WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: Accessibility Tools for Website Visitors


From: Mark Magennis
Date: Oct 29, 2021 8:56AM

There is a view that if someone needs larger text, high contrast, etc. to view a website then either they will already have it (e.g. by using some assistive technology that provides it) or they will never reach your site or use the web in the first place because this will be the only site on the web that is accessible to them. That's overstating it of course but it makes a valid point. However, anyone who has spent time with people with disabilities using the web or been such a person may realise that in practice many people struggle due to things like text size and contrast and don't have the tools or knowledge to fix these issues so they often welcome this type of functionality. Particularly, say, someone who has recently acquired a disability and want to access the site of a relevant service organization. They may struggle to get there but be pleased if it offers built in tools to ease the struggle, if only in that one silo. So it makes a lot of sense for an organization serving people with vision impairments for instance to have tools on its site that helps people make text and other content more visible to them if they don't yet have or know how to use general assistive technologies.

So my view is that although providing bespoke tools on every website is not the right approach, in principle there is nothing wrong with providing extra tools on specific websites that may help their specific users configure the site easily to better suit their needs and preferences. As long as these tools are easy to ignore and as long as they don't make changes that interfere with the tools (assistive technologies) those users might already be using.

There are some drawbacks though. The main one being that when a site has these tools, its easy for the developers, managers, future developers, or future managers to think that's job done for accessibility. It isn't of course but you do see that a lot. Sites that have accessibility overlay tools or read-out-loud tools on them and think they're now fully accessible. The basic site should be maximally accessible and these tools should just be thought of as tools to increase the diversity of needs and preferences that the site can serve.


-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum < <EMAIL REMOVED> > On Behalf Of Swift, Daniel P.
Sent: 29 October 2021 14:49
Subject: [EXTERNAL] [WebAIM] Accessibility Tools for Website Visitors

Good morning, again!

Can anyone provide feedback on adding accessibility tools for website visitors? Specifically, I'm looking at what the website Mind Your Brain Foundation has done (https://www.mindyourbrainfoundation.org/). There is an icon on the right that allows users to change font size, contrast, etc.

I want to think that something like this would be beneficial, but I remember a few years back there was a negative connotation around sites providing "text only" versions of their site. I wasn't sure if something like this would elicit a similar response.

Thanks for the insight!

Daniel Swift, MBA
Senior Web Specialist
University Communications and Marketing
West Chester University