Accessibility Overlays kills Accessibility

Accessibility overlays don't make your website accessible, they make your website less accessible. To be clear: Any tool that promises to make your website accessible at the push of a button or with a few lines of code is accessibility bullshit. Such tools are helpful, as are the laying on of hands, divination balls, and homeopathy. I'd rather you don't do anything for accessibility than use tools like this. On the other hand, if you want to waste money, I'll be happy to send you my bank details.

The problem with the tools is that at first they don't work as intended. Often you only add a few zoom factors, a read-aloud function or a dark mode. These are functions that were tried out 15 years ago, have since been out and can be handled better by the operating system or assistive technologies. Complex dynamic elements cannot be automatically made accessible in the foreseeable future. To be honest, we still fail today when it comes to useful automated image descriptions, do you think the significantly more complex dynamic elements could be made accessible automatically? Functions like Hiding animations won't work, that would require the animations to be set to stop under certain conditions. However, this contradicts the requirement to be automatically accessible.

But the problem goes further: the overlays add superfluous elements to the website. They make the website more confusing and can even actively prevent use. These are the famous screen reader traps. They capture the focus of the screen reader in an overlay element and in the worst case you can't get out of the element. Nobody will voluntarily visit this website a second time.

Now there is no point in taking action against the providers of such tools, they are worth millions and also like to sue their critics, i.e. really likeable contemporaries.

I wouldn't be surprised if these companies spend more money on lawyers than developing their tool.

It is better to target those who use such tools on their website. So far, there are very few of them in Germany, probably also because marketing hasn't been very present so far.

If you come across such an overlay, inform the provider of the website that overlays are harmful and preferably what problems you personally have when using the website in question. For example, refer to the Overlay Factsheet website. If the provider is legally obliged to ensure accessibility - for example by the BITV or the Accessibility Strengthening Act -, point out that the use of the overlay does not protect him from lawsuits.

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