Advantages to Being Accessible for Disabled People
What do 50 U.S. colleges, a Florida shoe store and Beyoncé all have in common? They have all been sued for having websites that violate the Americans With Disabilities Act (1990). While these types of lawsuits are on the rise, it’s just one reason a business needs to make its company website more accessible for disabled people.
Reason 1: Lawsuits
Courts recognize web accessibility standards called Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, which was created by an international consortium of volunteers.
Over the last few years, there has been a tremendous increase in litigation brought under Title III of the ADA of 1990. In 2018, there were 2,285 ADA website lawsuits filed in federal courts across the nation, an increase of 181% from just a year before.
The Act prohibits discrimination based on disability. Providing accessibility is not just about physical access, such as adding a ramp where steps exist. Accessibility is much more, and it requires looking at how content, services, and activities are delivered.
While there is currently a clause that allows existing website content to remain as it is, unless altered after January 18, 2018, the guidelines pertain to any web page that has been updated after that date. Thus, for businesses that wish to avoid lawsuits for being non-compliant (and the legal fees that go with them), it’s a good idea to make the investment in updating websites now.
Reason 2: Improved SEO
Search engines are ever-evolving and now crawl pages with more human intention; they have the end-user in mind and look not just for a boatload of keywords, but usable content. Screen reader tools that provide audio translation and captions also use this technique to crawl website pages. If a company website meets the WCAG, it will likely appeal to search engines as well, ultimately helping improve SEO efforts overall.
Reason 3: Expand your target audience
Even though the ADA has been the law for almost 30 years, many companies don’t take into consideration users who may have a disability as they create personas, identify target audiences and design websites. While there are nearly 50 million people with disabilities in the U.S. alone, Rachel Olivero, the director of technology at the National Federation of the Blind notes, “Accessibility is still a sidebar when it comes to web development.”
Thus, companies without an ADA compliant website are missing out on millions of potential customers who may very well be interested in your products or services but are unable to navigate the website or contact you. When this happens, they instead move on to competitors who provide such web access.
Ensure your website is fully accessible and consider consumers who may have difficulty seeing, hearing or using a mouse.
Reason 4: Better website usability
Effective website design offers optimum user experience and interface. While working to meet WCAG guidelines makes a company ADA compliant, it also makes the website more navigable for all consumers. When your company’s website is easier to use and understand, you’re more likely to attract more users and convert them into customers because they will know they can always find the content they are seeking.
Reason 5: Improved reputation
Having an easy-to-use website that attracts more users is one thing, but when these users know you are being ADA compliant, they understand they are valued by your company. For consumers that bounce from one site to another because your competition is not ADA compliant, imagine how thrilled they will be with your business when your website fulfills their needs.
When you provide what they are seeking, you develop trust and loyalty. Additionally, these new customers tell their others about your website and they can become influencers.
Companies that recognize their competitors aren’t yet ADA compliant can break away from the pack and set themselves apart by delivering to a segment of the population that has been underserved.
While there are no clear regulations pertaining to websites in the ADA, the WCAG are the reference point for court decisions and companies taking steps to make website improvements.
Some of these requirements include:
- Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
- The visual presentation of text and images of text has a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1.
- Text can be resized without assistive technology up to 200 percent without loss of content or functionality.
- Content must be coded for audio translation by screen-reader software.
- There must be on-screen captions in videos for screen-reader software to read to the blind and descriptions for the deaf.
- Sites must include accessible drop-down menus for those who use a keyboard as an alternative to a mouse.
- Color is not used as the only visual means of conveying information, indicating an action, prompting a response, or distinguishing a visual element.
Investing in updates to accommodate those with disabilities isn’t just the right thing to do and a “nice to have” accessory, it’s a legal requirement. Businesses most targeted by litigation include: travel/hospitality; retail; banking/financial services; food service; entertainment and leisure.
Making your company website ADA compliant may seem complex and overwhelming. If you don’t know where to start, contact us. Let T.E. Digital help you navigate what is necessary to get you there and save you the stress and expense of a possible lawsuit.