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Tweet from a disability activist explaining how to block overlays on a browser.

Disabled Users Block Accessible Overlays

One thing that stood out in the call was when a founder asserted that a silent majority of users were happy with the outcomes the overlay service offers, far outnumbering its vocal detractors. While he explained that most users are not disabled and therefore not affected, even for those who are disabled, presenting anything is better than the black boxes many sites were beforehand. That, in itself, does not make overlay results accurate, usable, or even a net good, considering the messaging that villainizes disabled users.

I did not expect to find that they had used the silent majority defense before, and that they have been trying to silence detractors by framing their valid experiences as misconceptions. Essentially they have been scheduling calls with people who have genuine problems with its tool and gaslighting them. When I shared the feedback post, stories of negative experiences started to come in on Twitter.

When you promise your product works perfectly and that disabled users love it, it may be difficult to reckon with these very users when they start sharing a method to disable your product.

Frustrated by their inaccessible product and failure to listen to years of complaints, some users have been sharing the domains and IP addresses to block it at their routers or with ad blocking extensions. They have determined that the best experience they can have with overlays is none. Perhaps the real silent majority will be those who never have to encounter it, thereby no longer needing to complain.

Stephen Clower has gathered instructions for blocking their overlay in his tutorial. He gives steps for blocking the overlays scripts in Windows, macOS, and Linux. He also links to Better for Safari and Derek Riemer’s AdBlock Plus filter.

In the follow-up Mosen at Large episode about the overlay, we hear from two developers (Mike Calvo and Matt Campbell) who have released a browser plug-in to disable overlays. The add-on, will monitor for overlay scripts, block them, and track the sites using them.

The ongoing lesson is that users do not feel overlays have delivered on there promise and are actively routing around the damage.

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