There is no reason to be afraid of Accessibility lawsuits. With good insurance or a good legal team, these are manageable. Like they say, if an infraction is punishable by a fine, then THAT is the cost of doing business.
The real danger is not the tens of thousands of dollars spent fighting and settling an Accessibility lawsuit, its the order of magnitude more you could lose in revenue from people who expect more from businesses.
If I’m not afraid of Accessibility Lawsuits, why should I care about Accessibility?
2022 was a huge year for Accessibility, and 2023 is going to be even bigger. The importance of Accessibility, capital “A”, WCAG 3.0, has to do with users and their experience. This is why tracking page views is not enough, and why every aspect of a website should reflect attention to service and a genuine commitment to the community.
The flippant joke caption from above is meant to illustrate the attitude of a lot of (thankfully not all) business owners who brush off the idea of Accessibility. “Why are we talking about contrast? Can you just use the design I like from this template/magazine/other website? Can we have more dramatic animation in the body text?”
It is possible to have beautiful architecture that is accessible to all people. In the same way, it is possible to have a killer website that gains business and looks amazing and caters to all people, even those who can’t appreciate all its visual or auditory aspects.
Websites are built for visitors
Business owners care about presentation, the company image, their reputation. No one wants sloppily dressed reps on their sales floor, overtired or inebriated workers on a production floor, or a slippery floor for that matter. These are all liabilities for sure, but they should also be embarrassing.
Websites are meant to welcome, inform, sometimes even sell to a visitor. The ideal client should be strictly defined, but that should not conflict with how they interact with the world around them. Here are some examples:
Your visitor may have visual impairments. Blind users DO use websites, but this is not limited to them. Some will have low vision, varying color blindness, or perceive motion in a different way.
They may have motor impairments and don’t use a keyboard or a mouse like other visitors might. Cognitive impairments may keep some from being able to decipher overly clever messaging or metaphors in copy. Some navigation will be nearly impossible for these users to comprehend or even find.
Does the site have a lot of video? What an excellent tool for conveying information, and it’s great for holding attention. Not for those with hearing impairments, not if there are no captions, subtitles, even sign-language interpretation, depending on the nature of the content.
A lot of elderly people are really getting good at using technology, especially as it gets better and easier to use. But their willingness to learn and the device manufacturers’ adaptable design cannot always close the gap when text is too small or navigation is too complicated.
It may be a surprise to hear that mobile users are included in this group. In fact, part of the reason for this is slow internet connection, which affects a wider range of users. A study done by Pew Research shows 15% of American adults are “smartphone-only” internet users – meaning they own a smartphone, but do not have traditional home broadband service. Testing should include slow internet connections and some mobile devices.
It’s not too late
Start an Accessibility statement today. Make it a mantra, commit it to memory. The W3 have already made a resource to do so, and it is easy to make a statement. But after making the statement, the real work begins.
Get the resource here: https://www.w3.org/WAI/planning/statements/generator/#create
Thinking about a rebrand or a redesign? Start with Accessibility, and go from there.