Accessibility Widgets

Are Accessibility Widgets a Magic Wand?


At the bottom right-hand corner of this page, you’ll see an ADA icon for the Accessibility Widget used on this site. Widgets like accessiBe and the one found on this page can provide some level of assistance with accessibility for certain websites, but their effectiveness and impact can vary depending on the specific needs of the website and its users. It’s essential to understand the limitations and potential benefits of such widgets.

Both widgets are AI-driven web accessibility solutions that aim to make websites compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) by automating certain accessibility features. Some of the common features provided by both widgets and others include:

  • Automated Alt Text Generation - The widgets use AI to analyze images and automatically generate alternative text (alt text) for images, making them more accessible to users with visual impairments.

  • Text-to-Speech and Speech-to-Text - Both widgets offer text-to-speech functionality, allowing users to have website content read out loud. They also provide speech-to-text, enabling users to communicate with the website using voice commands. With accessiBe, the user can select a language, and the menu is presented in that language. The widget used on this site will revert the entire site’s text to the language selected in the widget. That allows it to read the site to the user in the language they select.

  • Keyboard Navigation - The widgets enhance keyboard accessibility by allowing users to navigate the website using only the keyboard, catering to those who cannot use a mouse.

  • Color and Font Adjustments - Users can modify the website’s color contrast, font size, and spacing to accommodate their individual preferences and improve readability.

The Pros of Accessibility Widgets

  • Quick Implementation - Installing a widget is relatively easy and can provide immediate accessibility improvements without requiring extensive website code changes.

  • Automated Solutions - These widgets use AI algorithms to automatically address some common accessibility issues, saving time and effort.

  • Cost-Effective - In comparison to hiring developers for manual accessibility updates, widgets can be a more cost-effective option for smaller websites with limited budgets.

  • Accessibility for Basic Needs - Widgets can enhance accessibility for users with mild to moderate disabilities, improving their overall experience on the website.

The Cons of accessiBe and Similar Widgets

  • Limited Scope - While widgets can address certain aspects of accessibility, they may not cover all WCAG requirements comprehensively. If the site has accessibility problems before the installation of the widget, manual interventions might still be necessary for complete compliance.

  • Accuracy Issues - Automated alt text generation may not consistently provide accurate and descriptive alternative text, potentially leading to confusion for users with visual impairments. Make sure your alt text is correct prior to installing an accessibility widget. This is the better way to ensure compliance.

  • Complexity of Disabilities - Websites need to consider a wide range of disabilities, and automated solutions may not cater to the specific needs of all users.

  • Legal Compliance - Relying solely on a widget may not be sufficient to meet legal requirements for accessibility in some jurisdictions, where full WCAG compliance is mandated.

There is also a school of thought that these tools (that are sometimes called overlays) are directionally wrong, and that efforts should be instead focused on resolving the shortcomings of the underlying code. See Overlay Fact Sheet for a summary of this argument.

Getting a Widget for Your Site

If you’d like to get a widget like this for your website, you may purchase one from a Zen Cart Certified hosting partner.


These widgets are not a “Magic Wand”. They can be a helpful step toward making a website more accessible, especially for smaller businesses with limited resources. However, it’s important to recognize that such tools have limitations and may not fully address the diverse needs of users with disabilities. To achieve true and comprehensive accessibility, you should consider combining automated solutions with manual accessibility audits and updates. Collaborating with accessibility experts and implementing a more holistic approach will result in a website that is genuinely inclusive and welcoming to all users, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.

Still have questions? Use the Search box in the upper right, or try the full list of FAQs. If you can't find it there, head over to the Zen Cart support forum and ask there in the appropriate subforum. In your post, please include your Zen Cart and PHP versions, and a link to your site.

Is there an error or omission on this page? Please post to General Questions on the support forum. Or, if you'd like to open a pull request, just review the guidelines and get started. You can even PR right here.
Last modified March 3, 2024 by Scott Wilson (ba340a5).