Web accessibility is imperative to consider in today’s world as users can now buy groceries, find housing, make purchases, or access essential resources all from their computer or mobile device. Having an accessible website will help you provide a better customer experience by considering users with different abilities and anyone who may not have an easy time browsing. If your website is difficult to read, is built with incorrect HTML, or is not compatible with accessible technology, chances are the site is not compliant with accessibility laws, making it difficult for a large percentage of the internet to access.
Why does Web Accessibility matter?
At its core, accessibility is driven by inclusivity. Inclusivity means considering the diverse range of users, not just the “average” user. According to the CDC, one in four Americans faces a disability that affects their life in a major way. Disabilities are more common with age and can affect the sight, hearing, cognition, and mobility of a person. Some common disabilities include color blindness, impaired sight, hearing loss, or difficulty handling a mouse or keyboard. With over 20% of the population affected by a disability, it’s important to remember that web accessibility is more than a buzz word, it is the difference between a user being able to access your page or not.
What if my website is not accessible?
While excluding users from your site can result in less traffic and lower sales, you might also become vulnerable to legal repercussions for doing so. Navigating the legality of web accessibility can be complicated and frustrating.
Simply put, the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA) of 1990 prohibits the discrimination on the basis of disability. In the August of 2006, accessibility advocates at the National Federation of the Blind filed a lawsuit against Target Corp. due to their inability to shop the retail store’s website. The case was eventually settled out of court. Target was fined $6 million dollars and pledged to update their website for better usability by differently abled users. This case was more than an expensive fine – it set a precedent for future cases and lawmakers.
Shortly after, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines(WCAG) were created in 2008 to help better translate the outdated ADA laws into a new world of websites. These guidelines consider the readability of text, color contrast ratios, and overall construction of a site. The most recent legislation was the Online Accessibility Act(H.R. 8478) introduced in October of 2020. This act intended for websites to pass the WCAG guidelines and if not complaint, the business could be prosecuted. While this bill ultimately did not pass, it showcased the need for clearer laws while continuing to heighten the awareness of accessible web standards.
How can I make sure my website is accessible?
While ideally every website should be accessible, achieving the goals of the ADA and WCAG takes time, investment, and expertise. For industries such as medical care, public resources, and essential services, accessibility should, without a doubt, be a top priority. For industries outside of these, accessibility can help your site be more inclusive, creating a smoother user interface.
The first step to ensuring that your site is compliant is research. Laws vary between cities, states, and even judicial junctions. Staying up to date on the latest legislation through the U.S. Department of Justice can help you navigate the ever changing terrain.
After becoming familiar with the surrounding policies, it’s time to consider the site design. Is that font easy to read? Are the proper HTML tags being used? Does your color palette have enough contrast? Is the site easily compatible with screen reader technology? These are all questions that our team takes into consideration when designing and developing a new website. We frequently utilize plug-ins that give users the ability to use accessibility tools without compromising on the style. Ultimately, the heart of web accessibility consists of clean, well organized choices that improve the functionality and create experience for all users.
When your site is easier for people to access, you can better serve your customers and community by being inclusive. Whether it’s adding new content or changes in your business, refreshing your site frequently is the best way to ensure it is optimal for users. Here at Made Right Media, we are committed to continue learning about accessibility as technology and legislation evolve. If you are interested in updating your website or ensuring that it is ADA compliant, we are happy to help! Together, we can help to establish better standards for the future of web accessibility. Get in touch with us for more information or to schedule a free consultation!