Website Accessibility Requirements Explained
The world around us has gone digital. Web accessibility is not just an ethical issue but a legal requirement. New regulations are consistently coming out to ensure accessibility and inclusion. The legislation was implemented to ensure the internet is more inclusive, regardless of ability.
Domino’s Pizza famously made headlines in 2019 when the company was sued by Guillermo Robles, a blind man who took legal action over Domino’s mobile app’s accessibility. The case went to the Supreme Court, where the court ruled in favor of Robles.
What is Web Accessibility?Website accessibility is the practice of ensuring your website is usable for all its visitors, including users with impairments, disabilities, and limitations. It involves using deliberate design principles to ensure people with limitations or difficulties have a seamless experience accessing your website content.
Web accessibility is based on four pillars; the site must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.
The Four Pillars of Web Accessibility
PerceivableAll visitors must be able to perceive the content of your website. The term “perceive” means not just with one’s eyes. Even blind users or those with low vision should be able to access the content on your website.
OperableOperability has to do with functionality and how easy it is for a user to navigate your site. Every site visitor should be able to use your website without being disrupted. A simple layout is a great way to make your site operable.
UnderstandableEvery aspect of your website content, from written language to graphic design, should be understandable to all site visitors. There shouldn’t be any high-level, technical language that could exclude people with cognitive difficulties and other impairments.
RobustYour site content should be consumable by all your visitors. This means even visitors using assistive technology should have access to the content. Your site’s HTML should be written in a way that assistive technologies can parse the code.
ADA Compliance Requirements for BusinessesIn 2021, the Department of Justice clarified that under the law, websites are considered places of public accommodation. This means all websites must comply with the ADA Title III requirement that all goods, services, activities, and privileges provided by a place of accommodation be equally accessible to people with disabilities.
According to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, any technology used by a federal department or agency must be accessible to people with disabilities.
In addition to legislation, several other resources have emerged to help businesses make their websites accessible. One of these resources is the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).
What is WCAG?The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is a reference point that organizations use to improve their digital accessibility and comply with ADA requirements. The ADA doesn’t provide set guidelines for website compliance, so WCAG is a helpful resource.
The WCAG provides several specific guidelines for the four principles of accessibility that businesses can use to stay compliant.
Consequences of Failing to ComplyUnder Federal law, you can be fined up to $75,000 for the first ADA violation and $150,000 for additional violations. Some states and local governments may allow additional fines.
Side Benefits of ComplyingWhile complying with ADA web regulations will prevent your business from paying fees, compliance has other benefits. Some of these ADA web compliances benefits include:
Better SEOSite accessibility improves your overall site score, which enhances your site ranking on search engines and helps drive traffic to your website.
Extended Market ReachPeople with disabilities also have purchasing ability, and ensuring your website is accessible gives you a competitive advantage.
What’s Next?Technology is continuously advancing, so regulations are regularly updated to reflect the changes. Today, states are creating their own specific requirements to ensure inclusivity for everyone.
Meeting ADA RequirementsFailing to comply with ADA web accessibility requirements will land your business in hot water, costing you time and money. With technology and regulations constantly updating, it’s important to stay diligent to ensure your website remains compliant.