Anything that says it’s an instant fix is instantly telling you that it isn’t a real fix.
Making a website truly accessible takes manual remediation. There is no way around this.
You may think, well they’ll at least make my website more accessible until I fix it.
Relatedly, accessibility expert Adrian Roselli posted an excellent rundown titled #AccessiBe will get you sued.
Again, there is nothing on the market that can make your website accessible in two days. A toolbar overlay does not make your website accessible.
Also, there is no AI solution that makes your website accessible. We are years away from this taking hold. There is no product on the market remotely close to offering automated accessibility.
And if we were close – that AI solution would need to go in at the code level and edit your website. A toolbar overlay does not address your website’s actual accessibility and here’s a very fundamental and practical reason why: If a user doesn’t know to activate the toolbar overlay, then the inaccessible elements of your website remain.
But even if AccessiBe was able to instantly fix every programmatic accessibility issue with your website (and it absolutely does not), it still wouldn’t address the alternatives to media that are crucial to accessibility (headings, closed captions, alt text, text transcripts, audio descriptions).
Website accessibility requires manual remediation and only a small portion of accessibility issues can be handled with a scan. The toolbar Accessibe offers is only marginally helpful and is actually redundant for users of screen readers (i.e. AccessiBe acts like a different screen reader when screen reader users already have their own.)
The good news is if you don’t make any dramatic changes to your website, manual remediation is a one-time price and not a recurring subscription.
And, as you may have guessed, no toolbar instantly overlay/widget/plugin automatically remediates or fixes your website for accessibility.
Previously updated review:
I found AccessiBe.com when looking for AudioEye competitors and I was extremely skeptical upon first glance for two main reasons:
- They make they bold and impossible claim that they are the “only 100% automatic web accessibility solution”
- They cost $289 annually [UPDATE: Now $365 – June 12 UPDATE: Now $490 – This is very interesting as I was told this was not about the money for them yet they keep increasing their price point.] (vs. 5-figure starting range for most websites with AudioEye)
Nevertheless, I scheduled a demo to see what they were all about. Below is my review.
First and foremost, they should not be claiming to make your website accessible within 2 days or whatever lightning fast turnaround because they cannot deliver that.
Significant manual remediation is almost always necessary to make a website actually accessible.
If you’re a website owner just trying to figure out if this is a possible solution, let me just offer you this very flatly and quickly:
Installing AccessiBe basically amounts to putting a toolbar on your website that can make some adjustments of the website. But it does not make the website itself accessible. Moreover, many of the adjustments are already taken care of by screen readers for people who would most likely take advantage of said adjustments.
As for the demo, I talked to their Chief Technology Officer or CTO, Shir Ekerling.
I asked Shir who he thought their competitors are and he mentioned Level Access, UseableNet, and AudioEye with AudioEye being the only automated solution. We both agreed that AudioEye was like a hybrid as they are part automation, part manual remediation.
Here’s a Q&A style outline of my review:
What are some of the differences between AccessiBe and AudioEye?
Price is a big one. AudioEye is probably going to start at or near 5-figures annually for most companies. AccessiBe.com states their cost is $289/year [Now $365].
Another huge one is AudioEye provides live accessible support on client websites – like as in actual chat and phone support. AccessiBe does not.
An additional key difference is AccessiBe relies, to an extent, upon artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to make websites more accessible. To my knowledge, AudioEye isn’t here yet.
How good is the AI?
Shir told me it takes care of 96% of accessibility issues (me: no, it doesn’t). However, this is for certain website issues, not multi-media problems. One service AccessiBe offers separately is creating transcripts and closed captioning for audio and video. If you have significant audio and video, this will halt your path to accessibility as text transcripts and closed captioning is a large obstacle to becoming accessible. Oh, and PDFs require a separate package too.
What is their approach?
Like AudioEye, AccessiBe premises their product on WCAG 2.0.
They then take care of the easy fixes, what Shir referred to as 30% of accessibility such as color contrast, font size, font families, and animations. This all comes from their interface which is available for website users if you click on an icon (customizable on the client’s end). Just like with AudioEye, users can customize how they want to experience the website.
Next, they run AI to try and fix the rest of the non-accessible elements on the website.
How long does it take to finish?
I believe Shir said 2-3 days. It may have been 4. Whatever it was, it was only a few days. This marks another difference, because AudioEye is less automated, many of their remediation efforts take around 3-4 months; their website says usually less than 100 days.
AudioEye’s length of time is more in line with how long genuine remediation takes.
What about WCAG 2.1?
They said they’re working on it.
What’s something that impressed you?
AccessiBe’s image recognition can scan images and automatically assign alt text values to them. The image recognition can potentially extract images of text and convey that in the alt text – that’s potentially helpful, especially for companies that have hundreds, thousands, even millions of images.
The problem is if AccessiBe’s toolbar overlay isn’t activated, plaintiff’s law firms won’t know about the alt text when they run an automated scan.
They also said they have worked with one of the JAWS (popular screen reader) developers.
What is my impression?
They do not deliver website accessibility in a box – not even close. What you have to remember about automated accessibility providers is they are going to continue to get better as we move along but we are not at a point where a turnkey solution is possible.
There is significant work to be done and their claims of instant ADA compliance / accessibility are impossible.
Practically speaking, Accessibe might be good in the sense that a few plaintiffs’ law firms might see it and steer away but I can guarantee your inaccessible website elements, content, functioning does not automatically become accessible when you install AcccessiBe.