When the internet was created, one of its core principles was to establish equal opportunities for everyone, including persons with disabilities. One in seven people has some type of disability, which may limit their ability to interact with websites. Having an accessible website is no longer optional, it is a must-have.
Why Accessible Design Matters
When looking at your website, imagine what would happen if you:
- Couldn’t use a mouse?
- Couldn’t hear a video?
- Couldn’t see graphics or text?
- Couldn’t focus on the full content of a page?
These are just a few issues that disabled web users face, and they illustrate why it is essential to make your website accessible. Web accessibility refers to the configuration of your website, online products, and services to make them usable and easy to navigate for everyone, including those with hearing, vision, motor and cognitive conditions.
Your website should be inclusive, and it needs to be accessible to those who have permanent or temporary disabilities or situational disabilities. For example, someone who is visually impaired should be able to read through screen readers, a deaf user can stay up to date with your company’s current news through transcripts, and a visitor who cannot operate a mouse can navigate your site with keyboard input.
One of the biggest benefits of an accessible website is that it provides a better user experience for everyone, not just for individuals with disabilities. Who doesn’t want to see sharp color contrasts or easily understand icons, links, input fields and images? Accessibility is all about inclusiveness, and it is the best way to ensure that no visitor to your site is excluded.
Website Accessibility and ADA Compliance
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), established in 1990, was created with the goals of ending discrimination based on differing abilities. It requires establishments—government institutions, non-profit organizations, and businesses—give equal-access accommodations.
The ADA Standards for Accessible Design was published in September 2010. It covers all electronic and information technology, including computer hardware, software and documentation. Accordingly, the ADA Standards apply to all commercial and public entities that have places intended for public accommodation.
So, what does ADA say about websites? The web is considered a public accommodation and therefore obliged to comply with the ADA standards. Even though there are no pertinent regulations covering ADA web accessibility, federal courts ruled that website accessibility is within the spirit of ADA by lessening commerce and business barriers for those with disabilities. In several cases, the courts have ruled that websites fall under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and are thereby interpreted as a place of public accommodation. This means any forms of ineffective website design and development that are not accessible could be considered discrimination against persons with disabilities.
Making your website more accessible gives visitors a positive, inclusive experiences and eliminates discrimination against those with disabilities. Optimizing your site to be fully accessible can also help avoid costly litigation, and also provide practical benefits like better search engine ranking, better conversion rate, increased repeat visitors, and more loyal customers. At Provisio, we design and develop your site, so it is usable by all visitors and that any barriers to accessibility are addressed. We take the guesswork out of creating accessible sites to take your business further, faster. Interested in an accessibility review of your current site? Let’s connect!