Why accessibility plugins are a SHAM.

August 3, 2023

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A brief overview of why relying on accessibility widgets is a bad idea.

One of the “big names” in digital accessibility that you have probably heard of is Accessibe. There has been ongoing back and forth between actual digital accessibility specialists, accessibility advocates, website designers, etc; about the efficacy of a plugin. Accessibe was one of the first to provide a plugin solution for small businesses – like you. We’ll get to them in a minute.

An overarching theme with accessibility widges, that that many of the sites’ marketing was/is such that it provides a very false sense of security. The prompt website designers and small businesses to believe that this plug and play solution will keep them safe from being sued for digital accessibility reasons. The unfortunately reality is that these types of programs only catch 30-50% of accessibility conformance issues. The rest requires a human eye to look at.

Not to mention, website that use any type of accessibility plugin as its SOLE tool to make their website more accessible are missing the mark. When looking at June 2023’s ADA Accessibility lawsuits (opens in new window) we can see that 17% of them were defendents in a previous ADA digital lawsuit. This means that they’ve already been sued for digital accessibility barriers. And a whopping 24% of June defendents were using a widget. The tracker doesn’t break down the company that provided that widget for the defendents; a more in depth look at each individual case would be required to get that data.

With that being said, on 24 July 2023, Accessibe’s plug and play option, the WordPress plugin (link opens in new window), is under review for cross site scripting and no longer available for download.

What happens to these websites that use the plugin? I don’t know. I don’t know if the processes and services it provided are still available, if it will be updated, or what. What I DO know, is that website accessibility is more than a plugin. It’s an entire user experience. And this, my friends, is why having your website managed by a professional designer that understand accessibility is so important to your business. It’s all about risk management and mitigation. I’m not saying that I don’t use various 3rd party accessibility applications to help me streamline my own testing processes; because I do. But they should be treated as they tool they are, and not a fool proof solution.

Is your business, your reputation, your website; worth the risk?


If you’re concerned about your website, sign up for our accessibility quick review. It will be $50 well spent.



Written By Shawna Barnes

Shawna is the graphic and website designer at S. Barnes Designs. She studied graphic design after her medical retirement from the Army in 2011 and has been designing websites since 2016. She lives in northwestern Wisconsin with her husband, two dogs, and a cat.

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