As inclusiveness is becoming more and more important in public, accessibility on the Internet has become a serious problem for small and medium-sized companies. Successive court rulings have underlined that Internet accessibility is no longer optional for companies of all sizes. <! – ->
Problems with plugins for free accessibility
A statement by the Department of Justice of in 2018 confirmed that the ADA requirements to make your company accessible to customers with disabilities apply to both your website and your physical business. Recent headlines about the Supreme Court ruling against Dominos Pizza for running an app that cannot be used by blind pizza lovers only underlined the importance of this issue.
Accessibility on the Internet should affect every small business owner.
Accessibility on the Internet is not only important for the big fish. Disabled activists, tired of waiting for companies to comply with Internet accessibility guidelines such as WCAG 2.0, are increasingly sending legal requirement letters and file lawsuits against small businesses through an online store or have a simple web presence that does not meet the requirements with ADA Title III requirements for accessibility on the Internet.
<! – -> ADA Title III accessibility lawsuits against small businesses rose 181% in 2018 and cost an average of $ 20,000 to be resolved out of court. and much more to complete legal proceedings. It can start with a frustrated blind shopper who can't buy a pair of shoes because the shoe store's website doesn't support their screen reader, or with an older customer trying to order groceries online who doesn't understand how to complete their purchase because of the confusing layout of the website. Difficulties like this leave SMB websites open to lawsuits.
In addition, SME websites that are not accessible to bleeding customers are ready to hand over their money. 61 million Americans live with a disability, but still want to shop online, just like everyone else. It is estimated that people of working age with disabilities have an income of $ 21 billion which is more than the Hispanic and African-American markets combined.
A recent study on accessibility websites found that massive 98% of them did not meet the WCAG 2.0 requirements. It might give the impression that it doesn't matter to SME owners, but that's rarely the case. Small businesses want to offer services to their customers and comply with the law, but the Internet accessibility requirements are cloudy and confusing.
What is web access?
There is no legal definition of an accessible website, although most litigation uses the WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines to measure compliance. Accessibility problems can be:
- Supporting assistive technology, such as screen readers, used by blind Internet users.
- Texts that are clear and easy to read for consumers with visual impairments or color blindness
- Language that is simple and straightforward
- A logical and intuitive website hierarchy that enables visitors with cognitive impairments to find their way around the website.
- Buttons and clickable text that are large and easy to click
- Keyboard navigability for many people who cannot use a mouse
If a consumer with disabilities cannot complete a purchase on your website because of their disability, it cannot be said that your website technically complies with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. The wording of the law states that you may still be required to pay compensation. <! – ->
Unfortunately, small businesses face another obstacle in the form of free accessibility plugins that claim to solve accessibility issues but make them worse.
The failure of plugins for free accessibility
Most DIY website builder platforms offer free plugins and add-ons for accessibility, such as: B. UserWay WP Accessibility for WordPress. Small businesses cannot be held responsible for fixing the issue after adding one of these plugins, using an accessible website theme, or both. In reality, these plugins have lagged behind actual accessibility.
<! – -> Most plugins successfully correct basic usability problems such as:
- Adjusting the size, spacing and alignment of texts
- Improved the contrast ratio, the fonts and the text color so that the texts are easier to read.
- Enlarging the cursor and highlighting links to make them more clickable
Free plugins are important, but they do not meet the serious and difficult accessibility requirements, e.g. For example, supporting screen readers or enabling real keyboard navigability across the site. For example, UserWay offers its own screen reader, but does not support the most popular. Steps are taken to improve the keyboard's navigability, but this does not fully navigate the site keyboard.
Common plugin problems are:
- Correct shifting of focus in popups and web forms
- Support of navigation through dropdown menus
- Logical and clear movement through website content
Neither do they correct important ARIA attributes for screen readers. ALT captions; Form labels; clickable icons; and more. It's rare to find a plugin that can stop dangerous animations and flashing GIFs that can trigger a seizure in people with certain types of epilepsy. And there is no solution for users with cognitive impairments who have difficulty understanding online instructions.
As a result, small businesses are placed in a false sense of security. They download a free plugin or app, connect them to their website, and think – with good reason – that they have resolved their accessibility issues if their website is really a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Free Accessibility Plugins are a lawsuit waiting to happen
Accessibility problems go deeper than the average small business owner might recognize. With the growing number of accessibility lawsuits and the desire to serve their customers, SME owners are adding free accessibility plugins to welcome everyone to their website. However, these free plugins are buggy and only make things worse by claiming to be able to solve accessibility issues while leaving website owners open to costly lawsuits.