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Your Guide to Website Accessibility Standards (+ Compliance Checklist)

The internet has a host of information available to people globally, but some people have been denied access to this helpful content for one reason: There is a lack of website accessibility.

Your business likely offers its users important information about purchasing products and services, but are you making sure everyone has access to it?

Let's review website accessibility standards so you understand exactly what features you need to include on your website and why it's so important.

What Is Website Accessibility?

Website accessibility refers to the full access a person with a disability has to a website. A website that is accessible has the tools and technologies available so individuals with disabilities can use and contribute to them fully. The goal of web accessibility is to ensure all your visitors get the best experience possible.

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Some website accessibility standards include:

  • Alternative text should be available for non-text items on your site, such as images and infographics, for those who use screen readers.
  • Closed captioning should be provided for pre-recorded and live videos.
  • Audio descriptions should be added to videos that don’t present information in the original video’s soundtrack.
  • Keyboard only features should be added so individuals can navigate all aspects of the site without a mouse.
  • Pages and websites should be organized and structured properly (website headers and lists, etc.) to make it easy for people to navigate the site.
  • Clear and effective copy should always be used on a website to ensure everyone reading the information can understand it.

For a full list of standards view the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Who Do These Standards Help?

There is a wide range of conditions that may inhibit someone from accessing the internet, including those with permanent and temporary disabilities, old age, or even someone who can’t find their glasses.

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More specifically, website accessibility helps:

  • People with auditory, speech, or visual impairments
  • Individuals with cognitive or neurological disabilities
  • People with various physical disabilities
  • Older individuals whose abilities change due to aging
  • People with other limitations such as sensitivity to bright light or loud sounds
  • People who are temporarily disabled such as someone with a broken hand

Many people can be helped when companies adhere to website accessibility guidelines. Website accessibility is not just an option. It is covered by ADA laws, and there may be consequences if you aren’t compliant.

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What Happens If You're Not Compliant?

There are consequences for your business if your website is not accessible to everyone. The repercussions range from mild to severe depending on the accessibility features your website lacks.

Here are a few consequences your business could face if you don’t comply with web accessibility standards:

Lawsuits

Website accessibility is covered in the Americans with Disabilities Act, which makes it against the law to be non-compliant with certain accessibility guidelines. In 2019 alone, there were over 10,000 lawsuits filed in federal court.

Some recognizable brands have been sued for failing to comply with accessibility standards, such as Kylie Cosmetics and Domino’s pizza. It's best to become compliant now rather than pay the consequences.

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Legal Fees and Fines

The cost of website accessibility non-compliance is expensive. Fines for website accessibility violations range from $55,000 to $75,000 and are even more expensive for second and third offenses.

Poor Brand Reputation

Your target audience may see you as socially irresponsible and discriminative if you don’t comply with website accessibility guidelines. This could cause your existing customers to no longer maintain loyalty to your brand.

Lost Customers

Individuals with disabilities want to be your customers too, and they can’t do that easily if your website isn’t accessible to them. This results in many lost customers who prefer buying products and services from businesses that make websites easier for them to access.

SEO Rankings

Websites that follow accessibility standards are easier for search engines to crawl. This helps boost their SEO rankings. Having an inaccessible website can cause your business to be pushed down further on the search engine results page.

Your Website Accessibility Compliance Checklist

At first, it may be difficult to adapt or change your website to make sure it is compliant with all of the accessibility guidelines.

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Here is a comprehensive checklist to help you on your way to a fully accessible website:

Text and Color

  • Text can be increased and decreased easily by the user.
  • No images are used for text for decoration purposes.
  • There is a definite contrast between the color of your text and the background.
  • Color is not used to communicate information to users.

Audio and Video

  • Audio and videos contain captions or subtitles, or written transcripts are provided.
  • Audio and video can be stopped or paused by users.

Images

  • Images have alt text unless they are only for decoration.

Links

  • Links to text describe where the link is going rather than the URL.
  • Links to other downloadable documents include the file size and the document type.

Navigation and Site Structure

  • Command controls such as ‘Enter,’ ‘Shift+Tab,’ and ‘Tab’ can be used to navigate your website.
  • The website has multiple ways for users to find information (e.g., sitemap, navigation menu, search).

Forms

  • Labels are next to fields that you want people to click on or enter information into.

Flashing and Page Time Limits

  • No time limits are in use on your website.
  • There is no quick flashing on your pages.

After you check all of these items off of your list when adapting your website, be sure to check other guideline tips to ensure you are complying with all website accessibility requirements.

Next Steps to Ensure Compliance

Web accessibility is an important human right since the internet now contains a lot of pertinent information to help us with our daily living. Here are a few quick tips to further assist you with your web accessibility:

  • Select a content management system that makes website accessibility easy.
  • Use tables for data, and avoid using it for a layout.
  • Hire a trustworthy web accessibility company to help you comply with new guidelines.
  • Break up your content with subheadings.
  • Identify the language of the text.
  • Provide plenty of white space.
  • Double-check word choice for simplicity.
  • Choose media players that are accessible.
  • Test your webpages often for accessibility.
  • Test the accessibility of your mobile site.

As a business owner, it is essential for you to know the risks associated with not having an ADA compliant website. There are several tools and resources available to help you redevelop your website in a way that is beneficial to you and your users.

If you are still not sure how to comply with all WCAG guidelines and want to achieve 24/7 compliance, use automated web accessibility solutions like accessiBe to help you transform your website for greater inclusion.

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Erika Giles

Erika Giles

Erika is a Marketing Copywriter at Bluleadz. She is a huge fan of houseplants and podcasts about conspiracy theories. She spends most of her free time reading, writing, and enjoying the outdoors.