Website Accessibility - and why you need to consider it!
While I have always been aware of it, and worked to make sites compliant, our client DRCVI.org needed us to step up to ensure we had them properly covered. That was when we learned about the serious implications of not being compliant, and how helping our client be successful, was also putting a target on their backs for non-compliance ambulance chasers. As with most governmental regulations, it can get quite deep, but let me try to summarize the issue for you on what it really is and why it is important for you to consider for your business.
WCAG stands for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. They are the most important guidelines for web accessibility policy and set the standard for web accessibility legislation in most countries around the world. They are created by the World Wide Web Consortium, known as the W3C and were most recently updated in 2018. The guidelines cover 4 basic principles for websites to ensure they are accessible to those with disabilities.
4 basic principles of WCAG 2.0 compliance:
- Perceivable - this refers to the ways that users perceive content online through their senses of sight, sound, and touch. This includes issues like captions for videos, text that can be adjusted for contrast, color, text size and spacing, font, and similar factors that make it easier to read.
- Operable - operability means the ways that someone can use the site. It’s particularly relevant to people with motor disabilities, weak muscles, injured limbs, etc. An operable site needs to be navigable entirely by keyboard, sight-assisted navigation, and other alternatives to a classic mouse.
- Understandable - understandable sites are easy for everyone to understand. They don’t use a lot of technical terms or complex jargon, don’t have complicated instructions that are difficult to follow, and have consistent directions won’t confuse readers.
Robust - there are two factors for a robust site:
- Using clean HTML and CSS code that meets recognized standards
- Being compatible with assistive tools that people with disabilities use to browse online
So what are the implications if your website is not compliant?
There are a couple of scenarios you need to consider. If you are simply reported and then audited, you could face civil fines. When a business is found to be breaking ADA accessibility rules, they can expect to pay $55,000 to $75,000. Repeated missteps incur higher fines of about $150,000.
You also may face a law suit which would result in you needing to pay lawyer fees, possible fines, as well as cost to get your site compliant. Digital ambulance chasers have gone after big businesses based around non-compliance. Especially after precedents have already been set.
For example, in a class-action lawsuit against Target in 2008, they eventually settled and paid over $6 million in damages. Along with this charge, they also paid nearly $4 million for the cost of the plaintiff’s attorneys. From 2017 to 2018 for example, Accessibility lawsuits jumped dramatically from 814 lawsuits to 2258.
Now thankfully, in the world of technology, tools have been introduced to help meet the standards established and with a quality developer handling the basics on code, the rest of the compliance can be easily managed. Even if we didn't develop your site, we can use the AI engine to scan your site for compliance and highlight any issues.
After completion, we can provide you an Accessibility statement and certification of performance in regards to WCAG 2.1 & ADA Compliance. We will also run monthly audits and reporting to catch any changes made in order to maintain compliance. Sites built on our tools, have logic for basic code structure built in to help maintain compliance through editing and content creation.
To get a quick look at the tools provided, Check out the Accessibility icon on the lower left of any page on this site, to see the tools and options we make available to all users.
If you would like to discuss getting us to help you with your site's accessibility, even if we didn't build your site, simply drop us a line on our contact us form and we will reach out to you to get started.
For prices start at $500 year, we can help you get your WCAG 2.1 & ADA compliance and maintain it providing you peace of mind and security. For your customers as well, they will know you care enough to provide the tools needed for them to engage with your business online.