Beware Of Accessibility Widgets, They Are Not Accessible

As many of you know, this year REW decided to take on the challenge of accessibility and hired one of the foremost experts on the subject Kris Rivenburgh, who is the Chief Legal Officer and Chief Accessibility Officer of Essential Accessibility, the Founder of Accessible, org an attorney, and the author of The ADA Book.

We hired him to provide an audit of our framework so that in its next interaction (Vision) we could ensure that our clients were receiving a fully compliant WCGAG 2.1 experience. We also have taken these learnings forward and applied them to our newest Framework #Renaissance as well as providing accessibility training to all production and support departments at REW.

Why am I reminding you of this? Because Kris is THE MAN when it comes to accessibility and I’m about to share one of his articles that is really important.

The main point of the article that ALL Realtors need to take to heart is that “Widgets DO NOT make your website accessible” - read it again if you put a widget on your website in hopes that your website is now somehow “accessible” it is not, and in fact Kris points out you might have just put a target on your back.

In a nutshell here is why:

1: Widgets do not generally cover all aspects of accessibility (and how could they possibly?) this is especially true when it comes to complex applications like MLS / IDX search.

2: Widgets and toolbars ironically really just attempt to copy the “tools” those with disabilities already have. They don’t need you to provide a screen reader for them (they already have one and don’t want to learn yours) what they want is for your code and content to be accessible FOR your “their” tools. So even though the sales guy told you the widget made you accessible it’s basically just BS.

3: The widget itself is not equally accessible to all people with disabilities. This by itself invalidates the claim that it is in any way compliant.

The author makes a really good point about having a “target on your back” if you use a widget. He says that you’re making it easier for law firms to find you, and they will already know that if you went the widget route, then instead of actually becoming accessible, you tried to take the cheap and easy way out, and just pop some javascript on your site hoping you’d get left alone.

Ironically what this likely means is you just advertised that not only are you NOT accessible, but you know you’re not and you’re trying to hide it behind a toolbar.

Anyway, read the article, it makes the points much better than I could and it’s REALLY important!

And if you have a site that is custom or pre-Vision ADA, chances are you are not accessible. If you’d like a free basic audit, post below and we’re happy to take a look for you and give you some advice.