Back in 2018, I wrote “Having a website that is accessible to all people just makes sense.” Of course, this still holds true today. By not providing an accessible website, you are making your website hard to use for a significant percentage of your audience. You may also be at risk of a lawsuit. The average cost of a lawsuit about accessibility issues was estimated to be $25,000. A significant number of website users have a disability that can make it harder for them to navigate your website. Disabilities include blindness, low vision, deafness, and more. Many businesses are considered to be a “place of public accommodation” and are required to provide equal access to services under the nondiscrimination requirements of Title III of ADA including:
- Real Estate
- Entertainment Venues like Movie Theaters
- Law and Accounting Firms
- Businesses that are Not Private Clubs, Including Web-Only Businesses
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) created by the World Wide Web Consortium in partnership with various other groups are the standards by which to evaluate your website. WCAG 2.1 AA is the current standard, although work on 2.1 is underway. Review this guideline to determine what needs to change on your website to make it more accessible. When you strive to meet Section 508 standards on your site you also get a site which is more friendly for search engines to read and interpret.
Common Issues with Website Access – Section 508
- Images Don’t Offer Text Equivalents
Fix by adding a text description to every image using the img “alt” tag.
- Documents aren’t Available in Accessible Formats
Fix by offering documents in Adobe PDF format that are screen reader compliant and in text format. Avoid using documents that have been scanned as they can’t easily be read by text readers.
- Not Allowing Viewers to Specify Colors and Font Sizes
Fix this by allowing your font size and color to be adjusted within a user’s browser. You should use universal fonts when possible.
- Videos and Other Multimedia Lack Accessible Features
Fix by adding detailed descriptions of all non-text resources on your websites. Add closed captions to your videos and when possible full transcriptions.
- Forms and Site Navigation are Hard or Impossible for Impaired Users to Navigate
Fix by making each form field accessible by labeling each website element with a descriptive HTML tag. If the link is image based, be sure to describe it using the title=”description” variable on the anchor tag.
- Not Offering Alternatives to Essential Web-based Information
Fix by clearly offering contact details for your website visitors can so your users can get access to all essential information.
Test Your Website for ADA Compliance
There are three levels of WCAG 2.1 Compliance from A, AA to the most stringent – AAA. Most websites can achieve AA compliance by fixing issues. AAA is much harder to achieve and may not be necessary depending on your business type. Try the Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool or Wave browser extension to highlight issues on your site. You may be a little overwhelmed by all the issues marked on your site. Aim to fix issues marked with red or yellow flags as these are the most important for accessibility. In conclusion, now is a great time to begin making improvements to your website and make it more accessible for all visitors.
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