Are You Being Proactive?
Are You Being Proactive?
To provide equality, the Americans with Disabilities Act established that all individuals, including those with disabilities, must have equal access to places of public accommodation. While this might conjure images of braille signs for the visually impaired, building entrance ramps for wheelchairs and closed captioning on the television for the hard of hearing, equal access also applies to intangible locations, including websites.
When websites have barriers that inhibit access for individuals with disabilities, it becomes a civil rights issue, one that the Department of Justice is aggressively defending. In order to avoid legal action, as well as the associated time and cost, ADA compliance is a requirement for all businesses with an online presence.
WCAG and Section 508
The Web Content Accessibility Standards (WCAG 2.1) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 were established to help the fight toward equality and to encourage global cooperation. By taking proactive measures and following these standards, your organization will benefit by avoiding a costly and potentially damaging legal battle and prospective customers who may need additional online support due to a disability will have a better overall experience with your company. The sooner you understand the importance of web accessibility, the better.
Benefits of Being Proactive
The Internet is an important resource, one that affects many aspects of our daily lives. The Internet is used in school systems, employment agencies, hospitals and other healthcare organizations, government institutions and more. It is also one of the quickest and easiest ways to do business, especially for individuals who have a disability. While 3.9 billion people globally use the Internet, close to 56.7 million Americans, or 19% of the population, had a disability in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
It’s the Right Thing To Do
Dangers of Waiting
Among the many lawsuits that have been filed in recent years was a suit against a popular supermarket chain. In 2017, a judge in the Southern District of Florida ruled that Winn-Dixie’s website is heavily integrated with physical store locations, which makes it subject to ADA requirements. The ruling further stated that Winn-Dixie’s website is inaccessible to individuals with visual impairments who rely on the use of screen reader software.
Demonstrate Your Commitment Ahead of Time
Ways to Be Proactive
Assess Your Current State of Compliance
One of the easiest ways to be proactive is by contacting an experienced consulting firm. A consulting firm can be an important part of your team when it comes to the function and compliance of your website. In order to assess where you are in the process, your current level of accessibility must be established. Web accessibility audits, both automated and manual, measure the accessibility level against standards enforced by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) and Section 508 standards. Web accessibility audits are often the first step to improving your website, as they can demonstrate ways to improve the user experience, issue guidance on how to repair barriers and provide an overall report of ways to meet compliance standards.