Website and software design is built around a few basic assumed abilities—for starters, the ability to see, hear, and operate a keyboard and mouse. Not everyone is the same when it comes to capability, however. According to the CDC, one in four adults in the US lives with a disability. That's 61 million people who may not be able to use your website in the usual and expected ways. But that's okay because technology is the bridge for many disabilities.
Accessibility in web design is when you design your website or app to be usable by people with different abilities. In architecture, accessibility means features like ramps by the stairs and braille in the elevators. In web design, accessibility relates to features like text to speech, uncluttered layouts, and hotkey-ready design.
Why is web accessibility important?
Accessibility in web design is essential for two critical reasons:
- ADA compliance
- Differently abled design
The first is ADA compliance. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires businesses to make a reasonable effort to accommodate disabled customers. To remain in compliance, your website must provide standard accessibility measures, though these are loosely defined in the legal code.
Second, accessibility opens up your website to 26 percent of the population. Many brands don't realize how much money they are leaving on the table with careless accessibility measures—or even none at all. But if hearing or visually impaired or mobility-limited audience members can't use your website, they can't become customers.
Is website accessibility a requirement?
In the past, ADA compliance has not been treated as a necessity. Recently, however, there has been a rise in private and class-action lawsuits against businesses, both big and small, for ADA violations and anti-disability bias.
This bias does not have to be accurate or malicious. There doesn't have to be any prohibition against disabled customers—merely a failure to provide reasonable accommodation. Web design that is especially difficult for specific disabilities can also land you in hot water.
Is website accessibility a requirement? Legally, yes. Complying with the loosely defined ADA requirement of "reasonable accommodation" is necessary. This can be difficult, however, since no specific measures or standards have been established. Reasonable accommodation leaves room for interpretation, but it also leaves room for innovation and invention.
How does accessibility relate to my website?
Advantages of building an accessible website
- Increase your reach to disabled clients
- Provide accessible services to your audience
- Support accessibility in your industry
- Avoid the risk of ADA litigation
The pros of accessibility center on making your website more usable by a significant percentage of the population. You have the potential to win subscriptions and regular purchasing from clients who are ecstatic that your website offers the accessibility experience they need.
For many businesses, the most crucial benefit of accessibility is protection from ADA lawsuit risks. With an increase in companies being sued for lack of accessibility, ADA compliance is an important step.
Disadvantages of using website accessibility
- Time investment
- Complexity in website design
- Cost of website updates
There are a few cons when it comes to compliance. It costs time and money to upgrade your business website to be more accessible. Accessibility design also increases the complexity of your web design. It will be important to build your accessibility solutions in a way that does not add lag or weight to your web pages. You want to offer an accessible experience with high performance for users of every ability.
Where can I learn more about Web Accessibility?
A large amount of information on web accessibility is available online. You can explore ADA.gov to discover regulations and read up on officially released information. Or you can peruse blogs and message boards on various disability groups' websites. This will give you real-life perspectives on how accessible websites are used and which features are most appreciated directly from those who make regular use of them.
You can also consult with IT accessibility experts. Ask them what tools and features work best to make a website accessible and which tactics are best for your company and website design.
Eternal Works offers a free audit and report
Eternal Works can help you identify how accessible your website is right now and the best ways to move forward to achieve better website accessibility. Making your website accessible to disabled customers is the first step toward a more accessible digital environment for everyone. Technology is supposed to be the key to accessible accommodation. Technology should make life easier for those who are different, and each ADA-compliant website brings us closer to that world.
Keep your business safe from litigation and make your brand more accessible to those of all abilities. Contact us today.