When websites are properly designed and coded, people with disabilities can use them. However, many sites are developed with accessibility barriers that make them difficult or impossible for some people to use.
Having an accessible site that meets WCAG guidelines is no longer optional. It’s required by law. Though there are still no enforceable ADA legal standards for website accessibility, there has been a dramatic increase in litigation during the last 5 years targeting businesses that don’t meet the web accessibility guidelines for ADA compliance.
So, why would you want to meet ADA web accessibility guidelines?
- It’s required by compliance: Many industries (e.g. government agencies, government-funded entities, or banking or educational institutions) are required by compliance regulations.
- It’s equal access: You want to ensure all users (regardless of their disability) have equal access to all the information, content and interactive elements on your website
- It’s the law: You want to avoid getting sued
How to get your website to meet the web accessibility guidelines:
There are two primary ways to get your website to meet accessibility guidelines. And they are not equal.
- Option 1: Design and build your website code to meet all the guidelines outlined here (https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG21/quickref/)
- Option 2: Install an automated web accessibility widget like accessiBe
Option 1: Build It
Designing and building your website with web accessibility guidelines in mind is the ideal approach to systematically meeting each guideline and giving all users a thoughtful experience.
- Ensuring colors meet required contrast levels for readability
- Avoiding typefaces that are too small or illegible
- Using text with images or colors to convey information
- Providing necessary color contrast for focus states that indicate where the cursor is on the page, andensuring users can tell where they are on page
- Designing user inputs like form fields to be understandable with the use of field labels and additional instructional info
- Providing clear and consistent navigation options
- Adding user controls for content that starts or rotates automatically (e.g. pause/play buttons)
- Determining how the keyboard-only user would complete the task.
- Ensuring all coding meets the guidelines
- Ensures the design and coding has been carefully considered in meeting WCAG guidelines
- Creates a meaningful user experience intended for the website to work for all users
- Can be expensive since it affects both design and code, and requires significant testing
Here is an example of what will be considered during the design and development process:
Option 2: Install a Widget
An automated widget (like accessiBe’s) offers a snippet of code that can usually be added easily to a website. It gives the user a simple interface allowing them to modify page elements designed to provide the user with an accessible experience.
Though this is a seemingly simple solution and may even prevent immediate litigation, it does not consider the user and provide a meaningful experience for them. Think of this approach as a bandaid or quick fix. Since it’s a tool that sits on your existing website, it will do the best it can to interpret what it sees to users and sometimes this isn’t what’s best or easiest for the user.
- Relatively easy to install, configure and test
- May help to temporarily prevent litigation
- Does not require significant turnaround time to install and configure
- Costs less
- Functions more as a bandaid. It may work to give users some helpful tools, but the website itself still doesn’t provide a meaningful experience to all users with disabilities.
Here’s an example of what that tool looks like:
The Bottom Line
Think of these two options like this: you were required to provide wheelchair access into a building you own, this would be the difference between building a properly constructed entrance with a ramp (Option 1) vs. lying down a piece of plywood over your existing steps (Option 2). Both solutions work sufficiently. But clearly, the first option is far superior.
If your business or organization seeks to create a thoughtful experience for your users, or your organization’s compliance laws require web accessibility, building a website with web accessibility is the way to go.
As a reminder, this is usually much more difficult to accomplish with an existing non-compliant website design since it will likely require repair of existing design & code which requires significant retooling and testing. But if you’re a small business that doesn’t have a large budget, using an automated web accessibility tool is better than nothing!
Schedule a complimentary discovery meeting with our team today.