Definition: “the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities. When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users have equal access to information and functionality.”
Hence… the accessibility imperative.
A few months ago, I wrote a blog post for my client, Stasis Services (the owner has recently closed his business after many years) after making several major best-practices improvements on their website as adopted here at Creative by Clark. In addition to migrating to full SSL encryption, the site was accessible to WCAG-2-AA compliance.
In addition to doing what is “right” in addressing the accessibility imperative, not adopting this best practice could result in a website’s violation of the ADA (Americans with Disability Act).
On June 13, 2017, U.S. District Judge Robert Scola of Florida ruled in favor of Mr. Gil in the case Juan Carlos Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. (case no. 16-23020). It was determined that the Winn-Dixie grocery chain was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The interesting thing about this case is that it had absolutely nothing to do with their physical stores. On the contrary, the issue was with their website, which prevented Mr. Gil “the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations” that in-store shoppers received. Mr. Gil is legally blind and also has cerebral palsy, and so he relies on screen readers in order to shop online.”
Source: WPMU Dev – https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/website-accessibility-ada/
The source article above details the problems cited on the Winn-Dixie website, and as opined by WPMU Dev, this case will set a precedent and should be a major wake-up call for all businesses and organizations to adopt accessibility standards.
It’s not easy or inexpensive to move a non-compliant website to accessibility compliance. However, consider the costs of ignoring this important mandate. Not only is there a possibility for an enormous legal expense, but also increases the potential for damage to a brand and public image.
Having gone through this process for a few clients and my own website, I especially like the WPMU Dev’s 12 Tips to Making Your Website Accessible in the article above:
- Use text alternatives and descriptions for images, video, and other media.
- Used closed captioning for video.
- Make your site keyboard-friendly so a mouse or finger is not required to move around it.
- Simplify the navigation. You may also want to think about adding breadcrumbs.
- Create a consistent layout.
- Design with sharp color contrasts between the text and background.
- Use symbols to clarify the purpose of key elements of color blindness that prevent color from being perceived in the same manner as those without visual impairments
- signals from directing users to where you want them to go.
- Use header tags for a clearer organization of the text.
- Use clear labels for all form fields.
- Include text resizing capabilities.
- Enable voice search.
AChecker is amongst several free and premium tools that can be employed to test one’s website for accessibility compliance. Upon successful testing, it is possible to paste the above badge on a website as prominently as desired. Again, there are numerous levels of Accessibility compliance. For small businesses, meeting WCAG 2-AA is a terrific goal and accomplishment.