Meeting the Needs of All Is the RIGHT Thing to Do
An accessible website is important because it ensures that everyone, regardless of their abilities, has equal access to information and functionality on the web. This includes individuals with visual, auditory, motor and cognitive disabilities. By designing for accessibility, websites become more usable for a wider audience and can improve overall user experience for everyone. Additionally, accessible websites are often required by law, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Accessibility Can Become a Legal Issue
There have been numerous lawsuits filed against organizations for failing to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities. Some examples include:
- National Federation of the Blind v. Target Corporation (2008)
- Robles v. Dominos Pizza LLC (2016)
- Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. (2017)
- Winn v. Dolgencorp LLC d/b/a Dollar General (2018)
- Guillermo Robles v. Lord & Taylor (2018)
- Reyes v. Capital One Bank (2019)
These lawsuits were filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires businesses to provide equal access to their goods and services to people with disabilities. The lawsuits highlighted the importance of accessible websites for people with disabilities and the need for organizations to make their digital assets accessible to all users.
National Federation of the Blind v. Target Corporation
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) v. Target Corporation was a landmark lawsuit filed in 2008 against Target, one of the largest retail corporations in the United States. The lawsuit claimed that Target’s website was not fully accessible to blind and visually impaired users and was therefore in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
At the time of the lawsuit, Target’s website was not fully accessible to screen reader software, which is used by blind and visually impaired users to navigate websites. This made it difficult or impossible for blind and visually impaired users to access the website’s full range of products and services.
The lawsuit was settled in 2009, with Target agreeing to make its website fully accessible to users with disabilities, including those who are blind or visually impaired. As part of the settlement, Target also agreed to pay $6 million to the NFB and to implement accessibility training for its employees.
The NFB v. Target lawsuit was one of the first lawsuits to address the issue of website accessibility under the ADA and helped to raise awareness of the importance of making websites accessible to all users, including those with disabilities.
Which Industries are More Likely to be Sued?
Any industry can be sued for having an inaccessible website, but some industries are more likely to be sued due to their size, popularity, or the types of goods and services they offer.
Industries that are commonly sued for inaccessible websites include:
Retail: retailers that sell products online are often sued for having websites that are not accessible to people with disabilities.
Financial services: banks, credit card companies, and other financial services providers are often sued for having websites that are not accessible to people with disabilities.
Travel and hospitality: airlines, hotels, and travel booking websites are often sued for having websites that are not accessible to people with disabilities.
Healthcare: hospitals, medical insurance providers, and other healthcare organizations are often sued for having websites that are not accessible to people with disabilities.
Government: federal, state, and local government agencies are often sued for having websites that are not accessible to people with disabilities.
These industries are more likely to be sued because they have a large online presence and serve a large number of users, including people with disabilities. It’s important for organizations in these and all industries to make their websites accessible to ensure equal access to goods and services for all users.
Designing Websites with Accessibility in Mind
An accessible website can still be an attractive website! There are several measures that a web designer should take (mostly behind the scenes) to meet guidelines. All web designer’s should:
- Use descriptive and concise page titles and headings
- Provide text alternatives for images and non-text content
- Make sure the site is navigable using only a keyboard
- Use proper color contrast for text and background
- Ensure the site has a logical and consistent structure
- Make sure the site is usable by people with cognitive or learning disabilities
- Use proper HTML markup to create a well-structured document
- Test the site with assistive technologies and users with disabilities.
Implementing these accessibility best practices can make your website more usable and accessible to a wider audience, including people with disabilities.
Win, Win, Google Ranks Accessible Websites Higher
As a bonus, website accessibility is one of the factors considered by Google in its ranking algorithm. A website that is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, is seen as providing a better user experience, which can positively impact its search engine ranking.
Does Your Website Need a Check-Up?
Over the past couple of years, as the importance of having an accessible website has moved more to the forefront, I have worked hard to implement best practices and test my websites to ensure compliance. If you have an older website though, I recommend that you contact me to set up an audit of your website. I’ll be able to test it for you and provide a quote for any updates that may need to be made.