In recent times there has been a major transformation for companies from conventional stores to online business. The gradual shift accelerated during the current COVID-19 pandemic since customers cannot visit the brick and mortar stores anymore. As the landscape of online business started growing, the need to make websites accessible to everyone became a necessity as well.
Businesses have realized that more than 20% of the American population lives with disabilities, which constitutes a large chunk of the target market. So companies have started making efforts towards understanding web accessibility standards and their guidelines. Businesses have also realized that failure to make their website accessible can result in legal compliance problems, and they may have to face a lawsuit.
There are several aspects of a website that need to work together to ensure that it is accessible to people with disabilities.
Although it is everyone’s responsibility to assist people living with disabilities, some people are responsible for optimizing online businesses. Designers and developers create the elements of the website and are responsible to ensure that they are accessible to people with different forms of disabilities as well as assistive technologies.
As a business owner, you may not be able to control how a person will access your website. Therefore you need to employ solutions that can make your website accessible to a wide array of disabilities. That includes the visually impaired, hard of hearing, cognitive disabilities, restricted movements, temporary disabilities, so on and so forth. Your company can go through an agile transformation to imbibe a culture of accessibility in your organization. You can also assign a core team that is responsible for ensuring that accessibility measures get implemented to the front as well as the back end of your organization.
Before we look into the accessibility standards, let us first understand the laws and guidelines
The federal judges have decided that web accessibility falls under Article III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because a website is the virtual extension of a place of business and must be accessible to everyone. Therefore any online business must be ADA compliant. Section 508 also requires that all digital sites of Federal agencies must get optimized for accessibility, including companies that work with them.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has issued a set of universal rules that form the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. There are three levels of the current WCAG 2.1 guidelines: A, AA, and AAA. Websites must achieve WCAG 2.1 AA guidelines to be ADA compliant.
If you feel that it is a long list, remember that it is for your benefit as well. You can save yourself from an expensive lawsuit, increase your business, and make it more user friendly by making it accessible. These are some of the methods that must be a part of your checklist.
As you can see, it is not an overwhelming list. Achieving maximum accessibility standards is not as difficult as it was in the earlier days. You can use an AI-powered compliance software to optimize your site without making too many changes to the source code. It is an effective and cost-efficient way of making your website accessible to your customers with disabilities.