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Website Accessibility

Business Website Accessibility: How to Get There and Knowing the Rules

January 30, 2017

Have you ever thought about how your website looks to a person with a disability? For example, how might individuals with visual impairments or blindness navigate your website? These are questions that are important to consider as you design your web presence for your business or organization. In fact, in many cases, it’s legally required to do so.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to being compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 for your business website.

Are you already compliant?                     

Checking to see if you’re already compliant on a basic level (as well as seeing potential low-hanging fruit for making your site more compliant) can be as simple as plugging your URL into one of many free online tools that can do a quick evaluation of your site. WebAim, for example, will identify areas for improvement, including text size, color contrast (for users with some visual impairments or who are colorblind), and use of alt tags (for use with screen-readers).

Is it legally required?

Though your customers will greatly appreciate your efforts to get into accessibility compliance, not all organizations or companies are legally required to do so. Essentially, if you are federally funded, your website needs to meet compliance standards—this includes federal agencies and nonprofits, as well as public educational institutions. While other for-profit companies or businesses aren’t necessarily required to comply, it opens up your customer pool greatly to make your site more disability-friendly.

In addition, recent legal rulings have begun to hold for-profit businesses responsible for non-compliance, so it’s best to get ahead of the curve and bring your site into compliance sooner than later.

How do colors factor in?

Becoming more ADA-compliant in your business’s web presence doesn’t have to be a total site redesign each time. There are simple measures you can take to remedy some common mistakes businesses make. For example, color contrast is a big part of compliance online—use this simple color checker to determine whether the background colors of your banners and site content mesh well with the foreground colors.  Sometimes all it takes is a brightness adjustment.

What about “alt tags?”

Another very simple way to fix your disability-compliance issues is to ensure that all of the images on your site have assigned alt tags. These are the keywords or phrases assigned to the images on your site that are unseen to the end user unless images are being blocked by the web browser or a person with a visual impairment or blindness is utilizing a screen reader. Images without alt tags are skipped over by screen-reading tools, and your customers might miss out on valuable visual information.

Who can help?

If you have questions about the importance of website accessibility and want some more insights on how to go about fixing potential errors, speak with our team at Ability for Hire. We can point you in the right direction for making your business’s web presence readily available and digestible to all potential customers, rather than just those without disabilities.

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