Can AI Do Website Accessibility For You?

The Limitations of Current AI Tools

Can artificial intelligence (AI), like ChatGPT or Google Bard, audit or remediate your website for accessibility? AI can help, but it’s limited so the best way to think of AI is it can help answer questions directly and it can assist accessibility experts, but it won’t be able to audit your website for ADA compliance or fix the accessibility issues.

The limitation lies in the AI training and datasets, meaning these tools can’t exceed their programming. For example, you can’t expect Google Bard to audit your website if you give it a URL.

Real-Life Interactions with AI

In a practical demonstration, when asked to audit a website for accessibility, Bard said it could not provide a full manual audit due to limited tools and information. Similarly, ChatGPT offers guidance but the information is basically what’s available through a Google search. This is because these are large language models (LLMs), trained on vast datasets to mimic human language processing. However, they don’t “think” but predict text based on context.

AI’s Capabilities

While there are numerous AI tools for image recognition, data analysis, and content editing, their effectiveness is also limited by their training and data.

In theory, AI could be trained to on website accessibility and execute tasks, but this would be a very difficult and time-consuming task and the risk for anyone who attempts to build such an AI tool would be that technology would render such a tool meaningless.

The Role of Fine-Tuning in AI

Fine-tuning involves adapting a pre-trained model like ChatGPT for more specific tasks. For example, training an image recognition tool to specialize in x-ray analysis could be invaluable in medicine. However, it’s crucial to look at the performance difference between the general and trained models.

If the underlying training is weak, then a fine-tuned model won’t perform well. In fact, the performance may be worse than the general model.

The Future: Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)

AGI, necessary for the “do everything for me” prompt stage, remains a theoretical concept and is not yet available. It promises human-level intelligence and beyond, capable of tasks like full website audits and remediation, and using assistive technologies for accessibility checks.

“AI-Powered” Overlays

You may have heard marketing claims of “AI-powered” from accessibility overlay widget sellers. However, these claims have existed for years before ChatGPT was released and it’s unclear what artificial intelligence is even in play beyond very basic image recognition that provides poor alternative text.

Conclusion: AI Can Help But it Can’t Do Everything

AI can help anybody improve and understand digital accessibility and how to make their website ADA compliant. However, it can’t execute on tasks and audit and remediate your website.

If you need help with ADA compliance and accessibility, contact us and we’ll be right with you.