In November 2022, Meetup.com raised concerns with the WordPress community (and the broader community of accessibility professionals) after it added an accessibility overlay to its website, powered by EqualWeb. Accessibility advocates and professionals unequivocally discourage the use of overlays as they are often marketed as a quick fix for making websites ADA compliant and immune from legal action when the accessibility issues persist underneath.
Meetup.com removed the accessibility overlay in response to the WordPress community’s concerns and committed to focus on direct improvements to the Meetup.com platform. WordPress’ Accessibility team reports that the company is following through with this undertaking and has completed an assessment with Deque, a well-respected accessibility consultancy.
The assessment identified 732 issues that need to be resolved, which Meetup.com plans to address through two phases. Approximately 40% of the issues are related to design and color contrast. These will be resolved in the first phase with the help of an external consultant who will guide Meetup.com’s engineers and staff to fix issues and ensure ongoing compliance. In the second phase, the company will tackle the remaining issues which center on web remediation. These include problems with the site’s component library and website components.
Meetup.com serves approximately 24 million visitors every month in more than 190 countries. The WordPress project uses the platform for local meetups and educational events – both virtual and in-person. As a result of WordPress’ diplomatic advocacy and Meetup.com’s reception to user feedback, the platform will soon provide a better experience for people with disabilities and those who use assistive technology.