Whether a small mom and pop shop or a large organization, the process of building a website has its ups and downs. Throughout the development, the designer usually has a large checklist to focus on including the look and feel, customer experience, ease of use, search engine optimization and more. However, there is one critical element that most people overlook when designing their sites – Website Accessibility. Just as ATMs, businesses, restaurants and elevators must be ADA accessible, so too does your website. A non-accessible website is problematic for numerous reasons including lost sales and possible lawsuits. When faced with that statistics regarding the ramifications of a non-accessible websites, organizations are beginning to pay a little more attention to this typically forgotten area of website design.
Why is Website Accessibility important?
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were published in 2008, and later updated in 2018 with the purpose of making content more accessible to people with disabilities. These guidelines were developed to meet the needs of individuals, organizations and governments with a goal of providing a single shared standard for the accessibility of web content. WCAG defines “web content” as information such as texts, images and/or sounds on a page or application. In an effort to meet WCAG, organizations must provide text alternatives such as large print, braille, speech etc. as well as provide alternatives for time-based media such as prerecorded captions, audio descriptions, sign language and more. Content must be distinguishable, adaptable, navigable and keyboard accessible to people with disabilities without losing information or structure.
Meeting the standards of Website Accessibility
When an organization falls short on website accessibility, it not only takes money out of their pocket, it also hurts their credibility. Individuals with disabilities make up 10% of online spending. Regardless of the SEO and design work you put in, a non-accessible site means a potential loss of sales and almost guarantees your competitors will be receiving a website visit. Additionally, we are starting to see an uptick in lawsuits against sites that are failing to provide access to people with visual impairments. This is increasingly occurring with celebrity-backed sites.
So, what can you do to meet the standards? First, you must put in the work to become compliant. You must stay up-to-date on recent compliance standards at both the state and federal level, and then apply the necessary changes to your website. Secondly, you must constantly audit your site and its code. There are tools available that will crawl your site and identify any problem areas that fall short. The results will give you a clear understanding of what changes are mission critical while giving you an idea of the scope and budget of the task at hand. Lastly, if you are unsure of the steps you need to take, contact Colony West for a comprehensive overview of the pros and cons of taking on such a project. We’ll discuss all compliance standards with you to help make the smartest decision for your business. Contact one of our experts today!