How to Avoid Website Accessibility Lawsuits

frustrated man at the computer rubbing his eyes

Have you noticed an upswing in people talking about web accessibility? Or have you heard about any of the recent lawsuits against some major companies like Target and Netflix? We’ve been hearing the term ‘accessibility’ thrown around quite a lot recently, and in many cases, people have no idea what it means, especially in regards to the Internet! But don’t worry, we’re here to answer all of your questions!

Accessibility is the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. This means that business owners need to be aware of the steps needed to ensure their company is inclusive to individuals with disabilities. More specifically, the term ‘ADA accessibility’ alludes to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life. This refers to jobs, schools, transportation, and all places open to the general public.

 

Who does this effect?

  • Americans with disabilities
  • Employers with 15 or more employees
  • Colleges and universities
  • Online retailers
  • State and local government agencies
  • Businesses operating to benefit the public
  • And the list goes on!

 

What standard practices should companies be following?

In 2010, the US Department of Justice published the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design as a set of standards in which all electronic information must be accessible to people with disabilities. These standards apply to commercial and public entities that have “places of public accommodation” (including the internet!). The Department of Justice is currently working on providing specific guidance to the entities covered by the ADA, but in the meantime, it’s recommended that businesses and organizations use the WCAG 2.0 level AA guidelines to self-regulate accessibility standards. No matter what guidelines you use, your site needs to be accessible to individuals with disabilities.

What is WCAG 2.0?

WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and refers to a set of tips created by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to maintain international standards for accessibility on the internet.  While there were earlier versions of the guide, WCAG 2.0 was published in December 2008 and quickly became the standard for the Web Accessibility Initiative. While techniques are periodically updated in this guide, the principles, guidelines and success criteria will never change.

Find the WCAG guide here

How do you know if your website is ADA accessible?

On the W3C website, you can find a list of tools to be used to evaluate your website. 

Here at Marketing Tech, we like to use a mix of tools to scan websites for accessibility. One of the most common tools is the Wave Web Accessibility Tool (which is FREE to use!). You simply enter your desired URL and your results will populate almost immediately! The tool scans for document language, missing links and tags, structural issues, HTML errors and much more. Check it out for yourself here

BONUS!

CLICK HERE for a FREE site audit!

What steps can you take to make your site ADA compliant?

  • Run various scanshere’s that list of tools the W3C provides!
  • Make any simple changes you can like updating your images or adding alt text.
  • Ensure the typefaces on your site are readable.
  • Make sure your site features are logical. Simply put, there should be a clear user path so your site can be easily navigated by someone who may need a screen reader.
  • Use standard HTML tags and provide documents and PDFs in a text-based format. (Thankfully WordPress does this automatically!)
  • Keep in mind that complex images can’t be understood by screen readers.
  • Refer to this checklist

Marketing Tech is your source of all things ADA accessibility! If you’re interested in learning more about website accessibility and how we can help get your site digestible to individuals with visual impairments, fill out the form below and we will get in contact with you soon!

And if you want to read a little more about accessibility, check out our blog post on Universal Design and Accessibility.

Online resources:

https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/

https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG21/quickref/?versions=2.0

https://www.w3.org/WAI/fundamentals/components/

https://www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/

https://www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/intro.html#introduction-fourprincs-head

https://www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/conformance.html#uc-levels-head

https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20-TECHS/https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/mobile/https://www.ada.gov/

https://www.ada.gov/websites2.htm

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