If you run a Shopify store, web accessibility is a term you should have in your vocabulary.
Web accessibility refers to adjustments, tools, and technologies that help disabled users access and engage with websites and other online content. These adjustments make it that much easier for a user to perceive, understand, and engage with anything on the web.
This guide will walk you through the legal requirements for accessibility, ramifications for failure to provide an accessible store, why accessibility is important, and how to make your store accessible.
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The ADA and WCAG
According to Title 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), businesses with places of public accommodation are required to be accessible to individuals with disabilities. The ADA also requires businesses to make reasonable modifications, if necessary, in order to be accessible. Despite the fact that websites are not explicitly identified in the ADA statute, recently, courts have ruled that just as physical places of public accommodation must be accessible to individuals with disabilities, so must websites and mobile apps.
Your website thus needs to comply with the ADA. The best way to achieve ADA compliance is complying with the WCAG guidelines.
Read our definitive guide on ADA compliance to find out more about what the WCAG is, why complying with it is the best way to reduce the chance for legal liability, and step-by-step instructions on how to make your website accessible.
According to Title 3 of the ADA, businesses are required to make modifications in order to accommodate people with disabilities. Despite the fact that websites weren’t originally named in the ADA, recently, courts have ruled that they should be included.
If you use Shopify, your website also needs to conform to ADA and WCAG guidelines.
As a Shopify website owner, it’s your social and legal responsibility to ensure that all users, including those living with disabilities, can access your website, products, and any digital content you publish.
The good news is that taking the time to make your website accessible is beneficial to both you and your customers.
What Could Happen if Your Shopify Store is Not Accessible/ADA Compliant?
Now that web accessibility is such a hot topic, a number of law firms have entered this niche and are making a lot of money suing website owners.
Any Shopify stores that fail to comply with ADA requirements are at risk of costly legal demand letters, which typically start from about $5,000. And should the matter go to court, you could be facing settlement costs that add up to tens of thousands of dollars!
Importance of Accessibility for your Shopify Store
Enhanced User Experience
One of the main goals of accessibility is to create platforms, services, and online environments that are easier to access, use, and understand. Disabled users can’t always navigate a website in the same way that anyone else can, which is a frustrating experience if a site is not ADA compliant. Moreover, you may be missing out on business from disabled users!
By making your Shopify site accessible, you are ensuring that every user has the best possible shopping and browsing experience.
Reduced Legal Risks
ADA lawsuits are more common than ever before, which means if your Shopify site isn’t compliant, you could be the next recipient of a demand letter. Everyone has the right to access the web and all that it offers, including those living with disabilities.
Taking some simple steps to adjust your website can mean the difference between more sales or costly legal fees and a damaged brand reputation.
Using the correct text formatting can make a big difference for customers with visual impairments. Some of Shopify’s guidelines include using the correct color contrast, headers, text size, and alignment. Text links should also be identified using an underline or a visual differentiator.
It’s important to make images accessible to all users, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. To achieve this, you can add ALT text to the images on your site. ALT text works with screen readers to ensure a user knows and understands what’s on your site.
It’s also important to 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 and require closed captioning.
Why Is It important For Shopify Websites To Be ADA Compliant?
Now that you know the importance of general website accessibility, it’s time we dive into the importance of Shopify ADA compliance because Shopify websites are subject to the exact same legal claims as general websites.
1. Shopify is one of the largest e-commerce platforms
Shopify’s digital presence has impacted the e-commerce space in a big way. Given their size and reach, it’s essential that Shopify complies with ADA requirements, both for legal reasons and to maintain their reputation.
2. Lawyers are specifically targeting e-commerce websites
If you’re still not convinced of the benefits of ADA compliance, focus on one thing: it’s now mandatory. Law firms are looking for a win, which is why there’s a strong focus on US-based companies with a physical and online 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. Even companies with just an online presence have been found to be covered by the ADA. Thus, regardless of where your site and business are based, ADA compliance is a must.
3. ADA compliance is a social responsibility
From a moral perspective, there’s no debate. Prioritizing Shopify accessibility for ADA compliance is the right thing to do.
Achieving accessibility means delivering a website that is accessible to everyone, regardless of ability. It is something that most companies overlook, but it has an enormous impact on people’s lives.
With more people relying on your brand’s online channels than ever before, you’ll make a bigger impact by becoming ADA compliant.
Tips To Make Your Shopify Website ADA Compliant
If you’re ready to make your e-commerce store accessible as a Shopify website owner, here are some of the basic steps you can take:
1. Audit your site
Once you understand the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), it’s time to audit your site. There are a number of tools you can use to check for accessibility issues, including missing alt tags, buttons, and links.
2. Check Shopify accessibility guidelines
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.
Scan your website for accessibility related issues for free
ADA compliance is an integral part of running an e-commerce business. Internet usage has become a civil right over the years, so meeting Shopify accessibility standards is your responsibility.
ADA compliance not only protects you from lawsuits, but also helps you impact the lives of millions of people by giving them equitable access to your website.
Carrying out a web accessibility audit is the first step in achieving ADA compliance. Find out if your website is accessible and compliant by scanning your website now.
To make your Shopify store accessible, you need to start with a site audit. A third-party tool is generally best for this. From there, you can either choose to make manual edits or you can install one of several accessibility apps available on Shopify to make your site accessible. Changes you can expect to make include color contrast adjustments, adding alt text, and adjusting header structures.
A Shopify website isn’t automatically fully ADA compliant. Website owners need to make the necessary changes and adjustments to ensure full compliance. This can be done manually or with the help of a web accessibility tool that automatically changes the code of your Shopify site.
To conform with WCAG 2.0, Level AA, Shopify will review any new website content and make the necessary amendments.
By continuing to use Accessibility Checker, you agree to this.