An estimated 20% of all internet users have a disability or impairment, yet most websites are not accessible to them. This creates some major issues. Filtering 20% of your audience harms your top and bottom lines and damages your brand. Furthermore, consider the 20% who tell their friends, family, and colleagues about the inaccessible website. Globally, it is estimated that people with disabilities and those close to them control $13 trillion dollars of disposable income.
Accessibility should be one of the most important factors when designing, building, and enhancing a new website. Many websites suffer from poor contrast issues, a menu that cannot be tabbed through, and images with no alt text to describe their content. These are just a few of the common accessibility issues found on typical websites.
There are several different accessibility standards depending on the geographical region. It is important to understand the particular standard applicable to your region. The most common standard is WCAG 2.1, which stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. More information can be found here: https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/.
Accessibility should be planned and tested during the design and build phase. Every website should have certain features to establish a basic foundation for accessibility:
This list is not exhaustive but provides some examples.
Google Lighthouse can run tests for both desktop and mobile and provide an accessibility score. It can also provide insights into why your site may not be accessible, allowing you to correct those issues. However, it is important to note that Lighthouse is a quick test, not a comprehensive review.
While Lighthouse provides an accessibility score, this does not mean that your site is accessible or compliant. It is merely a general idea. Accessibility is an ongoing activity that should be considered with any site enhancement, content publication, or site modification.
This is our number one conversation with customers: just because your site is accessible doesn't mean it's compliant. You can put thousands of dollars of effort into ensuring accessibility, but it may still not be compliant.
To achieve compliance, it's necessary to hire an accessibility specialist who is accredited to audit and provide conformance to your website. Ensure they are accredited in the region(s) where your site(s) operate.
These specialists can perform a detailed audit and describe the work required to make your site accessible, or they can be involved early in a web project to ensure compliance from the start.
This is the proper way to go, but there are a few realities with this approach that can make it untenable:
As described, you are not only filtering out a large portion of potential clients but also opening yourself up to lawsuits. You can do your own research on this but in every jurisdiction, lawsuits are becoming more frequent and more expensive. You don’t need to be compliant to protect yourself from litigation but you do need to prove you are working on it.
We recommend using an automated accessibility solution to protect yourself from litigation and provide accessibility options while working on the big picture. One such solution we partner with is Accessibe (https://accessibe.com/).
Disclaimer: Accessibe is not intended to replace designing and building your website to be accessible, nor is it a long-term end-all solution. It's designed to bridge the gap between being accessible and compliant while allowing your organization time to catch up.
There are several pricing tiers for Accessibe: https://accessibe.com/pricing
If your site gets over 100,000 monthly visits, you will automatically need the Enterprise Plan. Otherwise, it is then decided by page count. Accessibe can be purchased through Fishtank and we can help you select the right plan.
Accessibility is a crucial aspect of any website and should be given due attention. It's important to be aware of the various factors involved and the solutions available to ensure accessibility. Regardless of whether someone has a disability or not, it's essential for everyone in an organization to advocate for accessibility and allocate the necessary budget and effort to achieve it.