Web Accessibility Compliance is Smart Business

Businesses in the US that fall under ADA Title I or ADA Title III must have their website offer “reasonable accessibility” to people with disabilities.

Web Accessibility Compliance is ensuring your website has equal access to people with different abilities and limitations.

Web content accessibility concept with wheelchair icon and symbol on a red computer key for blog and online business.
Web Content Accessibility icon

People with physical, situational, and socio-economic disabilities often experience limitations in accessing websites because of conditions like poor lighting, noise, low internet speed, difficulty in hearing, seeing, and navigating the content as freely & easily as other people with no such disabilities. Web Accessibility Compliance aims to remove such barriers and make accessibility the same across people with different abilities.

Regardless of your industry, you are at legal and financial risk if you fail to ensure that your website provides equal access to all visitors. In addition to the threat of costly and time-consuming litigation, an inaccessible website may also negatively impact your brand image, SEO ranking, conversion, and your ability to market to people with disabilities, a significant segment of the population.

WSI and AudioEye

At WSI, we have partnered with AudioEye, an industry-leading digital accessibility software solution provider, in bringing this web accessibility solution to our clients. For details, please download this whitepaper.

This whitepaper:

  • discusses the legal risks,
  • examines the potential responses, and
  • presents a best-practice approach for achieving and maintaining digital accessibility compliance.
  • it shows how to minimize the costs and maximize the benefits of online accessibility, helping organizations like yours cut risk, reduce expenditures, deflect litigation and maintain focus on core business issues

Not having clear regulations that precisely spell out ADA web Compliance may be one of the main issues in enforcing it. Suppose you are a business that falls under ADA Title I or ADA Title III; you are required to have a website that facilitates “reasonable accessibility” to people with disabilities.

Advantages of Web Accessibility Compliance

Upsides to having ADA compliant website

  • it protects your business against lawsuits and fines 
  • improves user engagement
  • more traffic opportunities (opens up traffic for people with disability, increasing exposure by nearly 20%)
  • ADA compliance efforts work very well for your SEO and UI/UX objectives

According to AudioEye, the number of digital accessibility lawsuits filed under ADA Title III in US Federal District Courts jumped from 815 in 2017 to more than 2,200 in 2019. 

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The World Wide Web Consortium (or W3C) is the international standards organization for the World Wide Web. WCAG 2.1 is the most recent Web Content Accessibility Guidelines from W3C. 

WCAG guidelines are technology-independent, objectively testable, and universally applicable standards. The most recent update expands existing coverage of mobile accessibility and adds more provisions in the low vision, cognitive, and learning disabilities area.

The WCAG 2.1 guidelines ensure your web content is:

Perceivable: Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive. Examples include providing text alternatives to audio and audio options that allow sight-impaired individuals to access your website’s content.

Operable: User interface components and navigation must be operable. For example, make all functionality on the site accessible from a keyboard.

Understandable: Information and the operation of the user interface must be understandable. For example, your site content shouldn’t require reading ability more advanced than the lower secondary education level and should be free from idioms and jargon.

Robust: Content must be robust enough to be interpreted by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. For example, the content of your website has the same interpretation across various devices and platforms.

Web Content Accessibility Levels

WCAG Level AAA is the highest level of Web Accessibility Compliance an institution can reach. Level AA is the next best level. A business should strive to achieve at least the AA (target level of accessibility meeting legal requirements) level of web ADA compliance.

Currently, there are no clear rules from the federal government related to web ADA compliance. But being able to meet the above WCAG 2.1 guideline standards for level AA provides operable accessibility of your website to individuals with disabilities (hearing, vision, cognitive, language, etc.). These measures can help you get close to a level of Web ADA Compliance, which can keep you safe from regulators.

Some notable WCAG 2.1 Level AA requirements include:

  • Live videos with captions
  • Access to audio description for video content 
  • Not relying on a screen orientation
  • Common names provided using the HTML autocomplete list 
  • The contrast ratio between text and background of at least 4.5:1 
  • Text can be resized to 200% without loss of content or function
  • No images of text 
  • Responsive website
  • Ensuring that content visible on hover or keyboard focus does not lead to accessibility issues
  • Offer multiple ways to find pages 
  • Clear headings and labels
  • Tell users when the language on a page changes
  • Consistent menus, icons, and buttons
  • Suggest fixes when users make errors
  • Reduce the risk of input errors for sensitive data

Final Takeaways

Nearly one in five people has a disability. So, creating an ADA compliant site makes smart business sense. A well designed ADA compliant site can also lead to more sales and a better ranking (because of improved readability, image tagging/searching, user engagement) on search engines. 

If you are unsure whether your business needs to have a WCAG compatible website, consider consulting with a disability attorney and protecting your business.

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