In our last post, we talked about how companies are required by law to treat their customers equally, regardless of ability. That includes having website that is fully accessible.
Equal treatment is a guaranteed right under the Human Rights Code, but website accessibility also falls under standards like the ADA, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, AODA among others.
If a website isn’t designed to be fully accessible, a huge market will be missed. Legal requirements aside, the numbers are staggering: In 2006, about 4.4 million Canadians (14.3%, or one in seven) reported having a disability (in Ontario, it’s 15.5%, about one in six). It’s estimated that Canadians with disabilities have spending power of $25 billion, and that they influence the buying decisions of 12 to 15 others.
This is a market too large to ignore.
For many people, both with and without disabilities, the digital era provides a vital connection to the world. People with disabilities in particular may turn to a company’s website if factors like inclement weather or lack of accessible transportation pose barriers to shopping at a bricks-and-mortar store. If customers with a disability can successfully go online and make a purchase, it’s a win-win. But if your website isn’t accessible, you’ve just lost business – probably to your competition.
Bolstering website accessibility for people with disabilities has an appealing side benefit: it makes websites easier for everyone to use. Accessible websites are often easier for people using mobile devices, for instance. Assistive technology that’s designed to get people with disabilities online is also universally useful. Speech-to-text capabilities, for example, are helpful for anyone who prefers to dictate, rather than type, a text or email.
What do you need to do to ensure that you’re meeting the web accessibility guidelines?
- Conforming to WCAG 2.0 level AA
By January 1, 2021, all organizations’ websites and web content must conform to Level AA under the AODA. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to WCAG compliance. The guidelines make for a long document. If your webmaster isn’t already familiar with it, it’s time to do some reading – the sooner, the better.
- Regularly audits
Auditing your website on an annual or semi-annual basis, helps you maintain compliance levels for all your digital properties. It also helps you stay up to date with new regulations.
An Innovative Solution
eSSENTIAL ACCESSIBILITY has developed a comprehensive accessibility solution to help organizations follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and achieve and maintain compliance with standards and regulations. This includes integrating web compliance evaluation services with assistive technology to deliver a transformative experience for people with disabilities. Learn more about eSSENTIAL ACCESSIBILITY’s innovative solution.