Website compliance. What is it and why does it matter? If you’re able-bodied, enjoy 20-20 vision and have great hearing, then accessibility is mostly not a concern for you. That’s completely not the case for people with vision difficulties, those that use a hearing aid and still struggle to catch every word or have other challenges when using the web.
Appreciating all the aspects surrounding having a compliant website is tough. You may catch a few of them because they’re obvious to you, but it’s unlikely that you’ll think of them all. That’s reasonable though, because they just won’t be obvious to someone who doesn’t have the same difficulties in life.
Here are a few pointers to get you started on website compliance.
The Human Factor
If you wanted to visit a site but were prevented from doing so, you’d find it annoying. Even hurtful to some extent. From a humanness and openness perspective, we should want everyone to enjoy the same opportunities. While we know that’s not a universal truth, endeavoring to provide that on the web is especially important. It allows everyone to enjoy the same level of access without restrictions. It’s fairer too. Billions of people already use the web, so making it accessible to everyone is the right thing to do. It’s the human thing to do too.
The Legal Factor
The Americans with Disabilities Act aimed to allow anyone who’s disabled in some way to get reasonable access to the same facilities or services. An increasing number of lawsuits are being filed each year when companies fail to offer accessible websites for disabled people. While the objective with website accessibility is to make government websites and those for companies with 15+ employees accessible for people with access issues or disabilities, companies run ‘for the public’s benefit’ should ensure their website is compliant too.
Interpreting whether a company offers something to the public’s benefit is highly debatable. Therefore, it’s best to make your site accessible to avoid even the possibility of an expensive lawsuit. It would also be bad for business on the PR front.
The Good-for-Business Factor
From an operational standpoint, greater accessibility is good for business. Sales are lost when fewer customers or potential customers can use your website. For financially motivated companies, that should be incentive enough. Also, from a brand reputation standpoint, it’s risky to have a site that’s inaccessible for some people who could complain publicly on Twitter or Facebook, etc. The brand’s reputational damage forcing the company to make changes would be costly.
How Can Websites Be Improved for Accessibility?
Web studios are primed to take existing sites and modify them to ensure they meet applicable accessibility standards. Depending on the size of the site, this could be quite costly and require considerable lead time. Another option is to use a plugin designed to highlight features to be fixed. A service like accessiBe can do that for you. Their plugin also adds accessibility features on the fly for visitors with disabilities, which is even better.
Also, you can try to do it yourself. However, the risk is that you’ll fix some things, miss others, and make other parts of the site even worse for accessibility. At the very least, scanning the site for accessibility problems after making changes is necessary at a minimum.
Checking whether your website is compliant and moving forward to fix it up is a solid move. It avoids being forced to do it later due to a lawsuit or someone with disabilities complaining publicly.