You wouldn’t exclude people with disabilities from entering your organization’s physical premises, so why would you even consider excluding these same individuals from interacting with your website or digital properties?
The last thing you will want to hear from your lawyer is that you have received a demand letter because of your failure to meet ADA website compliance. If you’re not familiar with the latest compliance requirements, the details about the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) are maintained by the Web Accessibility Initiative, which provide strategies, standards, and resources to help make websites accessible to individuals with disabilities.¹
Lawsuits because of disability access issues are no joke. In 2018, “there were 2,285 ADA website lawsuits filed in federal courts across the nation, an increase of 181 percent from 2017.”²
Accessibility means enabling people to use services despite any limitations they might happen to have. For example, cities make streets with curb cuts so that individuals who use wheelchairs aren’t stuck trying to find a safe way to cross the street, and the traffic signals are augmented with sounds indicating “stop” or “go” for those pedestrians who cannot see the changing lights. You may have noticed there are headphone jacks at automatic teller machines to assist those with a hearing impairment to access their funds. Being prevented from using a website can be just as frustrating as not being able to navigate a city that lacks physical accessibility features.
With that being said, it is critical for your organization to evaluate your own website from the perspective of people with disabilities. This will help you gain insight into potential obstacles and what steps you can take to rectify the problem. The result is that you will bring your site into ADA compliance as well as open your business to a larger percentage of potential customers and clients.
Examples of Aspects of Web Design that Can Prevent Access
Think of the important elements of your website that all visitors will need to access in order to learn about your organization, make product comparisons, ask for more information, or to put items in a shopping cart for an online purchase. If a website user cannot see or hear very well, there could be problems accessing text, images, or videos. The way your website is designed (perhaps with pull-down menus, for example), may be difficult to navigate for individuals with particular disabilities too.
“Imagine, if you will, shopping for something and being unable to click the ‘buy’ button or read the price,” noted a report from Vox… “Or getting most of the way through a transaction, only to discover that the button for submitting your order is not actually clickable.”³
Examining a Website from the Perspective of a Person with a Disability
When you build or update your website according to ADA guidelines, you will no longer settle for photographs that include text elements unreadable by a person with a visual disability, such as the shapes or size options of products. Keep this information in text form, so it can be read aloud by a screen reader.
A video that is embedded in your ADA compliant site will now have captions so a hearing impaired user can actually understand what’s going on. No matter what type of product or service you offer, accessibility audits are useful for verifying whether your site works for all people or if you still need to make some adjustments.
“With online sales, reservations and job postings now a huge part of modern commerce, advocates for the disabled say websites need to be as accessible to everyone, just as brick-and-mortar stores, restaurants and schools are.”4
How to Make Sure Your Organization’s Website Remains Accessible
There are a lot of considerations when it comes to ensuring that your organization’s website is not only informative, interesting, and engaging, but also fully accessible to all members of the population. To help you and your fellow stakeholders gain greater insight into compliance with the latest in ADA guidelines, download eSSENTIAL Accessibility’s free and informative WGAG 2.1 Checklist. Better yet, request a time to chat with a member of our team today. We’re here to help guide you through your journey to complete digital accessibility.
- Web Accessibility Initiative: WCAG 2.1 at a Glance
- ABC News 10: Businesses ‘sitting ducks’ for lawsuits because websites aren’t ADA compliant, Feb.7, 2019
- Vox: Websites need to be more accessible for disabled people, Feb 5, 2019′
- Los Angeles Times: Lawsuits targeting business websites over ADA violations are on the rise, Nov. 11, 2018