Why we made our site meet the strictest accessibility standards
The internet isn’t accessible enough. And the bar continues to be raised.
Not being accessible can reduce your website’s audience by 56 million Americans who report being disabled.
Plus, recent EU legislation points to a not-too-distant reality where broader web accessibility is legislated and enforced.
In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we’ve taken steps to upgrade our website beyond best practices for web accessibility.
When I was disabled following a debilitating accident, the internet gave me my only window into the world. It’s where my love of the internet and my motivation to found DBS began. Our passion and approach to accessibility for everyone on the web has always been one of the core values of DBS. We’ve been launching 508c-compliant websites since our inception in 2000.
Does it take extra work to make a site accessible to as many people as possible? Yes, but not that much. Especially when you consider the greater reach of your website. And why wouldn’t you put in a little extra work to reach 56 million more people?
These reasons (and more) have led us to upgrade our website to meet the toughest standards of the international World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Our website is now compliant to the AAA standard.
Moreover, as of January 1, 2018, every website we build will meet design and development criteria of the AA standard.
One way our website exceeds accessibility best practices is offering two different high-contrast modes: white on black, and black on white.
Now, for folks with limited mobility of their hand, our site can be navigated completely via keyboard. Someone who is colorblind may prefer the site in black and white. Our site offers that.
When we do a video, we’ll include an American sign-language translation and also a text transcript. And visitors using screen readers will have no trouble navigating the site or finding text alternatives to all visual and interactive content.
The Question I Get Asked the Most: Am I Legally Required to Make my Website Accessible?
About 15 years ago Target was sued by the National Federation of the Blind because it was not accessible to blind and visually impaired users. The company tried to have the federal case dismissed, but the judge refused. Rather than roll the dice in a trial, Target paid $6 million to settle the case out of court.
Just last year, Winn Dixie was sued, and lost, for having an inaccessible website and mandated to meet WCAG 2.0 AA guidelines.
Many publicly traded companies today try to comply with the AA requirements of the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). But those efforts often have mixed results.
To be fair, the U.S. Department of Justice hasn’t issued guidelines on how web accessibility falls under the ADA. But the fact is, ADA is Civil Rights law, and that’s why there were some 800-plus lawsuits just last year alone. They were filed against companies whose websites were not accessible to people with disabilities in violation of the ADA.
What bothers me most is that so many companies have a commitment to diversity, and yet they don’t take the few extra steps they could take with their website.
Companies just may not know what to do because corporate diversity folks don’t understand ADA compliance on the web. They don’t know what to check or how to check. It’s especially a problem in the bureaucracy of corporate America. People aren’t talking with each other.
What Are We Going to Do About It?
When we started these discussions, we knew it wasn’t enough to just talk about the importance of accessibility; we had to live it. Improving the accessibility and compliance of our site was the first step in that.
Stay tuned for the next few months. We’ve got a lot of great information coming out to help explain the what, the why, and the how around web accessibility. In addition to our accessible web design, we’ll also be announcing some new service offerings in the accessible email and accessible marketing space.
There are very few companies out there that specialize in developing websites that are ADA compliant. Depending on who you choose, it can be outrageously expensive.
We think it shouldn’t be cost prohibitive to make the web a fair and inclusive place.
-Cyndi Masters, CEO and Founder