According to the World Bank, one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability. In the U.S. alone, the CDC estimates approximately 12 million people 40 years and older have vision impairment. How people with disabilities interact with your online presence should not be overlooked. If your website/application isn’t accessible, your business can be missing out on opportunities and revenue – and risking lawsuits.
Americans with Disability Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against employees (and job applicants) who have physical or mental impairments that substantially limit “major life activities.” These activities include walking, sitting, reading, seeing and communicating.
Leaders are required to ensure that their companies comply with the act or face legal action. The Department of Justice has affirmed that websites are places of public accommodation, and therefore, fall under the ADA. To be compliant, websites must not have barriers that make it difficult or impossible to be used by people with disabilities. In 2019, more than 11,000 lawsuits were filed in federal court regarding website accessibility.
What are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines?
The well-accepted measurement of website accessibility is a technical standard set by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
WCAG is a specific and technical framework, with documentation that identifies ways to ensure web content is perceivable, operable, understandable and robust (POUR). These standards identify actual barriers people may face due to visual, auditory, cognitive, learning, neurological, physical and speech disabilities. The framework provides guidelines to ensure tools, such as screen readers, work with your website/application.
Consult an Expert
There are numerous tools and services, such as AChecker and WAVE, to help you determine if your web content meets accessibility guidelines.
You can also find multiple tips for developing compliant interactions and content – providing full text for audio, not using color alone to communicate, tagging images with text equivalents – but the best tip to ensure your web application is compliant is to consult an accessibility expert. The opportunities are too great, and the risks too high, to not seek the guidance of a professional.
Your online presence allows you to reach your current and potential customers around the clock and around the world. For practical, financial, and legal reasons, it only makes good business sense to ensure that visitors of all abilities can experience your website/application fully.