Web Accessibility Compliance - A Look at Staying on the Safe Side
According to the Cambridge Dictionary ‘accessibility’ is “the quality of being able to be entered or used by everyone, including people who have a disability” or “the quality of being easy to understand or enjoy” which entails the attributes of inclusion and adaptability, regardless of what we are referring to when we speak of accessibility.
In the ever expanding world of technology this concept has taken a lead position in the development of websites and web tools that are now designed from the start or updated to take into account disability as one of the determining factors for their functionality and even compliance. Accessibility regulations such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Rehabilitation Act have radically changed the way businesses or government entities interact with the general public. With the evolution of the web, these regulations were expanded to include web accessibility, or eAccessibility as it is also known. This meant that businesses and government entities now had, for example, in the USA, regulations such as ADA Title III or Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act to comply with when designing and making use of technology. Both of these, as well as other regulations around the world control the way individuals with disabilities, be they physical or situational, as well as those struggling with socio-economic barriers to speed and bandwidth, interact with those technologies. In order to be compliant with these, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published the WCAG Standard (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines)., which is a set of guidelines that ensures that both websites and digital content are accessible to people with disabilities.
According to a statistic by the CDC, up to 1 in 4 adults in the USA has some type of disability, meaning about 26% of the population. Looking at types of functional disability, the CDC offers the following:
- “11.1 percent of U.S. adults have a mobility disability with serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs.
- 10.9 percent of U.S. adults have a cognitive disability with serious difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
- 6.4 percent of U.S. adults have an independent living disability with difficulty doing errands alone.
- 5.7 percent of U.S. adults are deaf or have serious difficulty hearing.
- 4.9 percent of U.S. adults have a vision disability with blindness or serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses.
- 3.0 percent of U.S. adults have a self-care disability with difficulty dressing or bathing.”
What these figures show is that creating a space where any one individual in the above percentages has easy access to resources and technologies, is crucial. In layman’s terms, web accessibility means that it is not sufficient to place a ramp near the entrance to your office, you must also ensure that the ramp is fixed into place, it is wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, and that the door to the building itself is not too narrow. Applying this analogy to a website, it means that individuals at risk of seizures, who have visual or hearing impairments, or who struggle with ADHD, dyslexia, or cognitive disorders, must also be able to access your content without differentiating between them and those without any disabilities.
A website that is properly designed will have alt texts for images and meaningful names for links, which will allow for text-to-speech software or text-to-Braille types of hardware to convert the content to be relevant to website visitors that are visually impaired or altogether blind. The same way, if a user is able to enlarge texts or images, underline links, highlight headings, or change the chromatic outlook of the page, they will have a positive experience while on your website which can result in a positive customer experience and an increase of revenue for your business. A user that is prone to seizures will be able to safely browse your website with a seizure safe option built into it and those dealing with dyslexia, ADHD, or cognitive impairments will have no trouble navigating through the website if the content is written in plain language, it includes diagrams and/or animations, the font can be changed to one that is dyslexia friendly and users can make use of a focus bar, a wide range of disabilities gets covered in an instant.
Today a wide variety of accessibility features exists that one can find built into compliant websites. These features create access for users with a wide range of disabilities and they are constantly being expanded, the same way that the meaning of disability is. As can be seen across accessibility regulations currently enforced, disabilities range from permanent, to temporary, or even situational ones.
One example of situational disability can be when your website visitor finds themselves in a situation where both their hands are occupied with, for example, grocery bags, and they are trying to also browse through your website.
Despite all of the above, businesses have been slow to implement accessibility into their websites which has led to countless lawsuits being filed against them. It is estimated that in 2022 about 2387 website accessibility lawsuits were filed against businesses with an expected increase of 200% in 2023, due to the fact that more and more individuals have been made aware of their right to accessibility and have begun filing lawsuits against businesses that are in non-compliance. According to a recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) states across America have had record numbers of lawsuits filed, with California leading the way with around 6000 lawsuits, New York running in second with about 2800 cases, and Florida third with more than 1000.
To avoid such a lawsuit being filed against your business, as well as the hefty fines that come along with each one of these lawsuits, there are some characteristics that you need to include that have individuals with disabilities in mind, such as, but not limited to:
- Proper color contrast;
- The presence of alt-text on images;
- The presence of captions on videos;
- Accessibility profiles that address different types of disabilities;
- Adjustments that allow your users to customize their interaction with your website, based on their individual needs.
How can Clym help?
Clym believes in striking a balance between digital compliance and your business needs, which is why we offer businesses the following:
- All-in-one platform: One interface combining Privacy and Accessibility compliance with global regulations, at an affordable price;
- Seamless integration into your website;
- Adaptability to your users’ location and applicable regulation;
- Customizable branding;
- Ready Compliance: Covering 30+ data privacy regulations;
- Six preconfigured accessibility profiles, as well as 25+ display adjustments that allow visitors to customise their individual experience.