Internet Ads and Accessibility

In the Twitter #autchat discussion about social media accessibility this week, a topic came up that has been bothering me quite a bit lately. The issue is one of internet ads and the websites that now detect AdBlock and require that the program be turned off (i.e. the website be whitelisted) before anyone can access their articles.

Now, I totally understand why the websites in question have this policy. I get it. They need revenue to continue existing. People need to be paid for the good work they do and I support people getting paid a living wage.

Some websites offer the option to pay and get an ad-free experience and I appreciate that, even when I’m not fully willing or able to do that. At least they offer the option.

But the websites that don’t offer any alternatives to turning AdBlock off are creating an accessibility issue. On many of these sites, most of the ads they host make the site inaccessible to me once they’re visible.

I simply cannot focus on the article when there are ads moving in the margins. Sometimes I cannot stay on the page at all without risking a horrible headache or exhaustion. Often I will just close the tab after seeing what ads they host because there’s no point in trying further.

The ads that cause problems for me and many other Autistic people include video ads, blinking ads, ads with automatic sounds or music, and ads containing any type of automatic moving.

I’d like to suggest that websites offer more possibilities. If you’re going to require that everyone disable AdBlock on your site, then perhaps you could offer the option to select a “static ad experience” that only has photo ads instead of video, audio, and moving ads of all sorts. Or the option to pay a small yearly fee for no ads at all.

Not all of us have AdBlock just because we don’t like ads. Some of us literally cannot read your website if it contains moving advertisements. Some of us are incredibly distressed by sudden sounds and movements on our screens.

If you want people to be able to access your content then you need to offer options. If you want that ad revenue then you need to have ads on your site that allow the most people to see and click on them. Or at least that allow anyone who needs static ads to choose that as an option.

The truth is that I almost never click on ads anyhow. I don’t have any extra money to spend on random stuff I see online. However, if you want me to be able to see them and maybe someday potentially click on one, then you need to make them accessible to me and to other people who have similar ad-related struggles.

I’m so glad to find out from #autchat that I’m not the only one! I’d been wanting to bring this issue up with #ActuallyAutistic twitter, but wasn’t quite sure how to begin the topic.

It’s always a relief to find out that there are others out there who struggle with the same things I do.

Now, if only website owners would think of and consider some alternative ideas that would be beneficial for all of us, including their financial situation!

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5 thoughts on “Internet Ads and Accessibility

  1. Lots of the same problems. I hate moving animations so if i could just disable all motion i would. No longer such setting…
    other ads are pretty inaccessible too. Ever notice how impossible it’s to guess from a tv ad what product is being advertised if you only hear the ad? Car commercial, headphones, cosmetic? So many ads have nothing but music.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Yes! 👏🏼👏🏼. Preach it girl, preach it ❤️. I have the same issue. Adblock has been one of the single coolest developments for browsing the internet; indeed, it has made it bearable again. Before, I would have to literally hold my hand over the ads to cover them up. Adblock relieved all this – and my arm muscles lol. But then websites started getting wise, and in a big ol’ cat-and-mouse game, they found ways to circumvent our circumvention. Irritating! Definitely creates an accessibility issue. I can only imagine what blind internet users must go through, as their software converts all the images to audio 😔. Thank you for writing about this ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Reblogged this on the silent wave and commented:
    This fantastic post by the lovely Aria Skye highlights a significant-but-often-overlooked issue that can become particularly impactful for autistic people, epileptic people, ADHD people, blind people (whose visual-to-audio translating software may or may not bombard them with advertising or code-gobbledygook, and so many more segments of the population (in general).

    Indeed, advertising has become a cat-and-mouse game of Obnoxiousness vs Desperation for Calm. The advertising industry seems to know no shame and possess no standards. Their tactics have gone far enough that the very concept of ease of accessibility to the internet (or practically any other media these days) is becoming more of a question than a given.

    This excellent, insightful blog posts highlights the issue much more eloquently than I ever can. A great read!! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 3 people

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