Manual Coding Vs. Overlay: How To Choose The Right Accessibility Option For Your Business’ Website

Manual Coding Vs. Overlay: How To Choose The Right Accessibility Option For Your Business’ Website

Daniel Hall 14/02/2022 2
Manual Coding Vs. Overlay: How To Choose The Right Accessibility Option For Your Business’ Website

When designing your business website to be accessible, you are ensuring that all of your users, including those with disabilities, have a seamless user experience when interacting with your site and its content.

This provides a wide number of benefits to the website owner, such as increased revenue, improved SEO, and the building of positive public relations. In addition, making provisions for disabled users by adhering to the guidelines set out in the WCAG 2.1 ensures that you will avoid discrimination while greatly reducing the likelihood of lawsuits and legal complications. 


For these reasons, web accessibility has come to the top of many business owners’ agendas, especially as the number of digital accessibility lawsuits continues to rise year-on-year. On that note, If you want to make accommodations for your disabled users by enhancing the level of accessibility you provide, you have two options: do the coding manually or purchase a web accessibility overlay solution to do it for you. Each of these solutions has advantages and disadvantages, and your company's circumstances largely determine the one you choose. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

Manual Coding 

When coding your website manually, you can either do it yourself (as long as you have sufficient knowledge in coding) or hire a professional to do it for you. Of course, the latter tends to be the more expensive option out of the two. Whichever method you decide to pursue, your first port of call will be to perform a site-wide audit to check for current accessibility problems on your website.

In general, you should be checking small samples of your website against the international WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility standard to see if your content and functionality are compliant. Unfortunately, websites that are content-heavy or have troves of complex code will have a much more difficult task conducting an audit. Furthermore, even the most basic of websites should expect to pay at least $1,000 for the services of a web accessibility expert, with more sophisticated sites being charged well over $15,000. 

Once the audit is complete, it’s time to get to work fixing any accessibility issues. By the time you have finished coding and have addressed all the accessibility issues, your website should be fully optimized to be used with screen readers and keyboard navigation. Remember to make sure all future content and features that you publish on your website are fully accessible and meet the standards. 

Web Accessibility Overlays 

If all of the above sounds too costly or like too much of a headache, you may find that web accessibility overlays to be a more appealing option. To put it simply, web accessibility overlays are a set of automated software solutions that can detect and fix web accessibility issues. All you have to do is insert a few lines of code into your site, and the overlay will do all the hard work for you.

Over the past few years, these overlays have improved dramatically to the point where they now utilize sophisticated AI and machine learning technology to help companies reach compliance. After pasting the (typically JavaScript) code into your website, you will gain access to a toolbar, plugin, app, or widget that allows you to make adjustments. In just a few moments, the overlay will begin scanning and assessing your website for accessibility issues. 

When these issues are detected, the software will automatically fix them and make the necessary adjustments. These include making alterations to the UI and design of the website and the more complex, back-end adjustments required for screen reader and keyboard navigation optimization. In addition to this, overlays continually scan your website each day, which means that any new content you upload to your site will be automatically optimized. 

As you might expect, web accessibility overlays are becoming an increasingly popular option for SMB website owners, as they significantly reduce the time and costs associated with improving web accessibility and reaching compliance with the various guidelines. 

Which One is Best for You?

While accessibility overlays can seem appealing, they may not be a viable solution for extremely large websites with substantial users. Even though the software may handle their content and make it accessible, these major organizations are significantly more likely to face lawsuits, which means they may want a more robust and specialized solution than overlays can provide.

On the other hand, for SMBS with limited resources, an overlay may be the best choice. With accessibility overlays starting as low as $49 per month, it’s difficult to argue against the tremendous amount of value they bring to business owners, especially when it comes to the peace of mind that comes with knowing their company is safeguarded against litigation.

Furthermore, most small to medium-sized firms lack the resources to retain a full-time web developer, which means they will have to hire someone to manually remediate all of their existing code. This becomes even more of a problem when adding new content to your website, as you must guarantee that all new features and information on your website are compliant. An accessibility overlay is a simple solution to these concerns. 

Final Word

With web accessibility lawsuits on the rise, website owners must demonstrate that they are improving the accessibility, usability, and functionality of their services for all users. Hiring a professional may be the best option for organizations that can afford the initial outlay, although this is a luxury that the majority of businesses cannot afford.

Fortunately, web accessibility overlays offer a straightforward, low-cost method for bringing your website (and all of its content) up to compliance. Moreover, the 24/7 automatic coverage that the overlays provide is hard to pass up, as it means that any fresh content that gets published is automatically optimized and corrected without the website owner having to lift a finger.

Share this article

Leave your comments

Post comment as a guest

terms and condition.
  • Tyrone Mitchell

    These overlays are little more than snake oil, and they don't reduce the possibility of a lawsuit. The smart move is to just put some effort into designing and coding the website properly to make it accessible.

  • Mike Duigou

    Overlays are to accessibility as Taco Bell at 2am is to food; it is hard to be sure that it is even a substitute for the real thing. Overlays are poor value at any price because the provide minimal accessibility and far too frequently negatively impact actual accessibility. Recently while trying to use a site without utilizing the overlay it nonetheless continuously asked me to turn it on which prevented me from actually using the site.

    Would you really trust Google translate to provide the translation of your website in to other languages? Everyone knows the automated translation results are sometimes useful but frequently hilariously bad. Trusting an overlay to provide accessibility for your website is expecting an unreasonable outcome while applying similar technology to automated translation, the result is far more likely embarrassing and entirely unacceptable than useful.

    Accessibility is already a part of web best practices. If your web site development vendors aren't including accessibility in their services plan then find a better vendor. You shouldn't need to hire specialist accessibility consultants if accessibility is included in the design from the start. A web shop that doesn't do accessibility is as useless as a shop that isn't able to do mobile as well as desktop.

Share this article

Daniel Hall

Business Expert

Daniel Hall is an experienced digital marketer, author and world traveller. He spends a lot of his free time flipping through books and learning about a plethora of topics.

Cookies user prefences
We use cookies to ensure you to get the best experience on our website. If you decline the use of cookies, this website may not function as expected.
Accept all
Decline all
Read more
Tools used to analyze the data to measure the effectiveness of a website and to understand how it works.
Google Analytics