Is your website really accessible?
Is it an online environment where all users, not only those with disabilities, are able to easily navigate, interact with and comprehend your website content?
In order to assure that websites and web applications are accessible to and usable by everyone, Web designers and developers must follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the Internet.
The W3C summarizes web accessibility into four key concepts:
- Web content must be perceivable
- Web content must be operable
- Web content must be understandable
- Web content must be robust
Accessibility makes good business sense
Goodwill, smart business, and pending governmental regulation should compel organizations to make websites accessible to all potential customers.
If your website is designed to generate revenue, obtain email addresses for newsletter subscriptions, and invite prospects to fill out forms, accessibility compliance can help increase conversions because you have designed for all people.
Without a compliant web presence, you are frustrating possible prospects and losing business. According to a Fifth Quadrant Analytics survey:
"The disability market represents 1.3 billion people globally who face challenges across three general areas—dexterity, cognition or sensory issues. Equivalent in size to the population of China, the disability market represents an annual disposable income of $1 trillion—and $544 billion in the US alone.”
Compliance laws are changing.
Until now, website accessibility hasn’t been a big concern for most business owners and marketers. But legislative changes should be in place by 2018. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is rolling out official compliance guidelines concerning online accessibility for the disabled as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Guidelines were supposed to be released to the public in the spring of 2016. DOJ has decided to first focus on public sites (Title II) then focus on private (Title III) sites. However, waiting until it's the law may make your site legally vulnerable in the meantime if you aren’t in compliance, as organizations such as Peapod, Target, Reebok, and the NBA have already found out.
How Accessible Website Services Can Help
Web designers and developers who want to quickly learn the WCAG 2.0 guidelines so they can apply them to their own work now can take advantage of two instructor-led online classes:
How to Create & Test Accessible Web Sites. This instructor-led, hands-on course covers essential design, coding, and testing procedures for Web designers and developers who want to be sure the sites they create are accessible to as many people as possible. Class participants will build and test an accessible web site based on the WCAG 2.0 Standards...Levels A, AA & AAA. They will then be able to create, test and maintain accessible websites for your clients and future prospects.
ACCESSIBILITY TESTING & REMEDIATION
Web site business owners who need an analysis of what it will take to make an existing Web site compliant can request a Web Site Accessibility Analysis. Mary can test your website to determine if it meets accessibility standards:
WCAG 2.0: 110 checkpoints covering A, AA and AAA W3 accessibility guidelines
Section 508: 15 US federal guidelines covered by 47 accessibility checkpoints.
Need a new compliant Web site? Accessible Web Site Development Services are also available.