Web Accessibility and Catering to Needs of Special Audiences
We’ve all had to start at the beginning with our websites. As online business owners, it’s a right of passage. You may have spent many hours behind your computer screen reviewing your site, writing content, and updating your site with the best website theme to make sure that you attract your ideal audience. More than that, the learning curve was intense too. Running your online business is an arduous process, so if there were more tasks on top of that, it would prove even more challenging.
Unfortunately, as business owners, we have to consider the changing environment we operate in. If you want to ensure that your site is legally protected and sustainable, you must follow the guidelines set out in the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). The mandate tells us that you have to ensure that your site is accessible to all users, and in particular, users who have a disability.
This might be new to you, so we’ve put together all the information you need to be aware of in this post. It will help you avoid any future lawsuits and update your website accordingly so that it caters to select audiences’ needs.
Besides the lawsuit that might come your way because of the lack of accessibility, there’s also the concern that your website is not entirely user friendly to everyone who visits. Suppose you’re a business owner who wants to provide your users’ best experience and keep the Google algorithm happy. In that case, you want to learn more about web accessibility and cater to particular audiences’ needs.
Now that you understand a broad view of the issue at hand with accessibility, it’s a good idea to understand it better and get insight into what this means and which regulations will impact your site.
What Exactly is Web Accessibility?
Web accessibility is all about how you cater to the needs of all of your users. It might be that a group of site users are perfectly happy with how your site works; however, there might be another that cannot see many elements on your site or cannot fully use your site since most links can only be accessed by clicking.
Those are a few examples where users tend to be disadvantaged where a feature is available, but they are physically unable to use it. That’s where the Americans with disabilities act (ADA) comes into play. ADA aims to protect all Americans who have disabilities and make sure they are treated fairly online and offline. This affects your site directly because you have to provide fair treatment and features to all customers. Initially, the act was initiated in 1990, and the focus was to prohibit discrimination based on disability, as indicated here.
For you, as a business owner, you must understand the act and what it entails. Any business owner, online or offline, should cater to the needs of people who access their business or online site. Usually, if someone has to visit your site and does not meet their needs, it does not allow them to access a particular page or feature, which could mean your site is not compliant.
Even worse than having someone visit and immediately leave your site, you could potentially have a lawsuit on your hands, which could cost you heavily in legal, lawyer, and case fees. And while this might seem frivolous and rare, Target noticed just how expensive and costly not being fully compliant can be, as they were sued over accessibility complaints for their site at Target.com. The end result was a $6 million judgement against them, as they lost their battle against National Federation of the Blind over such accessibility complaints.
Making Your Site More Accessible
Now that you understand the implications of ADA, let’s look briefly at simple ways to start making your site more accessible. The main areas impacted by ADA include text sizes, fonts, flashing images, and navigation of your site. In order to create a better experience, you can update and provide options on these features using a tool or manually.
Usually, the only step forward would be to redesign and re-code your entire website to make it more accessible, but there are a few other options. The coding option is costly but is a more permanent change.
Another option on the horizon includes using AI-powered accessiBe, which quickly analyzes your site and then remediates your images, fonts, menus, pop ups and all the content on your website using a JS scope. From here, all users will have the option of clicking the accessibility icon, and the site will be accessible based on their needs. The turn around time to get your site compliant is within 48 hours.
The Future of Web Accessibility and Your Site
You may have noticed that the regulations and mandates are firmly rooted and need to be adhered to. One of the cases we observed was the lawsuits against Netflix and Target, where they were not aligned with ADA. While these are more prominent companies that can afford to take care of this, you may need to be proactive and start planning to prevent the same happening to you as a smaller site.
The first step is understanding how the compliance and regulations work, then looking at your site and choosing whether to use an AI-powered service or hiring a professional web designer to re-do your website.
Both have their pros and cons, but you tend to have a quicker turnaround when you opt for the automated version. However, with a web designer, you can hard code all the accessibility elements you desire, but will it be enough to cater to all site visitors and their special needs? Whatever you decide to do in the end, it’s a good idea to begin the process because, in the future, there might be more stringent requirements.
You can follow the guide shared in this post to quickly get aligned and implement changes before you fall prey to the same fallout like Netflix or Target.
We hope this post provided you with the details surrounding the accessibility and catering to a particular audience’s needs. If you have any comments or ideas, please let us know!