Shopify Accessibility, ADA compliance
10 October 2021
ADA compliance

Shopify Accessibility: ADA Compliance for E-commerce Website

With real-world shops and services going online, e-commerce businesses have found ways to diversify to stay competitive. With this, many business owners have started launching their online businesses

For small business owners, one of the top options to do this is to build a Shopify store.

Shopify is a helpful service for small businesses because it offers an intuitive, easy-to-use platform for building an online store. However, when Shopify users are unable to access the site, it’s a serious problem. 

Thus, if you’re a Shopify store owner, you should ensure that your store is ADA compliant. In today’s article, we’ll discuss how you can ensure that your Shopify website is ADA compliant.

Defining ADA and WCAG

The American Disabilities Act (ADA) is a significant piece of legislation that ensures equality for people living with disabilities in all areas of life. Specifically, title 3 of the ADA refers to accessibility in public accommodations. 

Although originally websites were not named as a place of public accommodation, today, the DOJ confirmed websites should be considered. Thus they have also to be accessible and ADA compliant.

The DOJ failed to implement clear digital accessibility guidelines, leaving the Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) as the standard. 

For ADA compliance and web content accessibility, your website should meet WCAGlevel AA. 

ADA compliance for websites

Why Is It Important To Ensure Shopify Accessibility And ADA Compliance?

ADA-related lawsuits against websites have increased a staggering 300% over the last year. Thus, making your website accessible to everyone isn’t just a good idea; it’s also mandatory by law.

Also, non-compliance with accessibility regulations is more costly and time-consuming than making your website accessible. That said, why is ADA compliance important? The following will give you a fair idea about the importance of ADA compliance with websites.

✅ Enhanced User Experience

Accessibility is creating usable products, services, and environments for people with disabilities. It comes to enhance ease of use and user experience.

For example, providing alternative text, or alt text, helps people with slow internet connections understand your content before it loads. 

Simply put, an accessible website is a more usable one.

✅ Keeping Away From Penalties And Lawsuits

The internet and other digital technologies are becoming more and more prevalent in daily life. Thus, the web is a basic right for people with disabilities.

Despite the ADA not explicitly mentioning websites, it’s broad enough to extend into this digital realm. Additionally, the DOJ ruled that the lack of accessibility for websites may violate the ADA.

That said, ADA compliance will not only help provide a better user experience but protect your business as well.

✅ Improved Market Reach

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in 4 U.S. adults live with a disability. Thus, making your website accessible to this population makes sense financially.

A few modifications can help those with disabilities use your site. 

Many businesses have already lost sales due to inaccessibility. Don’t let your business be one of them. 

✅ Improved SEO

An accessible website makes it more usable and easily found by improving your search engine optimization. 

Why do you ask? It is because the goals of web accessibility and SEO are aligned.

For instance, cleaner interfaces and easier navigation help people with disabilities improve your website’s bounce rate. Another shared goal of accessibility and SEO is providing closed captions and transcripts for your content.

Given these, you can see how SEO and web accessibility are closely related. Thus, building an accessible website should be one of your priorities.

What Are Shopify Accessibility Policy And Guidelines?

Shopify-accessibility-policy

If you’re an e-commerce site owner, it’s essential to make your website accessible to a broader range of customers.

Also, compliance with the ADA is an important way to protect your business from costly lawsuits. It also means that disabled people can use your website the same way as everyone else.

In the case of Shopify, the platform has developed several guidelines that business owners can use to make their stores accessible. Nonetheless, keep in mind that following these doesn’t guarantee that your store is accessible to everyone.

Text Accessibility

Using the correct text formatting can make a big difference for customers with visual impairments. Some of Shopify’s guidelines include color contrast, text headings, and size and alignment.

Text links should also be identified using an underline or a visual differentiator.

Alternative Text

It’s important to make images accessible for all customers, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. To achieve a more inclusive web, you can add alt text to your images that accurately describe the picture.

This way, you can help screen readers better understand what is displayed. Additionally, customers with screen readers can rely on alt text to better understand the images on your site.

SlideShow And Video Accessibility

Make sure that your videos are accessible to all customers with disabilities by considering their needs. Some customers rely on text-to-speech, while others are deaf or have hearing difficulties that use closed captioning. 

REMEMBER: While all these guidelines help, following them doesn’t guarantee that your store is fully accessible. In the end, accessibility will depend on the store owner.

Why Is It important For Shopify Websites To Be ADA Compliant?

importance of shopify ADA compliance

Now that you know the importance of general website accessibility, it’s time we dive into the importance of Shopify ADA compliance. Let’s break it down into three points:

1. Shopify is one of the largest platforms, and it won’t make sense for such a forum to not adhere to the ADA guide.

Shopify’s digital presence has impacted e-commerce in many ways. Given their reach and platform, it’s their liability to conform to the law.

And remember: it doesn’t matter what platform your e-commerce store is on. Web accessibility is not only beneficial but is also the law.

2. Lawyers are specifically targeting e-commerce websites, leading to an increased number of ADA non-compliance.

If you’re still not convinced by the benefits of ADA compliance, just know that it’s now mandatory. 

Plaintiffs’ law firms are looking for a win. Thus, they’ll likely focus on US-based companies with a legal and physical presence.

So, even if your site is only visible in the US and you don’t sell to US customers, you’re still at risk. That said, ensuring that you meet the ADA compliance level is a must.

3. As an e-commerce website owner, ADA compliance is a social responsibility.

From a moral perspective, there’s no debate. ADA compliance for Shopify accessibility is the right thing to do.

Achieving accessibility means delivering a website that is accessible for those with disabilities. It is something that most companies overlook, but it has an enormous impact on people’s lives with disabilities.

With more people relying on your brand’s online shopping channel than before, you’ll make a bigger impact.

So, these three are the major points why Shopify websites should be ADA compliant.

Tips To Make Your Shopify Website ADA Compliant

Tips to make your Shopify website ADA compliant

As a Shopify e-commerce store owner, ADA compliance should be one of your priorities. While Shopify accessibility guidelines help, they don’t assure full accessibility.

If you’re wondering how to make your Shopify store ADA compliant, here’s how:

1. Carry out website audit for digital accessibility

Once you understand the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, it’s time to audit your site. You can use many tools to check for accessibility issues, including missing alt tags, buttons, and links.

Additionally, auditing your site based on the WCAG will help you find what works and what doesn’t.

2. Check Shopify accessibility guidelines, automation, manual tweaking, etc.

The platform’s guidelines will recommend ways you can make your site accessible. According to the WCAG, your website should be perceivable, understandable, operable, and robust to meet compliance.

Scanning these guidelines will help you pinpoint the specific aspects of your site that need to be fixed or improved.

3. Opt for accessibility tools and integrations like Accessibe and AudioEeye

Now, ADA compliance can be quite a handful. But, the good news is this: there are tools and integrations that you can use to make your e-commerce site meet ADA compliance.

For years, web accessibility used to be very costly and time-consuming because of the manual work needed. However, it has become a problem because websites are constantly updating, and maintaining accessibility is expensive.

There are also automated tools for accessibility, but you can’t trust anything that claims to automate work without manual input. Whether it’s software or a toolbar, anything that doesn’t require manual input is a lie.

Thus, using hybrid solutions like AudioEye is the way to go. It utilizes a Hybrid solution: using AI to fix the website’s code and manually going over the results to fix what doesn’t work.

Wrapping Up!

ADA compliance is an integral part of having an e-commerce business. Internet usage has become a civil right over the years, so meeting Shopify accessibility standards is your responsibility.

Like we’ve said, ADA compliance not only protects you from lawsuits. It also helps you impact the lives of millions of people by giving them equitable access to your website.

Carrying out your website audit for digital accessibility is the first step in taking a plunge into Shopify ADA compliance. Find out if your website is accessible and compliant here.

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