What is Accessibility?
The overall idea is to allow your website to be as navigatable as possible by those who may be hearing or visually impaired, as well as those that have physical disabilities (maybe they cannot use a mouse, only a keyboard, for example). This way they can understand what's on your site and can also purchase products and/or services.
What is WCAG?
The WCAG is a group of individuals and organizations around the world who come together to discuss and create standards for how to make web content more "accessible" to people with disabilities.
WCAG 2.0 was published in 2008. WCAG 2.1 was published in June of 2018.
Since the federal government has no standards (think ADA requirements for physical stores), the WCAG guidelines are serving as the defacto standard for online content.
Why should I care?
Three main reasons:
- It's good business to provide for those disabled that may want to book or purchase your products as it adds more revenue and better company branding.
- It helps to avoid or limit exposure to lawsuits, both valid and frivolous.
- It's good for SEO as you give search engines more information about elements on your site such as images.
- See this video on how to name your images properly.
Yes! More lawsuits were filed in the first six months of 2018 (1053) than in all of 2017 (814). In fact, businesses located in all but 12 states have fallen victim to website-related lawsuits and threats of suits, paying anywhere from $4,000 to over $90,000 to resolve the claims.
Of course, that amount doesn't cover legal costs.
What should I do about it?
Here are some tips for companies and establishments that have both a physical presence and an online presence:
- Audit your website and specifically look at your online purchasing/reservation services and products as there are Title III ADA regulations addressing this.
- Read up on the WCAG 2.1 AA standard to become familiar with it and know what questions to ask others.
- Consult with your legal and technical teams on best practices for web and mobile app accessibility.
- Develop and implement a web and mobile app accessibility plan.
- Review your vendor contracts and consider adding or supplementing provisions on indemnification and representations and warranties.
What does Pro Website Creators do about it?
Pro Website Creators uses our design experience, outside testing services, and our industry contacts to implement and test against a 50-item checklist that includes things such as:
- WCAG 2.1 Section 1.4.3: Contrast ratio between text and background is at least 4.5:1.
- WCAG 2.1 Section 1.4.4: Text can be resized to 200% without loss of content or function.
- WCAG 2.1 Section 1.4.5: Don’t use images of text.
This checklist must be implemented and tested against all pages of the site, and the design thus may need to change to be compatible.
We also recommend having an accessibility statement on your site as it does three things:
- It presents clear information to those coming to your site on the target level of web accessibility.
- It allows you as the website owner to acknowledge any areas where targets have NOT been met and if there is a plan for resolution.
- It's a declaration of commitment, and those visiting will appreciate this open acknowledgment.
Here's an example:
"[Company] is committed to making its website available to as many people as possible meeting the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act and makes every effort to ensure its communications are accessible to those with special needs, including those with visual, hearing, cognitive and motor impairments.
Many Internet users can find websites difficult to use due to the way they have been designed. We recognize that this is an important issue and endeavor to ensure that the [company.com] website is accessible in accordance with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines.
Our efforts to make this website adhere to WCAG 2.1 (Level AA) conformity guidelines to improve accessibility are ongoing, so if you come across a page you find difficult to use please provide your feedback here."