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In a perfect world, achieving accessibility compliance would be as easy as flipping a switch.
With the wave of a magic wand, every developer, every content writer, every designer, every business group owner, every site architect, and every marketing manager in the world would be imbued with a deep and nuanced understanding of WCAG compliance standards and the various governmental provisions that have arisen from them.
With that same magic, decades-old coding languages, platforms, and frameworks would also be inherently compliant, and HTML and CSS would suddenly adapt to the needs of all disabilities.
In a flash, all sites would suddenly be compliant.
The inherent complexities in site design & development, maintenance, and compliance regulations themselves make this an incredibly large ask. The armies of people involved in owning and running a site and the very nature of a website as a non-static entity mean that compliance cannot be achieved without some degree of effort.
Here is where AI technology can serve as a “magic bullet.” A solution that ensures your sites are remediated to such an advanced degree would take a small dedicated team of people even to begin providing similar results.
While the idea of reliance on an AI-based widget solution might make some readers wary, your doubts are not unfounded. Some accessibility purists believe that compliance can only come through code-level remediations and transformative solutions that impact every business group within an organization.
Also, there are those who were exposed to widgets of dubious quality or even well-intended widgets when AI accessibility was in its infancy, just a few short years ago.
To the nay-sayers I say, the day has come. AI has evolved to the point where a bulk of the heavy lifting in terms of reaching compliance standards can be handled automatically.
Widgets have evolved from simply providing user-triggered remediations that may make a site a bit more in line with specific user needs to a strong tool that is powered by ever-evolving AI at its core. This AI and the toolsets available to industry-leading widgets and overlays now mean that effective remediations can be automated and customizable.
Auto-generated alt text through image recognition software, color contrast correctors that can be adjusted to hit AA or AAA standards, ARIA label editors that allow for granular control over how disabled users interact with and experience a site, content moderators for complete control over content added to sites, tricky form labels and drop-down menus made accessible, and so many more features can be implemented into a site with an integration process about as complex as ordering a pizza online (and just as customizable).
These powerful, immediate, and customizable remediations cover a vast swath of violations, allowing your internal teams to tackle issues at the root level in a more targeted and systematic way, all on an accelerated timeline.
Additionally, not all organizations and site owners have the luxury of hiring advanced internal teams, making an AI-powered automated remediation widget a blessing that can allow for SMB sites to be both accessible and protected against weaponized litigation.
Take a Hybrid Approach
While automation serves as a “belt and suspenders” solution, we suggest that each company should work toward an approach that leverages both automation and human intervention.
Some companies will find that they need more human input, such as user testing than others. And some will be surprised by how automation can make their website accessible so quickly.
Automation is indeed kind of a magical solution since it simplifies many otherwise complex processes, not to mention the substantial financial savings it affords. By using AI to resolve so many details, companies have more room in their budgets to employ qualified testers and consultants for human-centric concerns.
At the end of the day, an AI & Human hybrid approach is the best path for a more inclusive internet.
With the looming update of WCAG 2.2 and the not too distant shift to eventual WCAG 3.0 silver standards, having access to these tools is more critical than ever.