Is your website ADA compliant? The importance of accessible digital platforms

Is your website ADA compliant? The importance of accessible digital platforms

After a long day, you consider dinner options. Pizza sounds delicious, and one of your favorite restaurants has special deals if you order through the app. You discover missing information after swiping through the menu. You pull up the restaurant on your laptop and also notice holes in information on the site. Because of the content, you see on the app and website, you know you cannot access key information needed to place an order. Hungry, you call the restaurant. You explain that the app and website are not fully accessible. You’re firmly told sorry, but if not ordering through the app or website, you cannot apply those special offers.

Hundreds of blind and visually impaired people across the country routinely face this scenario. This is exactly what happened to Guillermo Robles in 2016. Robles, who is visually impaired, missed out on pizza specials specific to the Domino’s platforms because they were not compatible with screen-reading software. So he filed a lawsuit.

Businesses worry about the expense and time in ensuring accessibility. Richard Supple wrote in Slate (2019), “If companies and other organizations are not required to make their apps and websites accessible, people like me could not access our bank accounts, look up or pay our utility bills or buy household essentials from Amazon or other retailers.” A Law360 (2019) article states that more and more companies are battling accessibility lawsuits–“Now is the time for companies to review their apps’ mobility compliance with the ADA and to develop a remediation plan that will limit exposure to these lawsuits.”

According to an article by C. P. Hoffman (2018), more than 470 digital accessibility lawsuits were filed between July and September of 2018, equaling 58 percent of lawsuits filed in 2017.

September of 2018 saw nearly four lawsuits filed a day revolving around accessibility issues. The top three targeted markets were hotels, retail/consumer products and restaurants/food manufacturing, making up 72 percent of September lawsuits, according to Hoffman.

In 2019, ADA-related cases were still on the rise. According to UsableNet (2019), an ADA lawsuit was filed every working hour, equaling eight a day, 40 a week. A large percentage of suits were brought against companies that had previously been filed against. 

These numbers demonstrate that disabled people want and do participate in society. They bank online, reserve a hotel, purchase clothing, sign up for a gym and order a pizza. This requires businesses to comply with ADA standards and consider accessibility when building websites and apps.

This may seem overwhelming. Even with an in-house IT team, how do you ensure ADA and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) compliance? Whether in the process of developing a business or maintaining an established company, there are steps to ensure web and digital accessibility. Outlook Business Solutions knows from experience that when accessibility for all is included, everyone benefits.

Expectations with collaborators should be set up-front, which includes graphic designers, content managers and writers. This keeps everyone on the same page when creating accessible websites. Some key accessibility concerns to work on include:

  1. Insist on alt-descriptions for images, which is the text within the html code so that screenreaders can describe the image.
  2. Ensure that captions and transcripts are included with videos.
  3. Ensure that the text is legible.
  4. Ensure that color is not the only way to convey important information.
  5. Developers should code in an accessible way such as unique labels for form elements.

An article published by Amherst College provides some guidelines specific to making websites and apps accessible for screen-readers:

  • Avoid “click here” links and vague link names.
  • Reduce cluttered pages.
  • Use headings.
  • Keep formatting simple.
  • Use tables selectively.
  • Include descriptive alt-text for graphics including photos and icons.

The digital world is moving toward a standard of full accessibility for websites and platforms. Be a leader in your community and your industry by ensuring your company adopts the best accessibility practices. This also paves the way for you to reap the added benefits of an expanded market and reduced legal risk.

Outlook Business Solutions provides website and app testing to help your company ensure accessibility. Skilled technicians will test various aspects of your online/digital platforms and suggest ways to ensure your content meets with ADA and WCAG guidelines. Contact Outlook Business Solutions today to set up a free initial evaluation of your website.