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Here is how to make your chatbot accessible for everyone!
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Here is how to make your chatbot accessible for everyone!

Here is how to make your chatbot accessible for everyone!

We love Chatbots

Chatbots are great, aren't they? They are those super-helpful bubbles that sit quietly at the bottom corner of a website, that allow you to start a live chat immediately.

They normally say "Chat with us now" or something equally friendly and helpful. They can be really useful to businesses that want to be responsive and accessible to their prospects.

We use one ourselves, it comes with Zoho, which is what we use as our CRM. They are lots of other chatbots available, of course and they all appear to function in the same way, as a helpful javascript overlay.

Given my last post (which was about overlays in general), you can perhaps guess where I am heading with this.

Except...

Overlays are inaccessible. Chatbots use overlays. Chatbots are inaccessible. QED.

As I explained in my recent TEDx Talk, website accessibility for disabled people is not always about making every part of your website, as long as there is an alternative available. Rather than replacing a flight of stairs with a ramp, you put one next to the other instead.

In my Website Accessibility Statement, I also explain that although our own code meets WCAG Standards, there may be cases where the 3rd party code we use does not. This is one of those cases.

There are always alternative ways to contact us (email, phone, social media etc..) so I felt this would be OK but it has always been at the back of my mind.

Was there another way it could be used?

So, today I did something different. The code required to start the chatbot was available in many forms. One of them was if the code was needed as a direct link, such as in an email.

The offending code has been removed from my 3 websites and has been replaced by simple links instead. Guess what? That chatbot is now accessible for visitors using screen readers as you can now fill in your details and start the chat without needing a mouse!

OK, you now leave our website and go straight to the website hosting the chatbot but I consider that is a very small price to pay!

By the way, we also use Calendly to allow visitors to book themselves for a consultation at a time convenient to them. We used to integrate their code into the sidebar of one of our home pages. That has now also been removed that as well and we just link to it instead!

We are called Access by Design for a reason. In this case, it was Access by someone else's Design!

Which would you rather have? A nice shiny overlay that doesn't work for disabled people or a simple link to another website that, whilst not perhaps being as shiny, works perfectly well for everyone!

I am going to war against overlays! Who is with me?

#Accessibility #Equality #Diversityinclusion #Webdesign #A11y

Would you like to find out more about website accessibility?

My TEDxTalk explains, in a very non-techy way, what website accessibility for disabled people actually means, how it affects your own website and what you should do about it. Please follow this link to watch it: https://youtu.be/i_Tjr6Mli4s

If you would like to find out more about website accessibility, we now have a website dedicated specifically to the subject! Please follow this link to visit it: https://accessibilityaudit.co.uk/

If you are interested in a free initial review of the accessibility of your website, why not book yourself a consultation? Please follow this link to do

so: https://calendly.com/cliveloseby/accessibility-audit-free-initial-consultation

Clive Loseby

Access by Design.  Accessible Websites, Beautifully Designed.

Outstanding Website Accessibility Audits

Award-winning web design, Chichester.