Website compliance relates to the need for website owners to allow all users, including those with different disabilities, to be able to access the website. While there have been efforts by the W3C to develop standards that have helped to ensure different web browsers are more compatible with one another, efforts like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) go further still. Website compliance is necessary and important. In this article, we cover why that is and how you can help.
Why is Website Accessibility So Important?
Step outside the digital realm for a second. Imagine a real-life situation where someone in a wheelchair is unable to get into a retail store because there’s no ramp, or the front door isn’t wide enough to allow their entry. Furthermore, the aisles inside aren’t wide enough to accommodate their wheelchair either. So, they’re excluded from giving the store their business.
The lack of accessibility for them can be constructed as discriminatory based on their disability causing them to be excluded. Put another way, by the store owner not ensuring everyone can get inside and happily go shopping, they’re impinging on the rights of disabled people. And by the same logic, the same can be true of websites too.
What’s Involved with Accessible Websites?
Websites need to be accessible for all users. When it comes to people with different types of restrictions, constraints, or disabilities, it’s not as open as it could be. For instance, some users need a high contrast view using fewer highly differentiating colors on the display to read it. Others find the brightness or flashing imagery problematic. They must necessarily use a screen reader that literally reads what’s on the screen, including not just the written copy, but any description of what images show that they cannot see.
Meeting Compliance Standards
Various compliance standards and some laws in various countries are beginning to apply. In the US, the ADA is relevant to encourage website access for people with disabilities. However, WCAG 2.1 goes beyond that to lay out what is required for true compliance for website usability. The WCAG standard relates to what can be observed, how it can be used, and what can be understood. The website’s computer code should also meet relevant design standards, so web browsers can consistently apply it. It certainly can be used as a guide for people new to accessibility requirements too.
The Legal Risk
Website compliance is also required to avoid being sued for providing a website that prevents people with certain disabilities from effectively using it. There have already been over a thousand lawsuits initiated on this basis. Therefore, it’s incumbent on website owners to ensure their site meets an acceptable, established standard to avoid getting targeted.
Fortunately, some things can be done. A useability specialist can be hired, but they’re quite expensive. There is also the option of installing the accessiBe plugin and using the accessiBe premium service to make the site compliant. The plugin uses AI to ensure any updates to the relevant accessibility laws or standards are highlighted to make further changes later on.
Website compliance is as much a human issue as it is a legal one. Everyone should be able to use the internet, access websites, and avail themselves of the world wide web. No one should be left behind. So, companies and site owners must see accessibility as just as important to them as providing a safe work environment or another hot-button issue right now. It’s a people thing.