Accessibility is becoming an important topic in today's society. People with disabilities face barriers to accessing public services, employment opportunities, and necessities like food or shelter. According to the United Nations, nearly half of the world's population lives in countries where they cannot fully participate in their societies due to disability.
What is Web Accessibility
Accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and built so people with special needs can use them. In short, they can see, hear, read, and move around the web.
Web accessibility means adhering to specific design guidelines so that everyone has an equal chance of accessing your site. It's essential for websites because it gives everyone equal opportunities to view your content.
Why should you care about web accessibility?
Accessible web design is important because it helps ensure that everyone can enjoy the benefits of the Internet. A website that isn't accessible can deny some visitors just as much as steps leading up to a building. Making sure that websites are accessible to everyone is a top government concern.
Title II of the ADA covers states and local governments, and Title III covers employment by private entities.
Title III prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by businesses open to the public (also referred to as "public accommodations" under the ADA). The ADA requires that businesses open to the public provide full and equal enjoyment of their goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to people with disabilities.
Businesses open to members of the general community must ensure that they effectively communicate with people who use hearing, speech, visual, cognitive, physical, or other impairments. For example, auxiliary aid and service providers may include sign language interprets, note takers, captioning, or assistive listening systems. Examples of businesses open for members of the general community:
- Retail stores and other sales or retail establishments;
- Hotels, inns, and motels;
- Hospitals and medical offices;
Courts have recognized accessibility as an important issue. Different people with disabilities have sued businesses because they had inaccessible sites. Those sites did not support assistive technologies for them.
According to Octaware Technologies, 74% of the ADA – Based lawsuits on Web Accessibility were filed against E-Commerce sites.
Are ADA compliance requirements mandatory for all websites?
As Title I of the ADA
states, compliance is not mandatory for all websites. Whether your organization needs to be ADA compliant depends on whether it meets any of the following criteria:
- A business that provides a service for the benefit of the public
- A state or local government agency
- A company with at least 15 employees
If your website does not meet the requirements described in Title I, it doesn't have to be ADA-compliant. However, it's still important to be aware of ADA standards and try to incorporate them into the design of your site.
Why? Because accessibility Matters for SEO.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) says
: "accessibility overlaps with other best practices such as mobile web design, device independence, multi-modal interaction, usability, design for older users, and search engine optimization (SEO). Case studies show that accessible websites have better search results, reduced maintenance costs, and increased audience reach, among other benefits."
We hope that makes sense. Understanding where SEO and web accessibility intersect is the first thing you need to do if you want to scale. Because anyone and everyone can access your site, making it accessible is the best way to ensure that people can use it.