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accessiBe Review [2024]: Can It Make Your Site Accessible?

Ezequiel Bruni Ezequiel Bruni Expert

accessiBe’s plugins and services are a great way to boost your site’s accessibility, with the caveat that no accessibility solution is perfect for every user. These services are best used as tools to help you improve your site over time, not as a band-aid for poorly-built sites.

That said, if you’re just starting out with accessibility standards compliance, accessiBe can definitely help1.

Overview

accessiBe is clearly trying to be your primary solution for web accessibility, and its products are aimed at small website owners and pro developers alike. Moreover, its pricing plans are designed to accommodate just about every size of business.

accessiBe’s drop-in solution, accessWidget, is designed to work with custom-built websites, WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Joomla, and many, many more services and CMSs. For developers, there are tools you can build into your own app.

But does it work, and is it right for you? Well, I have pretty severe ADHD, and I have a stake in finding out because accessibility matters a lot to me. So I built a test website, and tried it. I think it’s pretty good, and you’ll see why as you read on.

Features & Ease of Use

Here’s the quick rundown:

  • The free trial of accessWidget is incredibly easy to install and use1, even easier than setting up my WordPress test site turned out to be.
  • Every user on every plan gets regular website monitoring and accessibility audits.
  • Expert human help is available (for a price).
  • It boasts up-to-date WCAG compliance (and many competitors don’t have that).

Side note: I ran a quick test, and my test site loaded in 1.4 seconds in GTmetrix with the plugin, and in 1.1 seconds without. It’s a performance hit to be sure, but a very small one, on an unoptimized WordPress site.

On WordPress, accessiBe’s plugin is a two-click install:

the Add Plugin screen in WordPress, featuring the accessWidget plugin
accessWidget is incredibly easy to install on most platforms
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accessiBe Covers a Plethora of Conditions

Here’s a short list of conditions that can at least partially be alleviated with the plugin:

  • “Mild” visual impairment. You can change the size and formatting of text, and the size of every element on the page, to improve readability. I also found a notable improvement in keyboard navigation especially.
  • Severe visual impairment. accessWidget can help integrate your website with screen readers.
  • Color-blindness. There are filters to increase contrast and make your site more readable.
  • Cognitive impairments. You can disable distracting sounds, and automatically highlight important bits of the page.
  • Light-induced seizures. There are features for reducing color, disabling animations, and anything else that might flash.

Each feature can be toggled separately, but you can also activate several at once through the use of profiles:

accessWidget on my test website, with the Cognitive Disability Profile enabled
accessWidget’s profiles in action
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Lastly, the widget is customizable so it can better match your branding.

accessWidget Uses AI To Examine Websites for Problems (and Tweak Them)

accessWidget uses AI (as in machine learning) to analyze your website1 and provide regular reports on your site’s usability. If you or your team are regularly adding content to your site, this can help to catch any newly-introduced accessibility issues before too long.

The widget itself can also use this analysis to help with things like improved keyboard navigation and screen reader compatibility.

accessiBe Has Options for Developers

Building in accessibility from the ground up is the best option. For developers, accessiBe offers services and tools that can monitor your site for usability issues as you build it.

accessFlow uses the AI used by accessWidget1, and offers more in-depth site monitoring. Of accessiBe’s two main products, this is the one I’d recommend as a solution for a site that is about to be, or is currently, in development.

Pricing and Support

accessWidget is not super-cheap, and I wouldn’t use it on a personal blog, but it’s affordable enough for a small business. For that purpose, the cheapest plan is more than good enough to get started. If you need more, you could almost skip the Large plan for websites under 10,000 pages and go straight to Huge, for websites under 100,000 pages.

You can take advantage of a free 7-day trial to test accessWidget1, and Enterprise plans are available for websites with more than 100,000 pages.

Lastly, a litigation support package is included free of charge to help you correct any issues on your site in the event of a compliance challenge, and to mitigate potential fallout from lawsuits. This includes personal support in the form of professional audits and supporting documentation.

Support

Aside from the litigation support mentioned above, regular customer support comes in two flavors: live chat that is available on weekdays but not 24/7, and a ticket system.

Live Chat

I basically asked, “Do you have any tips on improving load times and page speed?” At first, the agent didn’t understand my question and copy/pasted in some standard responses (no one types that fast), and then couldn’t really answer me once they did understand.

the response I got from my live chat query.
The live chat agents are only trained for straightforward questions

Support Tickets

You can send in support requests via a form in the Support Portal (which also includes an extensive knowledge base). I sent in a ticket regarding an issue I had with slightly blurry text in the widget. It took a day to get the initial reply, and then another for my final answer.

The short version? It’s apparently a bug with how Chromium browsers and certain monitors interact. Given that I saw the bug present on multiple devices, but behaving differently on each one, I can believe that. accessiBe is working on it.

This was how that conversation went:

My email conversation with accessiBe
The ticket/email support was slower, but much more informative

accessiBe REVIEW: BOTTOM LINE

accessiBe’s accessWidget is a great way to boost your site’s accessibility compliance, with the caveat that no accessibility solution is perfect for every user. Again, it’s better to build accessibility features into your site from the start, but accessWidget can help a lot, especially for small businesses on a budget1.

Developers and agencies should look at the accessFlow platform1 instead.

Pros:
  • Covers a lot of potential conditions.
  • Can help you to make your site compliant with legal and industry standards
  • Will help you keep an ongoing eye on your site’s accessibility
  • Can provide expert human help

Cons:
  • There is a slight performance hit in page load times.
  • Bits of the UI look slightly blurry when my browser window is maximized. I have reported this to accessiBe, though it may be a browser issue. They happen.
  • There are reports of the “focus bar” feature being distracting rather than helpful to those with ADHD.

FAQ

Is accessiBe ADA compliant?

Yes! And accessiBe also promises compliance with the following standards: WCAG 2.1, AODA, Section 508, and EAA/EN301549.

Does accessiBe Work With Squarespace?

Yes. In fact, it’s one of the fully-supported platforms. See our article on Squarespace accessibility to find out more.

Is accessiBe affordable?

For the target audience, yes it is. Individual website owners and hobbyists may find it a bit expensive. If you’re using WordPress, you may want to check out our list of the best WordPress accessibility plugins for more options.

Will accessWidget prevent lawsuits?

While I found it to be quite good, no automated solution can stop all accessibility-related lawsuits – though accessiBe does offer litigation support for free with all its products1. accessWidget is a great way to augment the accessibility features built into the better WordPress themes and site builders. Use it as one more tool in your toolbox, not as a panacea.

The best solution is to build an accessible site from the ground up, and accessiBe’s accessFlow platform can help with that1.
Ezequiel Bruni Ezequiel Bruni
Ezequiel Bruni is biologically Canadian, legally Mexican, and self identifies as a total nerd. He’s been a web and experience designer off and on since he was a teenager, and loves sharing the kind of beginner’s advice he really wishes he’d had when he first started. He also loves video games, tacos, open source software, video games, sci-fi and fantasy in all their forms, and video games. He does not love writing in the third person.
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