2019 Review: AudioEye Automated Accessibility Software

Updated April 14, 2020.

Review update: AudioEye is way, way too expensive for me to recommend.  Their insistence on charging you annually (and possibly locking you into a contract) makes them vs. a one-time audit and remediation cost is the primary reason why I can’t recommend them.

As part of their service, AudioEye will genuinely remediate your site to be accessible.  They have a good development team and you can expect to have an accessible website within 3-4 months.

(I believe this to still be the case in but their website is unclear as to what exactly they do – where they stop pitching their toolbar and the actual remediation begins).

The big problem is cost – it’s not really the upfront price so much as it is they require an annual subscription for that price.  After the first year, the value of the subscription really falls off a cliff despite the add-ons like knowledgeable accessibility support and continual promise to maintain the accessibility of your website (which isn’t that much value unless you’re constantly overhauling your website).

The overlay accessibility menu (I think they’re calling this AudioEye Pro but I’m not sure), as with all overlays, is near worthless.

From what I can tell, one of your website visitors could access accessibility support from the overlay so that’s a plus but there are better, less expensive options in the market.  Also, you could train someone within your company specifically for accessibility support.

What you need is never the toolbar overlay, it’s always the actual manual work but accessibility companies always want to sell you the stuff they can automate and hold back on the real work.

My impression is AudioEye will do the real work necessary but it’s going to come entangled with their automated toolbar, 24/7 monitoring, accessibility support, etc. and that leads to a high-priced recurring subscription that just isn’t worth it.

When I originally wrote this review, I spoke to Jill Micheli, a senior account executive at AudioEye, today and we went over a demo, what the company offers, and about accessibility in general.  Below are some of the highlights of the call.

Before we get to the Q & A, here’s an AudioEye YouTube demo for context:

Is it completely automated?

No.  The first part is.  This is where they scan your website and automate the fixes they can make through software.  I don’t have a list of the exact WCAG 2.0 AA elements they satisfy through automation but Jill informed me a good amount of the fixes can be solved automatically.

How long does it take to become accessible/ADA compliant?

It seems like once they take you on as a client, they begin the process of compliance by upgrading what they can, instituting their toolbar, and creating accessibility and certification statements.  It’s going to take about 3-4 months (depending on the complexity your website – may be less, may be more) for you to be actually be ADA compliant, though.

Do they provide accessible support?

Yes.  I think this is actually one of their bigger selling points.  The key is they do have knowledgeable people who can help people with disabilities if they need help.

I think support is important, I asked if you could buy this ala carte – you cannot.

Does their software work with WordPress CMS?

Yes.

Do they need to manipulate code?

Yes but they typically don’t need to overhaul your design to make your website more accessible.

Do they make apps accessible?

Yes.

How much do they cost?

Price is going to vary based on the website (simple websites will cost less and more dynamic/involved websites will cost more) and while Jill did provide me with some general ranges, she did say that it really depends on the site.  If you’ve got a larger company, you’re probably going to start at 5-figures a year and that this is a recurring cost with software, remediation, monitoring, and live help included.

The lowest you can expect to pay is probably mid 4-figures annually.  It’s a recurring cost, not one-time upfront fee.

Who are their competitors?

With accessibility companies, competition isn’t as simple as one vs. another because some are overlay vendors and others actually do manual work to assess and remediate the website.

Deque is a legitimate company and is more expansive in their offerings, whether it be services, tools, or training.

WebAIM is another 100% legit company.  I recommend them all the time.

AudioEye will actually do real remediation work but they still cling to having a toolbar although it does funnel into their accessibility support.

How much value is there in the support?

There’s some but you’d be better off doing some in-house training and skipping out on the ridiculous annual fee.

AccessiBe isn’t so much a competitor as it is primarily an overlay company.  AccessiBe advertises everywhere – YouTube, Google, LinkedIn, etc.  They’re even reaching out to marketing influencers like Neil Patel and Digital Ocean to try and convince people that AccessiBe is web accessibility.

That is a joke.

Anyways, I’ve got a separate AccessiBe review.

Of course, there are service providers such as BOIA (The Bureau of Internet Accessibility), Criterion 508, Crown Peak, Carroll, WebAim, Accessible 360, Be Accessible, Essential Accessibility, and Crown Peak.

What do I think?

AudioEye is way too expensive.

They’ve really priced themselves out of almost all of the non-corporate markets.

AudioEye’s initial year cost is probably worth it for remediation – maybe even a little bit more.

For example, let’s say you’re running a large website with lots of forms and media and you need it remediated quickly by a competent agency.  If AudioEye charged you $25,000 to get it done within 3 months, that’s probably reasonable (depending on the work load).

But there’s no way to justify charging that amount as a recurring annual subscription; the value just drops off a cliff after all the initial, upfront charge is made.

True, knowledgeable support is a nice value add-on and so are accessibility updates (such as updating for WCAG 2.1) but it’s not worth paying year over year for.

I advise paying up for a one-time development charge vs. signing up for years of a subscription service.