Meetup.com Removes Accessibility Overrides In Response To WordPress Community Concerns – WP Tavern

Meetup.com has removed its accessibility overlay, a recent addition to the company’s website that has raised concerns among the WordPress community and the wider community of accessibility professionals. overly is powered by EqualWeb, a product that claims to automatically comply with accessibility standards, but doesn’t address the underlying problem of inaccessibility.

The WordPress community team lead requested a meeting with the company and convinced them to remove the override and focus on directly improving the Meetup.com platform. WordPress Community Organizer Angela Jin reports that their Director of Engineering and other team members are “very receptive to our feedback”.

“EqualWeb’s widget does scan for accessibility issues, and the original plan was for EqualWeb’s team (real people!) to provide incremental fixes for the overlay,” Jin said. “The hope with Meetup is to provide a fully accessible overlay over time.”

During the meeting, WordPress’ community team representatives argued that overlays create a poor user experience for people using assistive technologies, while also ignoring key WCAG issues. That’s why there are growing legal and privacy issues related to overlays that don’t deliver on the promise of equal and open platform access.

After reporting the problem earlier this month, a reader asked if the overrides actually fixed the problem, and if so, what sparked the complaint.

“They don’t work,” says WordPress accessibility contributor Joe Dolson. “To the extent that they do work, most of the functionality they provide has been replicated by users’ own technology.”

Dolson examines Meetup.com’s overlay and highlights some of its major shortcomings:

This particular override also makes the major mistake of labeling tools by function, rather than by what they do. For example, if you turn on Visually Impaired mode, that’s actually a high-contrast mode; this only matters if your visual impairment benefits from high-contrast. This putative labeling is ineffective at best (because it’s hard to find tools that can actually help you if you need it) and offensive at worst.

But the reality is that overlay tools are misleading resources: if users want high contrast, large fonts, or other tools, they need those all Web site, they need a solution that is their tool, controlled by them, with their settings — most users already have that in their assistive technology. “

As part of revising its accessibility roadmap, Meetup.com is seeking feedback from members of the WordPress community who have experience using its platform on devices with accessibility features enabled. Those with 50 minutes over the next few weeks can request to speak with a Meetup representative about which features should be prioritized. People can also leave feedback in the comments.

Meetup.com’s decision to remove the overlay has been welcomed by accessibility advocates, who expect more changes to the platform’s source code in the coming weeks based on community feedback. In addition to these changes, some community members have suggested that Meetup.com add people with disabilities to their teams to gain more first-hand information without having to publicly shy away from such an implementation.

“While I applaud Meetup for removing the overlay, they are going backwards,” WordPress user @bryan202 said in a comment. “They should have an independent company that hires people with disabilities to audit their platform and inform them of issues. If Meetup wants To get feedback on the specific issues this coverage choice is causing, then they should be willing to pay for that market feedback.

“As people with disabilities, we are often asked to give feedback for free. Our time, effort, and feedback are respected. Meetup needs to expand their tech team to include people with disabilities so they can see what’s going on internally, as their current team lacks this an important part.”

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