Imagine you’re designing a new office or showroom for your business. You’ve gone through with the builder and discussed the layout, the color scheme, the finishing touches — everything you think you need to make a great impression on your customers. When the new building is finally completed, you realize the door has been sealed shut. While everything looks great, the building is completely inaccessible. If your website has not been upgraded with accessibility features, this is exactly what is happening to some potential customers.
Since being passed into law in the 1970s, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has helped to champion for the rights of those with disabilities. As much of everyday life now takes place online, the understanding of ADA has been updated to encompass digital spaces as well as the physical ones the law was originally intended for.
According to a 2020 study, more than 98% of website homepages had a detectable Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG 2.0) error. This likely means that unless a website was specifically built to be accessible, it is not.
What is Website Accessibility?
There are a variety of conditions that prevent or make it difficult for users to access your website. These can be anything from vision impairments like colorblindness or farsightedness to disorders like dyslexia or ADHD that make it hard for visitors to comprehend website content. Like wheelchair ramps or automatic doors on a physical building, there are certain features that websites can add to make content easier to access.
One thing to note is that accessibility issues aren’t always obvious. One of the most common (and not easily visible) components of a website accessibility project is adding additional information to the code of a website that allows screen reading technology to easily parse the information and read it aloud to the user.
Why is Website Accessibility Important?
Adding a website accessibility tool can accomplish two goals. The first is that ADA is the law in the United State and even small businesses without a physical location can be sued for having a non-compliant website. A handful of enterprising lawyers have made news in the last few years for going after financial institutions, car dealerships, and other businesses for having non-ADA compliant websites. The other reason is pure business: If your website isn’t accessible to some people, that’s fewer people you can convert into being a customer.
How Can I Make Sure My Website is Accessible?
One of the best ways to ensure your website is accessible by the largest possible audience is to install an accessibility widget. This can be a WordPress plugin, a third-party tool, or a manual evaluation and upgrade. Keep in mind that you may need to install the tool on all subdomains and gated user sections individually to maintain a fully compliant website.