3 Common Accessibility Issues on eCommerce

Smiling woman holding a tablet and a credit card, potentially making an online purchase.

In the competitive digital landscape of eCommerce, ensuring accessibility for all users is critical for not losing sales. With the increasing reliance on online shopping platforms, it’s crucial for businesses to address accessibility issues to provide an inclusive experience for individuals with disabilities. In this post, we’ll explore three common accessibility issues encountered on eCommerce websites, shedding light on how they impact users and providing actionable solutions to mitigate them.

1. Alt text issues on product images

One of the fundamental practices of web accessibility is the provision of alternative text, or “alt text,” for images. Alt text serves as a textual description of images, providing context and information for users who rely on screen readers or assistive technologies. However, alt text problems on product images are a problem on many eCommerce websites, hindering the experience for users with visual impairments. Common issues include missing alt text, descriptions that are too generic, or inaccurate representations of the image content.

We have previously posted detailed suggestions for creating accessible product image alt text, but here’s a quick summary. For product image alt text, you should focus on a balance of informative and concise alt text for all product images. Each alt text should accurately describe the content and purpose of that specific image, including essential details such as product features, colors, and dimensions. Avoid using generic phrases like “image” or “image of” as alt text, as they provide no value for users relying on screen readers. By implementing robust alt text practices, eCommerce websites can significantly enhance the accessibility and usability of their product pages, ensuring that all users can fully engage with the content.

2. Images that include text

Promotional banner with text "Grow Participation with New & Renovated Products!" featuring images of a grilled sandwich, Cocoa Puffs soft filled bar, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch bar. The background is blue with an arrow and text "Scroll down for more information".

While images play a crucial role in enhancing the visual appeal of eCommerce websites, images containing text (like the one above) can pose significant accessibility challenges. Text embedded within images, such as promotional banners, advertisements, or product displays, cannot be accessed by screen readers unless accompanied by appropriate alternative text. This poses a barrier for users with visual impairments who rely on screen readers to interpret website content.

To address this accessibility issue, sites should adopt alternative strategies for conveying the textual information present in images. One effective approach is to separate text from images and present it as live text within the content of the page. By incorporating text directly into the webpage using accessible markup techniques, such as heading tags, businesses can ensure that all users, including those using screen readers, can access and comprehend the textual content. Additionally, providing alternative text descriptions for images containing the text can further enhance accessibility, offering a comprehensive experience for users with disabilities.

3. Video without captions or transcripts

Video content has emerged as a powerful tool over the last few years for showcasing products, demonstrating features, and engaging users. However, the absence of captions or transcripts in videos presents a significant accessibility barrier for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Without captions or transcripts, users with hearing impairments are unable to access the auditory content presented in videos, depriving them of valuable information and experiences.

To ensure inclusivity and accessibility, eCommerce websites must include captions or transcripts for all video content. Captions provide synchronized text descriptions of spoken dialogue and relevant audio cues, enabling users with hearing impairments to follow along with the video content.

Captions should be:

  • one or two lines at a time (not single words which flash by too quickly)
  • in a sans serif font
  • not have any highlighting of text
  • be normal “camel case” in capitalizations (not all caps, not all lower caps).

Automated tools on platforms like YouTube and Vimeo can generate captions for you, but definitely proofread these, as sometimes the automated text is embarrassingly wrong.

Transcripts offer a textual representation of the video’s dialogue and narration, providing an alternative means of accessing the information presented in the video. Additionally, transcripts offer the SEO benefit of having that conent be indexable for search engines.

By incorporating captions or transcripts into video content, eCommerce businesses can broaden their audience reach and demonstrate a commitment to accessibility and inclusion. Additionally, research shows that 80% of people who listen to videos with no sound are NOT hearing impaired, and may simply be in a situation where it’s not appropriate to play sound. Adding captions makes your video content available to everyone.


Addressing accessibility issues on eCommerce websites is imperative for fostering an inclusive online environment where all users can navigate, interact, and make purchases with ease. By recognizing and remedying common accessibility challenges such as alt text problems on product images, images containing text, and video content missing captions or transcripts, businesses can enhance the user experience not only for individuals with disabilities, but for all their customers. Embracing accessibility not only ensures compliance with regulatory standards but also reflects a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the digital realm. Through proactive measures and ongoing improvements, eCommerce websites can pave the way for a more accessible and equitable online shopping experience for all.

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