One of our favorite parts about our #NerdU sessions is getting to know what makes our co-workers "Nerd Out". Donnie Maness recently joined our Development team and is leading the charge in extending our ADA Compliance services.
At this month’s #NerdU meeting, Donnie gave the team a rundown on what accessibility truly means and why it’s important for businesses small and large to comply with standards.
Defining Accessibility for the Web
Many of us are familiar with ADA requirements for brick and mortar companies, but what does that look like for online businesses or websites? Put simply, web accessibility means making websites accessible to people with disabilities. Web accessibility can impact individuals with sensory impairment, limited motor skills, or cognitive disabilities.
Here are a few problems individuals with disabilities can face when surfing the web:
- Trouble reading content or viewing contextual images
- Inability to hear sound on a video
- Difficulty navigating with a mouse
World Wide Web Consortium provides deeper context to web accessibility with the Web Accessibility Guidelines. These guidelines serve as a roadmap for ADA compliance on the web at varying degrees.
Why is Web Accessibility Important?
While making your website ADA compliant can be time consuming and complex, it’s still important.
First, it’s ethical. The world wide web is a commodity that, in theory, is accessible to everyone. Websites should work for all individuals, at every level of accessibility.
Second, accessibility is good for business. Did you know that 20% of individuals are classified as having some sort of disability, whether temporary or permanent? Although not all disabilities affect a person’s ability to use a website, a significant portion do. If your website isn’t fully accessible, you’re potentially missing out on connecting with a large portion of your customer base.
Finally, accessibility is simply a legal requirement. ADA Title III “prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities and places of public accommodation.” In 2017, a federal court ruled that websites are considered a place of public accommodation. After this ruling, there was a 117% increase in lawsuits regarding ADA Compliance in 2018 –impacting brands like Nike, Amazon, and Burger King.
In summary, website accessibility is becoming a non-negotiable standard in the world of web development. Realizing the need to improve your website’s accessibility is just the first step. Stay tuned for more on simple steps you can take towards meeting WCAG’s 2.1 AA Accessibility Standards.