Website accessibility is a hot topic that has been on my mind lately. What began as a slight awareness in the past two years has become a priority. With reports of lawsuits regarding website accessibility on the rise since 2018, I have been exploring all of the various methods to get our website compliant to be able to extend the same solution to our clients as well. The extent and complexity of website accessibility guidelines are not to be overlooked since labor and ongoing maintenance are a big a factor. First, let’s start with the obvious questions.
1. What is website accessibility
2. Why should I care?
What is website accessibility?
“Website accessibility is the purposeful design of webpages to be accessible for and usable by people with disabilities. When a website is inaccessible, blind individuals, those with limited mobility, people who experience seizures, and others may be unable to fully use the website. Oftentimes, people with disabilities use assistive technologies to help them navigate the web.” – equalrights.org
Accessibility is more than changing colors of the page elements for the color blind. It includes guidelines such as pages that can be navigated by keyboard, heard by the blind, and a host of other requirements that are time-consuming and can cost over $5000 from an accessibility expert.
Accessibility is not an option
Recently a number of cases have been filed against Small businesses, Healthcare companies, eCommerce companies, Housing and Property Management companies on the grounds that their websites did not accommodate people with disabilities. ADA Accessibility lawsuits rose 183% from 2017 to 2018. If you thought this is no big deal then read about this case involving Domino’s pizza. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1 in 5 people are living with a diagnosed disability. That represents a huge underserved segment of the population in this country that is looking for a business willing to accommodate their needs, especially when it comes to looking for housing
Compliance is complicated
There are a number of plugins and overlay solutions available that claim to handle compliance issues. After testing a number of these we have found that they do not get a website to 100% compliance. Many of them only bring your website to 25% compliance. That is too much exposure to ignore. In addition, a website is constantly growing. What was once a fully compliant website is no longer fully compliant after additions, updates, and changes. Manually updating for full compliance is not a do it once and never again. It requires constant updating and maintenance that can quickly become cost-prohibitive. One of the main obstacles the cost of simply finding out if your website is compliant. An audit can cost as much as $50,000+ in some cases.
Accessibility handled proactively
Maintaining a website is already challenging and adding ADA and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to the list can make it daunting. Many SMBs lack the expertise and focus or budget. Even large companies are struggling to meet the guidelines due to a lack of awareness and focus. However, taking a proactive approach to the situation can save tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in the future. In light of COVID-19 this issue is gaining momentum as more people are online working from home highlighting a greater demand and need for equal accessibility.
How to solve the problem
We recently noticed a spike in web accessibility lawsuits in the news. In the past year we saw that increasing numbers of Small and Medium sized businesses across industries as well as Federal Government Agencies are receiving demand letters from people with disabilities forcing them to make their websites fully accessible.
Because of this shift, in the past few weeks we have searched for effective and simple solutions to solve this problem for you and for our other clients. Until recently, none of the solutions we found met our needs. The current alternatives out there are:
- Manual web accessibility coding work – mostly expensive ($5000 -$15,000 per project), slow and doesn’t provide an ongoing solution.
- Web accessibility plugin- achieves only 20% compliance making you vulnerable to lawsuits since it does not abide by the legislative guidelines.
Recently, we found a solution that covers all aspects of website compliance. This is an AI automated system that can achieve full ADA compliance within 48 hours and provides 24/7 automatic maintenance. We have recently partnered with Accessibe to provide to you by far the most simple, automated and affordable solution that we have found. After reviewing their system and testing it on our own website, we have decided to offer the same solution to all of our clients.