Note: Left Plus Right is an Accessibe Agency Partner and receives a small commission if you sign-up through a link on this page.
What Is Website Accessibility?
At Left Plus Right, we’ve had multiple clients ask about website accessibility. This topic can be confusing for many people, but it comes down to one thing – your website should be accessible to everyone. This includes blind users with screen readers, people with cognitive issues, or simply older individuals who might have common vision problems.
If you don’t have a disability, it’s easy to take that for granted. But 26% of the US population has some form of disability according to the CDC. And beyond obvious disabilities, many people suffer from things like color blindness or simply have poor vision that prevents them from getting the most out of the internet.
We should all want to make sure our websites are accessible to everyone, simply because it’s the right thing to do. But beyond the simple kindness factor, it can also be a liability.
In recent years, we’ve seen a rise in lawsuits regarding accessibility including a high profile lawsuit in 2019 where a blind man successfully sued Dominos Pizza because he couldn’t order a pizza through their website. In the United States, there is a mountain of legislation around making everything (not just websites) accessible. ADA Title III was signed into law back in 1990 and is America’s most important law regarding accessibility and civil rights for people with disabilities, including web accessibility. For government agencies, their websites must be Section 508 complaint which points to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for specific requirements.
Beyond ADA Title III and Section 508, there are even more laws and acronyms depending on your country: IS 5568. EAA/EN301549. AODA. The list goes on. I’m not an attorney, so I won’t even try to get into the details of all these laws, but it all comes down to one thing: if you have a website, you should make your best efforts to ensure it’s accessible to everyone – regardless of the legal risks.
How to Determine if Your Website is Accessible?
If you’re not a web developer, it’s hard to understand all the requirements that go into making a website fully accessible. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has outlined the standards in detail here. For those of us designing and building websites, we typically abide by most of these standards, but it can be difficult to keep a website fully compliant over time – particularly if the website is being maintained by multiple site administrators and changing daily.
So, how do you know if your website is accessible at a glance? There are many tools that can scan a site and quickly point out issues including WebAccessibility.com.
Manual Updates vs New Automation Tools
In the past, large websites could be difficult to update and make fully WCAG compliant. To hire an agency or have an in-house team update every page manually is time-consuming and expensive. Typical projects would be $10,000 or more to complete for even smaller websites. That’s why we started searching for a more affordable alternative for our clients. After an extensive search, we came across a new company that is focused on making accessibility easier for everyone – Accessible
Since this is an automated tool, it does not fully replace real human website designers, developers and editors doing their jobs in a way that keeps websites 100% accessible. But, it is a great tool that will help ensure ongoing compliance and help fill in gaps when humans miss things.