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Why Paid Commercial Web Accessibility Plugins Are Better Than Free Plugins

Free plugins, don’t make your website 100% accessible and compliant.

Free plugins, don’t make your website 100% accessible and compliant.
Photo by Yomex Owo on Unsplash

Building a website these days is one thing, building an accessible and usable website is another thing entirely as it requires some expertise and use of accessibility tools.

These days, you can easily build a website and host it in a blink of an eye with just a few clicks. However, competition is starting to build up and you would need to have an edge over others. One of the ways to do this is by making your website easily accessible and usable.

There are tons of tips you can employ to make your website accessible. H However, you may not have the luxury of time to go through these tips and apply them. That is where these plugins come in as they help you identify where there would be an issue with accessibility on your website and provide tips to fix them. Some help you identify and as well, fix the problems.

Web Accessibility plugins usually come in free and paid (or premium) forms and some are either powered by open-source or commercial tools. The choice of choosing a free or paid plugin varies from different reasons and aspects and choosing the right web accessibility plugin is very important. Also, plugins of choice should solve a specific problem or provide essential features that make your website accessible.

There are many aspects in making websites accessible and most of these plugins are able to make your website accessible and as well as WCAG and ADA compliant.

These plugins really go a long way as they help you make the process of making your website usable, accessible, and compliant.

Like we have mentioned earlier, there are free plugins and paid plugins you can use. Free plugins as its name implies come with no cost and you can use them as you want, while paid plugins come with a price that could either be a one time fee or subscription base.

Some of these free plugins are written by a person or a group of people making it open source and free to use. Most users would usually go for free plugins as it is free and provide free solutions to make their website accessible.

In most cases, these free plugins usually get the job done and most people are comfortable with it and do not know the consequence of trusting free plugins with Web Accessibility compliance. They only provide 20% of the requirements to make your website accessible like highlighting links, changing colors, text size, and so on.

Using free plugins is all good as it saves you money, however, you cannot compare the benefits you get when using paid commercial plugins. In the remaining part of the article, we’ll be exploring why paid commercial web accessibility plugins are better than free plugins.

This is one of the most important guidelines to pay attention to when making your website accessible. By default, anything on the website should be something that could be conveniently carried out using only a keyboard. Most users with mobility disabilities, including repetitive stress injuries, may not be able to use a mouse or trackpad and many assistive technologies rely on keyboard-only navigation.

While most free plugins like UserWay claim to provide such features and make your website keyboard accessible, they don’t do it properly as expected. If you look at most websites using these plugins you’ll see that you can’t navigate in dropdowns, popups, and in some, the focus won’t be visible.

However, some commercial paid plugins use AI to analyze your website and fix keyboard navigation issues.

When building an accessible website, these are one of the most important guidelines to follow as it provides tips to make your website accessible to people with disabilities and helps you prevent accessibility lawsuits thereby saving you money.

The WCAG guidelines explain how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Web content generally refers to the information in a web page or web application including natural information (such as text, images, and sound), code, or markup that defines the structure, presentation, etc.

ADA compliance refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design, which states that all electronic and information technology (like websites) must be accessible to people with disabilities.

Making your website compliant to both WCAG and ADA makes your website accessible to everyone and you barely see a free plugin claiming to make your website fully compliant to these guidelines and laws.

Plugins like UserWay don’t make your website compliance at all and most free plugins don’t claim that as well. If you end up going for a free plugin that barely makes your website compliant, you are liable to get a lawsuit filed against you.

If you are a company, a lawsuit, could be filed against your company if people with disabilities cannot access or use your site. Even if your business didn’t intend to discriminate or exclude people with disabilities from visiting or using your website, you could pay thousands of dollars in lawsuits just because you rely on a free plugin to make your website accessible.

With, Accessibe or other premium plugins, your website will be analyzed and within 24 hours, they make your website accessible and compliant.

When building an accessible website, ensure screen readers are able to understand and read through your content with no hiccups as most users with vision disabilities tend to use screen reader software and device to navigate your website.

Screen reader optimization is actually one of the key guidelines to take note of if you want to support vision-impaired users since they will be using a screen reader to navigate your website.

WCAG requires websites to be optimized to assistive technologies that people with disabilities already use. People with visual disabilities will already be using Screen readers like Jaws and NVDA that are installed on their system.

Most free plugins like UserWay don’t optimize your website to be readable by screen readers. UserWay claims to have a built-in Screen Reader to their plugin. However, no one is using it or would use it because most of these users already have assistive software they use and they barely use UserWay’s reader (that is if they know it existed).

Most paid plugins, not only has a screen reader built on AI but also optimizes your website to be accessible and readable by any screen readers like Jaws or NVDA.

If your website requires users to fill forms and enter details into forms, then you should consider taking this seriously. Forms are crucial components of the web as they help collect user information.

Most people with disabilities, especially those with vision disabilities, have difficulty using forms. Moving through form fields and providing valid data can be quite difficult if the form is not accessible.

People with disabilities won’t be able to use the forms if forms don’t respect keyboard navigation. Their assistive tools like screen readers can’t access and read out the forms, and so on.

Most free plugins do not mention anything about making forms accessible and they usually ignore it which can be very dangerous since a lawsuit can be filed against you by disabled users who can’t use your forms. Screen readers should be able to capture if forms are valid or invalid when used by vision-impaired users.

UserWay particularly didn’t mention anything concerning form accessibility However, Accessibe not only mentioned but makes your form accessible by making your forms keyboard accessible, validating, and showing invalid data.

The aria-* attributes are HTML attributes provided by WAI-ARIA that help to make web content more accessible for everyone including people with disabilities.

Most of the time, you really don’t have a need for this, your basic HTML is enough to be accessible and you’ll only use it when working with dynamic content in complex user interfaces.

Most free plugins, development tools already have this in place and most people don’t know that it only addresses a small percentage of it and it needs an intervention from the developer to make it grow by a little margin.

If your website has a lot of interactions, dynamic content, and custom complex user interface, you should take this seriously as it determines if users are able to interact with your website.

Most screen readers have issues interacting with Dynamic content and only use the aria attributes to understand the interaction. If its absence, not correctly labeled or using it wrongly, the screen reader will be confused which will end up giving the user a hard time using your website or unable to use your website.

Commercial web accessibility plugins usually take their time to understand your website interaction and use AI and algorithms to apply where needed the ARIA attributes for screen readers readability.

No free plugin have support or provide solutions to those with cognitive disabilities. This can be a time ticking bomb if not taken seriously in the future.

Web accessibility simply means making the web or websites accessible to anyone regardless of their conditions or disabilities. Basically, anyone including people who has cognitive issues, elderly people, people with brain injury, and couldn’t understand the wordings, phrase on the web.

UserWay does not provide a solution for anything of such since the solution to this is to provide an interface where each phrase, wordings, slang can be looked up and get their meanings with just a click.

Accessibe plugins already have a built-in interface just for that. With just a click, you can get meaning of words, phrases, and so on.

Like I said earlier, using free plugins can seem nice initially since they are free and as well, increase your website accessibility by a small margin. However, web accessibility doesn’t just stop at improving the web design, changing colors, highlighting links, or changing text size, it’s the whole thing.

Most of the lawsuits are coming from the blind user and the motor impaired — the exact users that the free plugins do not cater to their needs — Keyboard Navigation and Screen Reader Optimization.

All free plugins don’t actually claim to make websites compliant. They only mention making your website compliant to just WCAG 2.1 and not AA (required). These plugins do not provide any service such as assistance in case of legal action being taken against a business owner.

Most times when using free plugins, you would need to jump into the site’s source code and start making changes manually which requires another skill or service entirely. This is something you don’t want as a business owner.

Some free plugin companies may do this intentionally and make your website, not 100% accessible and compliant. So they can help you audit and fix your website manually and charge you a crazy amount for the service. This means that these companies are aware that their free solution is not enough, and does not make your site accessible, or legally compliant just to later charge you a crazy fee.

We have explored why free plugins are bad for you if you are really trying to make your website compliant and why you should try as much as possible to go for paid commercial plugins that make your website 100% compliant and accessible.

Free plugins don’t make your site 100% accessible and compliant therefore they put you at real risk of legal action and preventing people with disabilities from using your website.

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