Since the Internet is meant to be used by all, people living with disabilities from all aspects of life should have unlimited and unabated enjoyment of the World Wide Web. This includes those who suffer from physical, cognitive, visual, or auditory impairments.
Recently, websites have been targeted by lawyers in violation of ADA compliance. So here’s how you ensure e-commerce websites, are doing the right thing and ensuring that they are legally covered. This article will help you get started with e-commerce website accessibility.
Before we begin, just to let you know that you can scan your website for free to check for ADA compliance
Scan your website for accessibility related issues for free
The Importance Of Ecommerce ADA Compliance
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was established in the 90s to help end the discrimination and bias against differing abilities. It was based on the monumental Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, they went further, stating that it requires organizations to put an end to discrimination and enact “reasonable accommodations” for disabled employees.
The ADA is one of the major reasons why modern society enjoys wheelchair access and other equal-access accommodations in the workplace and even in public.
Nonetheless, no legislators were prepared for the boom of Internet access that radically changed how people do business.
While multiple amendments were made in the internet-centric time of 2008, the ADA still doesn’t explicitly say anything about online compliance.
Most of the time, it falls to the courts in determining how the ADA applies to websites. That is if they even apply at all.
Title III of the ADA demands that every “owner or operator” of any “place of public accommodation” give equal access to those meeting the ADA’s disability standards.
Many courts have found that since people “own” e-commerce websites, these websites are supposed to “accommodate the public.”
However, the e-commerce ADA compliance still lies in a grey area from the legal lens.
With this, judges have upheld the rights of those differently-abled. The courts found that online retailers and e-commerce websites must comply with the rules and regulations indicated in the ADA.
If your e-commerce website is not ADA compliant, this can make you liable.
For example, a lawsuit may be filed against your company if differently-abled people cannot or have trouble accessing or using your website.
Even if you don’t mean to exclude or discriminate against them, it could still happen. This could result in lawsuits that would cost you thousands of dollars. This shows why e-commerce website accessibility is signifcant.
First, non-compliance with ADA policies means that you are potentially turning away customers for the sole reason that they basically cannot shop with you.
Second, and most importantly, if your e-commerce website complies with the ADA, you’re giving people with disabilities the amount of attention and care that they deserve.
The Core Principles You Should Focus On
In the grey area of e-commerce ADA compliance, it’s safest to default to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG.
WCAG indicates the goals for enacting ecommerce ADA compliance. Such core principles of an ADA Compliance ecommerce guide state that your website should be:
Easy to perceive. Site visitors should easily perceive all the information on your site, including images, text, and video. You need to provide alternatives in case a user cannot see or hear the content.
Easy to operate. Users should navigate your website and access any of its features, no matter what.
Easy to understand. You want potential customers to understand the content of your website, including text, images, and videos. To wit, you can add instructions, text-to-speech, and such.
Robust. All those who visit your website should receive the same experience, care, and attention. For example, text-to-speech content should be the same as the content received by those who do not need this assistive technology.
ADA laws are no longer just linked to physical stores. All eCommerce websites need to be accessible and comply with WCAG standards. People with disabilities should have equal opportunities to engage with and purchase your products.
Regardless of whether you run a B2C or a B2B website, it cannot discriminate against those living with disabilities. All users should be able to access your B2B site and engage with your content, regardless of ability – it’s a legal requirement.
Even though Shopify continues to take steps that cater to the needs of customers living with disabilities, it doesn’t mean your site is automatically accessible. Keep in mind that the theme you’re using on your site isn’t necessarily accessible, which is why it’s important to scan your site and correct any accessibility issues to comply with legal requirements.
Start by auditing your Shopify site to get an accessibility score. From there, you can evaluate and deal with any accessibility issues. Some of the most basic steps you can take include using the correct header structures, adjusting your color contrast ratio to 4:5:1, adding alt tags to your images, and ensuring your navigation is consistent across all pages.
Building your site on the Magento platform (now Adobe Commerce) doesn’t necessarily mean it’s accessible and compliant. Website owners still need to audit their sites and make certain adjustments to ensure all users can access and engage with their content and online products.
By continuing to use Accessibility Checker, you agree to this.