Every business owner is panic regarding website accessibility. The reason behind this is the increasing number of lawsuits by plaintiffs for the businesses. The common view is that Title III of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to websites and requires that they be accessible to the public on desktop computers as well as laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices.
In addition, some courts have ruled that businesses have a legal obligation to require third-party vendors to make their applications accessible even if they operate only within the businesses’ websites. Even if a business successfully defends a claim, the expenses of litigation may exceed the cost of compliance. Also, the business evaluates the reputational risk.
What is Web Accessibility?
It is easy to build a website but it is important to build it for the disabled ones. So, an accessible website must be – used by all types of people like normal as well as disabled with various sight, hearing, and mobility problems.
Why Does Web Accessibility Matter?
Basically, the goal of building a website is to reach more consumers. What if you cannot give access to the ones you care about? A customer can be anyone, including the disabled ones. By not providing a clear, easy way for people in your target audience to reach you, based only on a very particular characteristic, doesn’t make business sense. So, you are losing a mass of consumers by not making a website accessible for them. Thus, your website accessibility matters otherwise, there are a lot more competitors who care about all of the users and will easily steal your target audience from your website or else you might have to face litigation.
What Should Businesses Do?
Website accessibility lawsuits are proving to be challenging to defend and expensive to resolve. There are two cases –
First – Cases are settled if the court finds that a website is inaccessible – it orders to make inconvenient and to pay the plaintiff’s attorney’s fee, costs, and expenses.
Second – business needs to pay the plaintiff monetary damages or civil penalties under state/local law.
If a business receives a letter of litigation then it must consult a legal counsel and their web designer immediately. Engaging a web accessibility consultant to review their online platforms and, ultimately, certify compliance also is strongly recommended. Plus, it is mandatory to check the web accessibilities guidelines.
What are Web Accessibility Guidelines?
Every business must go through the guidelines that are introduced by Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). TheW3G organizes the standards into four principles:
Principle 1 – Perceivable
Provides Alt-text For Non-text Content
The simplest way to explain an image or non-text content is by providing an alt tag. The easiest example is what’s called an “alt tag” for images. Alt tags provide just that – a text alternative for an image file. They are useful in many ways for different people. Like for low internet speed, an image takes time in loading, an alt text will describe what the image is about. Plus, for people with visual impairment, alt text is a way to explain the image as well as for better understanding the content on the website.
In addition, alt tags are great for Search engine Optimization. A description that accurately describes the subject of the image helps Google and users understand it, even if they can’t see it because of any reason.
Other forms of text alternatives include descriptive captions, well-titled forms, and even text tables to support visual graphs. As a result, users have a better experience across any device.
Provides Captions and Other Alternatives for Multimedia
A caption is another way to make non-text content readable like a video or audio element. It’s important to support these media in ways that can be accessed regardless of device or disability.
Create Content Presentable in Different Ways
Content must be presented in a way that would be impressive even without styling it. Besides, this has an SEO benefit as well. Clear structured content, whether by correct header levels or by correctly identifying elements like tables as such, helps search engines understand the content on a page.
Make it Easier for Users to See Content
Color is a strong visual element that a website can definitely use to its fullest extent to drive action and create a cohesive brand. Within that, sites should also use a color with consideration and not as the only visual means of conveying information.
Other considerations include a high contrast level between text and its background. The text must be resizable without loss of content or functionality and providing alternatives for images of text.
Principle 2 – Operable
Make All Functionality Available From a Keyboard
Making all functions available from a keyboard relies mainly on not blocking any functionality. In addition, change the keyboard interaction for an interactive experience by advising the user on how to navigate.
Almost everyone is familiar with the common functionality of jumping between elements on the computer using the tab button. By this, it’s possible to access the keyboard without using the mouse.
Give Users Enough Time to Read and Use Content
One of the best examples to explain this point is, the sliding images. These kinds of images don’t allow enough time for the user to read. In addition, giving control to the user to pause the image is the best way to make your website impressive.
Do Not Use Content That Causes Seizures
It is mandatory not to use anything that flashes more than three times in a second, according to WCAG 2.0.
For instance, a video of a flashbulb may violate this rule. This can be improved by decreasing the contrast of the content or by slow down the flash to below the threshold.
Help Users Navigate and Find Content
The best practice is helping users navigate and find content. Ultimately, it is an accessibility necessity.
The specific techniques in this area of website operability include:
- Clear page titles
- Well-organized content
- Easy to understand website structure
- Descriptive link text (Like “Click Here”)
- Clear and frequent headers that provide structure to on-page content
Principle 3 – Understandable
Make Text Readable and Understandable
The language of a page must be clear and understandable. Plus, the content must appear and operate in predictable ways. That’s the purpose of content architecture and navigation.
Relatedly, the main navigation should always remain the same on any page and remain in the same location. On complex sites, there may be sub-navigation areas for particular areas of the site. The same location and clear denotation are important.
Principle 4 – Robust
Maximize Compatibility With Current and Future User Tools
It states that the content of the website must be robust enough to be interpreted by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
Furthermore, it also includes responsive design as well as cross-browser compatibility. This means the website should not change the content, meaning, or delivery depending on a user’s browser, for example, chrome, firefox, internet explorer, etc.
Checklist for Identifying Website Accessibility Issues
Businesses should engage with the professionals in terms of their website accessibility or web development to get reviewed for the accessibility of their website. For basic knowledge, every website owner must go through the checklist to identify ADA web accessibility issues and resolve them.
Technology is great that it allows all types of users to create a better experience by the businesses. By adding such features, convenient for the users to access the website is beneficial for both sides, SEO as well as sales. Plus, the discrimination factor is eliminated and people are able to deliver their products and services to almost everyone. This is the only possible way to reach out to as many people as you can.