Take This Downtime to Work on Your Website Accessibility

As shelter-in-place orders continue to remain in effect and non-essential businesses are closed, many consumers are resorting to online activity. Now more than ever, people are ordering food, working, shopping, and engaging with one another online.

The hospitality industry took a big hit since the start of COVID-19, resulting in less business and more downtime. While your business has many important issues to address, you should also be using this time to work on your website accessibility.

Why website accessibility is important

According to the CDC, 16.5% of Americans have hearing trouble, and 12.9% of Americans have vision trouble. These percentages account for about 73 million people in the United States.

Therefore, without proper accessibility, you could be losing over 20% of the potential market for your products and services.

It can be difficult for people with visual issues to navigate many websites online today. Making your website accessible can remedy many of the problems that prevent those from being able to use your website.

Without proper ADA Compliance, you’re at risk for a lawsuit

According to the Search Engine Journal, “Both the U.S. and the U.K. refer to non-government related websites as ‘public’ and ‘public sector’ entities, allowing the legal system to hear cases brought by persons with disabilities who find themselves unable to use a public-facing business website.”

These lawsuits are usually brought by visually impaired website visitors who use screen reading devices and software. The screen reading devices navigate through your website and access the content on them. From there, they read the content aloud to the visitor. Tthe problem is, however, that most sites are not compatible with the screen reading devices.

One way screen readers navigate content is through images. For example, if your image does not have alt text behind it, then the screen reader will only be able to read ‘image’ or whatever name the content was downloaded under, which could easily be a jumble of numbers.

How to make your website ADA compliant

There are three levels of ADA compliance to make your website accessible to all users. The Website Content Accessibility Guidelines outline these three levels as A, AA, and AAA. Level A is the weakest and Level AAA is the stongest.

Most people stick to Level AA, as Level AAA is a very aggressive approach to compliance and doesn’t apply to everyone. Here are a few requirements to consider:

  • Pay attention to site contrast. For example, if you have a light background, use dark text. If you have a dark background, use white contrast.
  • Develop a unique and descriptive page title on each page of the website.
  • Enable your users to resize text up to 200%.
  • Give your images descriptive alt tags.
  • Audit your website’s code. 
  • Add language options.

These are just a few requirements you will need to implement on your website. To review the full list of requirements, visit the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Uuse this downtime to work on your ADA compliance, if you have not already done so. Online behavior has increased significantly due to COVID-19. Therefore, a user-friendly experience during this time is beneficial for you and your customers. And keep in mind, this is not a one-time fix. If your website maintenance is on-going, so is your website’s accessibility.