In 2019, there were over eleven thousand web accessibility lawsuits, and the number is growing monthly.
Many companies are unaware that websites without appropriate accessibility can result in lawsuits. Lack of compliance with regulations is a widespread issue. According to a comprehensive study comprising nearly ten million examples, ninety-eight percent of websites were found to fall short of regulations.
In the USA, web accessibility is mandatory under the ADA Act and Section 508. The push towards mandatory accessibility is spreading globally, with web accessibility expected to be made compulsory worldwide in approximately five years.
In this article, we explore the steps you can take to prevent legal action against your company as a result of poor user experience for disabled users. We’ll also look at how accessiBe, a new tool in this space, streamlines the process of making your website compliant with current regulations. accessiBe has recently raised $12 million and is fast becoming one of the web’s most popular tools.
Make Your Site Accessible: 4-Point Checklist
Accessibility is multifaceted. Often companies think that design elements are the main issue with accessibility. But content is also paramount. Here are the main things you can do to make your site accessible:
- Without any alternative text in an image’s anchor tag, only the file name will appear. This is often not enough to provide information for users, and in some situations may cause the user to become confused.
- Informative images, such as infographics, graphs, and charts, should have data clearly presented in the alt text so that all web users can access it.
- When it comes to social media, adding a comprehensive description of an image will help screen readers to understand it clearly.
- Video captions are an essential part of preventing lawsuits as they allow more users to understand visual content. Captions also enable search engines to trawl through videos for matches and display them in search results.
- Abbreviations and acronyms should usually be placed in parenthesis next to the full name. For example, The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). After writing the full name once, you can continue to use the acronym or abbreviation throughout the page. The exception to this rule is with very well-known acronyms such as KFC or FBI.
- Using language geared more towards a general audience will make your website more understandable overall. Any complex terms that might not be known should be explained in more straightforward language.
- Well organized content should be broken down into smaller sections, thus allowing users to access specific information without reading an entire page.
- Headings and a table of contents also make navigation simpler for users.
- A description of your website structure in the opening paragraphs will improve content accessibility.
- PDFs are much less accessible than web content. Decide with your content team if the PDFs you use are necessary.
The points outlined above comprise the main problems that need to be solved to make a website compliant. Tools like accessiBe, however, can simplify this process, ensuring that your website adheres to regulations with relatively little input on your part.
What Can accessiBe Do For You?
accessiBe uses a two-pronged approach to achieve full website compliance. On the one hand, an accessibility interface takes care of UI and design-related adjustments. At the same time, an AI-powered background process optimises content for screen-readers and keyboard navigation. Check out this in-depth review of what accessiBe has to offer for more information.
accessiBe’s accessibility interface allows every visitor to personally adjust your website to fit their needs. By selecting from pre-made disability profiles, such as “Visually Impaired Profile”, or “Cognitive Disability Profile”, users can make an immediate adjustment to your website that allows them to browse in their preferred way. To personalize further, users can adjust individual settings such as font size, color contrast, and so on.
The key features of the interface are:
- A “stop animations” option which freezes all gifs, animations, and flashing images.
- An on-screen keyboard that allows users to navigate the website without a mouse
- An online dictionary which enables users to search for phrases, abbreviations, and concepts.
- A quick navigation tool which can be used to visit other pages with one click.
- Content adjustments which modify how the content of your site is displayed (thus maximising readability). This is particularly useful for users with visual impairments and includes modifications like readable fonts, a text magnifier, content scaling, and much more.
- Display adjustments which modify the colorization of the website. This is helpful for users with light sensitivity, or colorblindness. Adjustments include text colorization, high contrast and invert contrast.
- Orientation adjustments which reduce on-screen noise and distractions. This helps those with visual impairments, cognitive disabilities, and motor impairments navigate the site more easily. Users can hide images, mute sounds, and take advantage of a virtual keyboard.
accessiBe’s artificial intelligence (AI) applies human logic to analyse a website. As humans, we use past experience, context, and visual cues to identify web elements. The AI works in a similar way, drawing from a database of millions of past interactions with web elements.
Here are the main ways this tech works:
- accessiBe image recognition scans images on your site to check for alternative text. Optimal character recognition (OCR) software analyzes the text, and image processing software (IRIS) analyses the images. accessiBe then provides accurate and informative alternative text to any images with insufficient descriptions.
- accessiBe makes maintaining compliance with regulations (and therefore avoiding lawsuits) a more manageable task with automatic, ongoing protection daily scans and analysis. These scans run every twenty-four hours to ensure that new updates comply with regulations.
Accessibility, which encompasses both design and content, is multifaceted. But having a website that adheres to regulations helps both your customers and your business. accessiBe’s tested approach ensures that your website is compliant with ADA requirements, and can eradicate the possibility of lawsuits over the long-term. Visit accessiBe’s Facebook page for more information.