[Athen] UserWay

Sean Keegan skeegan at ccctechcenter.org
Tue Feb 11 12:31:06 PST 2020

Hi Carrie,

> Just curious is any of you have used UserWay (userway.org)?

I am familiar with UserWay (and a few other accessibility "overlays") and
am generally not a fan. If you were to offer this tool on top of a website
that is already accessible, then that's fine as it does provide some unique
options to modify the website content that a person with a disability might
find useful. That said, several of the "features" offered by the widget are
already present in most modern web browsers. Additionally, if a person
needs that accessibility support, it seems to me that he/she would likely
need that support on many of the web pages they use, not just on the site
that provides the overlay.

A problem that I see with such overlays is that you still have a website
with accessibility problems. Sure, the overlay may mitigate some issues,
but the problems still exist and need to be corrected. Putting on rose
colored glasses may make everything look rosy, but the accessibility
problems exist and can still pose barriers. For instance, what happens when
the college decides to stop paying for the remediation service portion? You
now have those same accessibility issues that have been kicked down the
road. I know the UserWay widget itself is free, but it is also combined
with the remediation service to address accessibility issues.

Also, I find that a lot of students, faculty, staff are using resources
that are not necessarily part of the college's public facing website. There
is a learning management system, library databases, Google Docs/Office 365
Online environments, publisher content, etc. If an institution is pursuing
an overlay solution, restricting it to just the public-facing website does
not offer support to the web environments in which students, faculty, and
staff may be utilizing on a daily basis.

If the intent is to fix the underlying web page for accessibility errors,
then I see adding such an overlay is a "nice-to-have" and can offer site
visitors the opportunity to customize their user experience. However, the
concern I would raise is that the commitment to fix the accessibility
errors can diminish quickly with the adoption of an overlay as the
perception becomes any problems have now magically disappeared.

Take care,
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