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Breaking Down Barriers: Debunking Myths and Misconceptions about Web Accessibility

Kimberly Springs

Jeff Rodgers

June 09 10 min read

Ensuring web accessibility is crucial for creating inclusive digital experiences that enable people with diverse abilities to access and interact with websites, applications, and other digital content. Despite the growing awareness of web accessibility, numerous myths and misconceptions remain to be dispelled.

In this article, we will debunk common myths associated with web accessibility, explain why each myth is incorrect, and provide recommendations for businesses to achieve ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), and Section 508 compliance.

Myth 1: Web Accessibility Only Affects a Small Group of Users

The Reality: Accessibility Benefits a Large and Diverse Population

Contrary to this myth, ADA and web accessibility do not just cater to a small group of people. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 15% of the world’s population, or around 1 billion people, live with some form of disability.

Web accessibility also benefits people who may not identify as having a disability, such as individuals with temporary or situational disabilities and users with cognitive limitations.

In addition to those with disabilities, web accessibility also benefits:

  • The aging population, who may experience reduced vision, hearing, or cognitive abilities.
  • Users with temporary disabilities, such as an eye injury or a broken arm.
  • Users with situational disabilities, like a new parent holding a baby or a driver needing to use a hands-free device.
  • Users whose native language is not English may require additional time to read and process information.

By making your website accessible, you are creating an inclusive environment that caters to a wide variety of users, ensuring that your app, website, or document is usable by everyone.

Myth 2: Web Accessibility Is Expensive and Time-Consuming

The Reality: Accessibility Can Be Cost-Effective When Implemented Early

While retrofitting an existing website for accessibility can be costly and time-consuming, if accessibility is considered from the beginning of a web development project, the overall cost and effort can be significantly reduced.

When accessibility becomes an internal habit, the development process is streamlined, and maintaining compliance becomes even more manageable.

Several studies have shown that accessible websites outperform less-accessible sites by as much as 20% in customer satisfaction. Not to mention people with disabilities are estimated to have more than $200 billion in potential spending power!

Moreover, websites designed with accessibility in mind may also see additional benefits in the form of increased user engagement, improved SEO, and increased loyalty from users who know they can reliably access your site.

Furthermore, by investing in web accessibility, businesses can potentially avoid costly lawsuits, improve their online reputation, and reach a wider audience.

Myth 3: Web Accessibility Is Only About Following the WCAG

The Reality: True Accessibility Goes Beyond Compliance

Although WCAG compliance is a crucial first step, true accessibility in the real world demands a comprehensive understanding of all user needs along with a culture of empathy and awareness. Businesses must endeavor to develop digital experiences that are inclusive and serve a diverse range of users, including those with disabilities. This requires careful consideration of various aspects of web design, including typography, color contrast, and navigation.

In addition to following the WCAG, businesses should also consider other accessibility guidelines, such as Section 508 and ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications), and best practices to ensure their digital products are genuinely accessible.

According to a WebAIM survey, 69% of users with disabilities prefer screen readers, while others rely on keyboard navigation. Usability testing and incorporating user feedback are vital for creating an inclusive user experience.

Accessiblü focuses on both technical compliance and user-centric design, helping businesses create accessible websites that meet the diverse needs of their users.

Myth 4: Web Accessibility Is Just a Developer’s Responsibility

The Reality: Accessibility Is a Team Effort

Digital accessibility should be a collaborative effort involving designers, developers, QA engineers, project managers, legal teams, and content managers. Each team member is crucial in creating and maintaining accessible digital experiences.

  • Designers must create accessible user interfaces (UIs)
  • Developers must build accessible components and functionality
  • QA engineers and accessibility professionals must perform accessibility testing.
  • Project managers must ensure accessibility is included in team processes
  • Legal teams must assess the product’s accessibility risk
  • Content managers must create compliant content

By working together, a team can create a truly inclusive digital experience.

Myth 5: Accessibility Means Redesigning the Entire Website

The Reality: Incremental Improvements Can Make a Difference

Many businesses believe achieving ADA compliance and web accessibility requires a complete website overhaul. This is not necessarily the case. While it is ideal to design an accessible website from the ground up, it is possible to make incremental improvements to an existing site to improve accessibility.

Some improvements are easy, and free to implement. Simple fixes like adding ALT+Text for images and descriptive links can have a big impact on improving accessibility.

By focusing on critical areas such as semantic HTML, ARIA attributes, and WCAG compliance, businesses can make meaningful progress toward creating a more accessible digital experience.

Myth 6: Digital Accessibility Is a One-Time Project

The Reality: Accessibility Is an Ongoing Process

Creating an accessible website is not a one-time project but an ongoing effort requiring regular monitoring, updates, and maintenance. As websites and applications evolve, new accessibility issues may arise, requiring continuous attention and action.

Organizations should prioritize ongoing training for employees, as well as regular accessibility audits and updates, to ensure their digital properties remain accessible and inclusive.

Accessibility monitoring is another low-cost way to protect your investment and ensure your website stays accessible. This is especially critical if multiple people consistently add new content to provide access to recent posts, content, and media are accessible.

To show inclusivity and keep up with changing technologies, businesses should regularly monitor and address accessibility concerns. By doing so, they can prevent any future issues and comply with ADA, WCAG, and Section 508 guidelines. Being proactive about accessibility is crucial for a business’s success.

Myth 7: Automated Tools Are Sufficient for Web Accessibility

The Reality: A Combination of Automated and Manual Testing Is Necessary

Automated tools can help identify some accessibility issues but cannot replace human expertise.

Disabilities are human conditions and require a human solution!

Automated tools, such as screen readers and accessibility checkers, help identify some accessibility issues. However, they cannot detect and resolve all potential problems. In fact, automated accessibility testing can only find 30-50% of all accessibility issues.

To ensure comprehensive web accessibility, businesses should employ a combination of automated and manual testing methods. This includes using screen readers, keyboard testing, and engaging users with disabilities in the testing process.

Myth 8: Accessibility Can Be Fixed with an Overlay

The Reality: Overlays are NOT a Comprehensive Solution

Accessibility overlays, added to a website to provide an additional layer of accessibility features, are not a comprehensive solution for creating an accessible website. Experts advise against using web accessibility overlays as they can hinder and frustrate users with disabilities.

We’ve explained why overlays are not accessible in previous blogs, but if you’re looking for a second opinion, the Overlay Fact Sheet is a good place to start.

When businesses use overlay solutions, they often face lawsuits because courts have determined that overlays do not meet the WCAG standards and are, therefore, not compliant with ADA or 508 regulations.

Instead of relying on overlays, organizations should focus on integrating accessibility best practices throughout their digital properties’ design, development, and management.

Myth 9: Accessibility Is Optional Until Faced with a Lawsuit

The Reality: Proactive Accessibility Reduces Legal Risks

It is true that some businesses only consider web accessibility after facing a lawsuit; this approach can be costly and damaging to a brand’s reputation. By proactively addressing accessibility issues and maintaining ADA and Section 508 compliance, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of legal action.

Prioritizing web accessibility is essential to avoid lawsuits, but it also aims to create a positive user experience for all visitors, regardless of their abilities. The main goal of accessibility is to promote inclusivity.

Prioritizing user satisfaction and accessibility can improve brand reputation and showcase commitment to inclusivity, benefiting organizations legally and socially.

Myth 10: Accessible Websites Are Less Visually Appealing

The Reality: Accessible Design Can Be Beautiful and Engaging

One common misconception is that accessible websites must sacrifice visual appeal and design creativity to be inclusive. This is not true. By incorporating accessibility principles into the design process, businesses can create visually engaging and beautifully designed websites catering to diverse users.

It is important to balance design and inclusivity so that their user interface is captivating and easy for everyone to use.

Using modern web design techniques and CSS, designers can create attractive designs that comply with accessibility standards. Numerous examples of visually appealing and accessible websites exist, demonstrating that aesthetics and accessibility can coexist harmoniously.

Incorporating accessibility into the design process does not mean sacrificing aesthetics or creativity. Instead, it creates a more inclusive, user-friendly digital experience that benefits everyone.

Myth 11: Accessibility Only Applies to Websites

The Reality: Accessibility Extends Beyond Websites

While web accessibility is essential to digital inclusion, accessibility extends beyond websites and includes other digital properties, such as mobile applications, software, and digital documents.

Digital documents such as PDFs are notorious for being inaccessible. Businesses must ensure that support guides, manuals, and legal documentation, such as end-user agreements, are accessible.

Organizations should strive to create inclusive experiences across all digital properties, ensuring that users with disabilities can access and engage with their content, products, and services.

Myth 12: Web Accessibility Only Requires Adding ALT+Text to images.

The Reality: ALT+Text is a Great First Step Towards Accessibility

While alt-text is an essential component of web accessibility, it is just one aspect of a comprehensive approach. Organizations can take a significant step towards improving the accessibility of their website by fixing missing ALT+Text and improper heading levels.

With alt text, screen reader users will have information about the image. Missing ALT+Text can confuse them about the content. By providing accurate and descriptive alt text, website owners can ensure that all users have a comprehensive and inclusive experience.

Additionally, alt text can benefit users with slow internet connections or when images fail to load. They can still understand the context and meaning of the image through the alt text. Addressing missing alt text shows website owners’ commitment to inclusivity and makes their content accessible to a broader range of users, ultimately improving the overall user experience on their website.

Headings also play a crucial role in website accessibility and content structure, according to the well-known web accessibility group. A WebAIM survey revealed that screen reader users heavily rely on headings to navigate web pages. By utilizing proper heading structure, not only can you improve accessibility, but you can also enhance SEO and organize your content more effectively.


By debunking these common myths and misconceptions surrounding web accessibility, businesses can take a more proactive approach to creating inclusive digital experiences. Achieving ADA, WCAG, and Section 508 compliance is an ongoing process that requires collaboration, commitment, and a focus on the needs of all users.

To ensure the success of your accessibility efforts, you should work with an experienced accessibility company that can guide you through the process and help you achieve and maintain compliance. By prioritizing digital accessibility, your business can create a more inclusive and user-friendly experience for everyone.

Web accessibility is a legal requirement and a moral and ethical imperative. By debunking common myths and misconceptions surrounding web accessibility, we hope to highlight the importance of making websites inclusive for all users.

By partnering with an experienced accessibility company like Accessiblu, businesses can harness the potential of an inclusive digital space, ensuring compliance, expanding reach, and providing an enriching user experience for all. Embrace accessibility, break down barriers, and create a digital environment where everyone can thrive.