Ensuring your business website is accessible and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can be frustrating, but it’s super important.
It is expensive, time-consuming, and factors such as website updates can disrupt your design and break the code that makes your site accessible.
Also, compliance codes can change anytime, making it hard for you to keep up and ensure web accessibility at all times, leading your small to medium business to face ADA lawsuits.
This is where the web accessibility solution accessiBe comes in.
accessiBe is an affordable automated web accessibility solution that helps you achieve Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and ADA compliance.
In this accessiBe review, we’ll dive into all it’s features and functionalities, the technology at the back end and learn about web accessibility as a whole.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- Why web accessibility is important, including legislation and web accessibility guidelines.
- How to install accessiBe on your website.
- Perform a website audit using aCe to identify your site’s accessibility issues.
- accessiBe’s accessibility interface that mostly deals with your website’s design and user interface.
- accessiBe’s AI-based background application for screen reader and keyboard navigation optimization.
- accessiBe’s pricing plans.
- How accessibility plugins, manual solutions, and competitor platforms fare against accessiBe.
Why is web accessibility important and the compliance guidelines
Before going into accessiBe’s features, let’s learn first the different types of compliance guidelines to understand how accessiBe helps you adhere to them and avoid accessibility-related lawsuits.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA is a civil rights law containing prohibitions on discriminating against people with disabilities in all areas of public life.
This includes transportation, schools, jobs, and all private and public places considered “public accommodation.”
The ADA’s series of prohibitions is divided into five sections or titles relating to the different areas of public life.
Title III deals with public accommodations and defines it as businesses and private entities that provide public services and goods or are open to the public.
Although the DOJ has affirmed that websites are considered places of public accommodation, a defined set of rules for how to achieve ADA compliance online haven’t been officially released.
Instead, most courts have been relying on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA, the most widely adopted and recognized standards for web accessibility, to determine whether a website is accessible.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1
The WCAG 2.1 (the latest version of the success criteria standard) offers a broad spectrum of technical recommendations to make your web content accessible to many people with various disabilities.
To be WCAG 2.1 compliant, you’ll need to follow the technical standards to provide accessibility to the blind and individuals with visual impairments, hearing loss and deafness, speech and cognitive disabilities, limited movement, photosensitivity, and more.
Adopting the guidelines will help improve your web content’s accessibility to ensure equal access for disabled users and make it more accessible to general users.
In a nutshell, the WCAG 2.1 is currently the most important set of accessibility guidelines for ADA compliance and for avoiding potential accessibility-related lawsuits.
accessiBe helps make your website compliant with the ADA and WCAG 2.1, including other worldwide legislations and accessibility guidelines.
Choose from accessiBe’s several installation options.
Quick and basic installation
Copy the installation script provided by accessiBe and paste it before the end of your website’s body.
You can also view the uncompressed version of the code and send the installation instructions to your email address by clicking on the send instructions button.
Advanced and customized installation
The advanced installation method lets you customize the accessibility interface and set the icons, language, sizes, positions, colors, and more to reflect your branding.
You’ll get a custom script from accessiBe when you’re done personalizing the interface.
accessiBe also provides installation guides for website owners using WordPress, Shopify, Wix, GTM, and Volusion.
accessiBe can operate on any website, even on those without a system, and offers a guide for custom systems installation.
Once installed to your website’s system, accessiBe’s accessibility interface instantly appears on your site.
The platform’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology then scans and analyzes your website every 24 hours for new content to adjust for accessibility, and within 48 hours, your site becomes fully compliant with the ADA and WCAG 2.1 Level AA.
accessiBe features for web accessibility
Let’s break down the functionalities and features of accessiBe to make your SMB website accessible to the widest possible audience, regardless of the user’s ability and circumstance.
aCe Web accessibility audit tool
Making your website accessible starts with understanding the elements, content, design, and more that hinder persons with disabilities from using your site effectively.
accessiBe helps you assess your website for accessibility issues with an audit tool called aCe. It allows you to evaluate your site’s WCAG 2.1 compliance level.
Enter your domain, and the tool will analyze your website. It will then score your site according to the accessibility level of your clickable elements, titles, menus, graphics, and more.
Along with a clear answer to whether you’re compliant, aCe provides comprehensive recommendations to help you fix your site’s accessibility issues and achieve WCAG 2.1 and ADA compliance.
aCe identifies your accessibility issues, shows you the WCAG 2.1 requirement to address the errors, and provides specific suggestions to help you adjust your website’s elements for compliance.
The tool gives you a quick, free, and accurate report to assess your website’s compliance level, including the specific steps to help you address your accessibility gaps and adhere to legislation.
accessiBe has two different components that work simultaneously to make your website ADA and WCAG 2.1 Level AA and AAA compliant: the foreground and background applications.
accessiBe’s foreground application deals mostly with the user interface.
It allows people with cognitive disabilities, visual impairments, and more to adjust your website’s design, readability, and other UI elements to meet their specific needs.
Here’s an in-depth look at accessiBe’s accessibility interface features.
accessiBe’s latest interface feature lets your website users choose pre-built accessibility profiles.
With one click, users can enable epilepsy-safe, visually impaired, ADHD friendly, and other disability profiles that give them bulk adjustments for easy website navigation and use.
Each profile turns on a combination of various accessibility options that cover six disabilities categories with one click.
- Blind users profile for screen reader users. Enabling this profile adjusts your website to make it compatible with screen reader software such as VoiceOver and JAWS.
- Keyboard navigation profile for the motor-impaired. People with motor impairments can turn on this profile to navigate your website using the keyboard Tab, Shift+Tab, enter key, and other shortcut keys.
- Cognitive disability profile. Users with cognitive disabilities, including dyslexia, autism, and more, can enable this profile to help them focus on your website’s key elements easily.
The example below shows how the website’s homepage looks like before users turn on the cognitive disability profile.
And here’s how the site will look when users enable the cognitive disability profile.
Turning on the profile emphasizes all the crucial website elements such as the menu, including other clickable components, and turns the cursor into a thick blue line.
This helps users with cognitive disabilities understand phrases, connections, and wordings on your web pages, allowing them to effectively browse your site.
- Visually-impaired profile. Turning on this profile adjusts your website to make it accessible for people with visual impairments such as tunnel vision, glaucoma, degrading eyesight, and others.
- ADHD friendly profile. This profile automatically reduces noise and distractions on your website so users with neurodevelopmental disorders and ADHD can effectively read, browse, and focus on crucial site elements.
Here’s how your website appears to users when they enable the profile.
Turning on the ADHD safe profile enables the reading mask that highlights the areas on your web page where users move their cursor.
This helps reduce or disable distracting website elements, allowing your visitors to browse your site effectively.
- Epilepsy safe profile. The profile lets people with epilepsy use your website safely by removing or turning off site elements that can trigger seizures, such as blinking or flashing animations.
Your website users can also enable additional accessibility features on top of their chosen profiles using other adjustment tools in the interface.
accessiBe’s content adjustment feature lets users adjust your website’s display, general appearance, and content.
People with visual impairments such as blurred vision can scale your site’s content, change your text to a readable font, highlight titles and links, magnify text, adjust font sizing, line height, letter spacing, and more.
For instance, people who struggle with seeing small text and images can adjust the font sizing, spacing, etc. to read and comprehend your content more easily.
These adjustments improve your site’s readability according to the individual users’ content display preferences and cater to their specific disabilities.
The color schemes on your website can make it difficult for people with color blindness and photosensitivity to read your content and see crucial site elements such as buttons, menus, links, and others.
Users with these disabilities can choose color contrast profiles when viewing your website, including dark, light, monochrome, and inverted in the color adjustments feature.
The feature also allows users to swap the color schemes of backgrounds, texts, titles with seven different color options.
The color adjustments feature lets people with different degrees of color blindness make their preferred color adjustments to make your website links and buttons visible.
This helps improve the user experience, and your conversion and sales opportunities. It also allows users to browse through your website with white backgrounds easily.
The accessibility interface makes your website easily navigable and accessible by providing website users with guiding elements and lets them use navigation shortcuts (among others).
People with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can find it challenging to browse through your website effectively if there are too many distracting elements, such as sounds, animations, and others.
An option that lets users reduce noise and other website components helps people with ADHD and other neurological disorders focus when navigating your website, allowing them to use your site effectively.
Other orientation adjustments users can do include enabling a virtual keyboard, highlighting focus and hover, choosing a big white and black cursor, jumping to specific links for quick navigation, and others.
Users can also mute sounds to minimize distractions and turn off animations and flashing images to reduce potential seizure triggers for people with epilepsy and photosensitivity.
Other key accessibility interface features
The interface also includes other adjustment tools that can give your website users a more personalized accessibility experience.
- Built-in dictionary. People with cognitive disorders can find it challenging to comprehend particular language, slang, or phrases.
The built-in dictionary makes it easy for them to look up the meaning of words, without needing to open another window or switch to another website.
- Language options. Users can choose from twelve different interface languages.
- Reset settings. Website visitors can go back to the default accessibility interface settings with just one click if they want to start over with the adjustments.
accessiBe’s accessibility interface helps your website become ADA and WCAG 2.1 level AA compliant, providing the necessary adjustments for disabled people to use your site effectively.
AI-based background application
The second accessiBe component is the background application that uses AI technology to help optimize your website’s accessibility level constantly.
accessiBe’s AI analyzes your website using a contextual understanding process.
It learns and understands the purpose and function of all your site’s elements, including popups, menus, dropdowns, etc., and makes the necessary accessibility adjustments.
The AI addresses your website’s HTML issues and adapts your site’s behavior and functionality for screen readers that blind people use and keyboard navigation for users with motor impairments.
Here’s a closer look at how accessiBe’s background application works and how it can make your website accessible and ADA and WCAG 2.1 Level AA compliant.
Screen reader optimization
accessiBe’s background process learns all of your website’s components to provide screen reader software full context and accurate descriptions.
It uses the Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) technique and different behavioral changes to ensure blind users with screen readers can read, understand, and access your site’s functions.
accessiBe’s background app uses the ARIA set of attributes to provide actionable icons descriptions (i.e., search and social media icons), form labels, element roles, and more.
This gives screen readers meaningful and accurate descriptions.
For example, an Instagram icon on your website contains a simple link, and because screen readers can’t see the icon, it will only “read” it out as “link,” without explaining its purpose or function.
When accessiBe is enabled on your website, it automatically modifies the link tag for your Instagram icon and adds an ARIA label so screen readers now “read” it out as “link Instagram” instead of just link.
This gives proper context, descriptions, and accessibility for blind users using screen readers when they’re navigating your website, significantly improving the user experience.
accessiBe also uses the ARIA attributes to remediate your website forms.
It uses AI to “learn” the labels, validations, and purposes of each form field and utilizes the browser’s already accessible validations API with the ARIA attributes.
This allows screen readers to read and announce messages, form requirements, and errors accurately.
Another crucial function of accessiBe’s background app is its capabilities to provide screen readers with meaningful descriptions of your website images.
accessiBe’s AI uses IRIS and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technologies to scan all of your web images and give screen readers image-object-recognition-based descriptions in the form of alternate text (ALT) image tags.
The AI extract texts embedded within the image and automatically assigns the alt text tags upon “learning” your image.
In the image below, accessiBe’s AI would create an alt text tag that reads “Image text: 30% off for all US healthcare workers and first responders,” and a description of what’s in the image.
This gives screen reader users the full context of your website, including the object of promotional banners and text.
Users will immediately get a prompt upon landing on your website to enable the screen reader profile and feature for easy and effective navigation for blind users.
Users can also turn on the screen reader adjustments (compatible with popular screen reader software such as NVDA and JAWS) any time by pressing Alt+1 on the keyboard.
Keyboard navigation optimization
This allows your users to browse through your site using the Tab and Shift+Tab keys, go through dropdown menus and lists with the arrow keys, trigger links and buttons with the Enter key, close popups using the ESC key, and others.
When visitors navigate your site and enable accessiBe’s keyboard navigation, the menu, icon, content, and more are highlighted to indicate where the users are on the page.
Other keyboard navigation options include allowing keyboard users to move between checkbox and radio elements using the arrow keys and fill them in with the Enter or Spacebar keys.
Quick Navigation Menu
Keyboard users can enable content-skip and quick navigation menus by clicking Alt+1 keys.
accessiBe’s background process also deals with triggered popups. It moves the keyboard focus toward the popup when they appear and prevents the focus from drifting outside it.
Your website visitors can also use keyboard shortcuts, including tapping on “H” to skip to headings, “F” for forms, “M” for menus, and “G” to jump to graphics and other specific elements.
accessiBe’s background application works simultaneously with the foreground app on the fly without the need to manually code accessibility adjustments for compliance.
accessiBe offers four pricing plans based on the number of unique website pages and includes a seven-day free trial.
The lowest tier is the Standard Plan at $490/year or $49/month.
With all that accessiBe’s automated accessibility solution has to offer, the price is worth more than the costs of non-compliance, potential ADA lawsuits, and damages to your business’ reputation.
Free accessibility plugins vs. accessiBe
Accessibility plugins are mostly free or low-cost, and are easy to install.
However, they lack the full accessibility solution that accessiBe offers to helps you comply with legislation and accessibility guidelines.
This means that relying on accessibility plugins will make your website non-compliant with the ADA and WCAG 2.1 standards, and your business can also face accessibility-related lawsuits.
While around 30% of the WCAG 2.1 requirements relate to your website’s UI and design, about 70% of the standards refer to screen reader adjustments for blind users and keyboard navigation optimization for the motor impaired, which are handled by backend processes.
Plugins can only give you an accessibility interface, at most, that allows users to choose (sometimes limited) accessibility options to modify your site’s UI and design to suit their needs.
This means that with accessibility plugins, your business website will only be 30% compliant with the requirements.
Although some plugins provide minor keyboard navigation adjustments, the accessibility requirements are far too complex for most plugins to cover completely.
This is why accessiBe’s automated solution is crucial to help you achieve full compliance.
The platform is a full solution that rectifies your website’s accessibility issues through its accessibility interface and AI-based background processes, which allows you to comply with the ADA and WCAG 2.1 requirements fully .
The best part is accessiBe does the work for you, all you have to do is implement one line of code.
Once installed accessiBe scans and analyzes your website for any accessibility issues, automatically adjusts new content, design, elements, and more to ensure your site is fully accessible at all times.
In a nutshell, most accessibility plugins only focus on providing you with front web cosmetic changes and lack the robust backend process responsible for addressing the bulk of the ADA and WCAG 2.1 accessibility requirements.
Manual accessibility solutions vs. accessiBe
Using non-automated accessibility solutions means going over the long list of WCAG 2.1 requirements and manually making every single adjustment and adapting the software to your website to be compliant.
The entire process is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and expensive. Also, while making your website accessible, you’d still be open to accessibility-related complaints that could lead your business to face potential ADA lawsuits.
Using manual solutions can also require hiring developers and WCAG 2.1 experts to ensure your website is fully accessible and compliant, which is expensive.
There’s also the issue of the sustainability and scalability of manual solutions.
Updating your website or adding new blog posts, graphics, content, and others can mess up your design and disrupt the code that’s making your site accessible.
This means you’ll have to go in every time and manually code the changes to adapt them for accessibility, which again, can drain a lot of your time and resources.
Additionally, as your business grows, so will the functionalities and features of your website. Sticking to a manual accessibility solution will only take more time, effort, and money.
accessiBe’s fully automated solution regularly scans your website to identify updates, applies adjustments, and rectifies accessibility issues.
It also uses AI-based backend processes and image recognition technology to assign text attributes for screen reader software automatically.
accessiBe cross-references your website’s behaviors and features across its database to determine commonalities.
Plus, once installed, it only takes about 48 hours for accessiBe to make your website fully accessible and compliant with legislation and web accessibility guidelines.
That being said, using manual accessibility solutions isn’t a strategically and financially sound option for small and large enterprises alike in terms of sustainability, scalability, and full compliance to the ADA and the WCAG 2.1.
With the state of the current accessibility solution market and thousands of websites that are still non-compliant to the ADA, the best way to truly provide equal access to all users is through the scalable, automated, and AI-based software that accessiBe offers.
Competitors vs. accessiBe
Here’s a closer look at accessiBe’s fully automated accessibility solution compared to competitor accessibility plugins, services, and platforms through the following features and accessibility components.
Working with most accessibility platforms will likely require you to provide full access to your source-code and databases.
This allows the third-party accessibility service to dig through everything, which could take weeks and potentially disrupt your website’s system, break your original codes, and others.
It means that accessiBe does not get access to your source code or affect it in any way. If you uninstall accessiBe, it will leave no trace on your website’s system.
With manual accessibility solutions and plugins, you’ll need to apply specific font sizes, color ratios, and more that could limit and hinder your user’s experience on your website.
Accessibility services also usually require full redesigns, putting all the hard work and money you put into designing your website to waste.
With accessiBe, you can design your website in any way you think is best for your marketing efforts, branding, and user experience.
accessiBe’s accessibility interface helps you accommodate persons with disabilities and allows users to adjust your website’s design to match preferences and needs perfectly.
The WCAG comprises hundreds of specific design guidelines, code standards, best practices, and other technical requirements for web content accessibility.
Due to the complexity of the WCAG’s 1,000-page guidebook, it would take around three to twenty-six weeks (depending on the website) to complete one accessibility project using manual solutions.
accessiBe, on the other hand, takes around 48 hours to remediate your website’s accessibility issues upon installation fully.
The entire process is fully automated. Once accessiBe’s AI is done scanning and analyzing your website, you’ll receive an email with the “Accessibility Statement and Certificate,” explaining how your site achieves ADA and WCAG 2.1 compliance.
Each time you update your website, an accessibility issue can surface that you need to fix manually.
Every new content you add to your site, no matter how small, such as a single blog post, you’ll need to audit and adjust to make it accessible, which is extremely time-consuming and laborious.
This can also rack up your web developers’ and WCAG experts’ retainer fees, not to mention slowing down your marketing efforts since you’ll focus more on fixing your accessibility issue first.
accessiBe’s biggest advantage is it scans and analyzes each of your web pages at least once every 24 hours.
This allows the solution to identify potential accessibility holes from new website updates and revised or added content and remediate them for compliance quickly.
To achieve full compliance through manual accessibility solutions, you would need to work with WCAG experts and web developers.
As mentioned earlier, manually making a website fully accessible takes weeks, which means the WCAG experts and web developers need to put in many hours of work.
This puts your compliance costs at thousands of dollars, and you still need to factor in maintenance expenses.
accessiBe’s lowest pricing plan is at $490 per year, or $49 per month, for websites with 1,000 pages and under, and other tiers for sites with millions of pages.
As per accessiBe, all their plans are 10% less than the average industry price.
The cost of using accessiBe to achieve ADA and WCAG 2.1 compliance is far less than using manual accessibility solutions.
Most accessibility plugins also only help you comply with about 20% of the requirements, which could leave you open to liabilities and expensive lawsuits.
The benefits of using accessiBe’s fully automated accessibility solution far outweigh the costs.
With accessiBe, you’ll achieve full ADA and WCAG 2.1 compliance quickly, provide accessibility for disabled users and improve their experience on your website, and avoid lawsuits that can cost you thousands of dollars and harm your business’ reputation.
It also widens your audience, which increases your conversions and sales opportunities.
The best part is, that accessiBe does the bulk of the work for you with its accessibility interface and AI-powered background app that works together to make your website fully accessible.
With a single line of code, you’ll solve your site’s accessibility issues.