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Shopify Accessibility Guidelines:
The Definitive Guide (2022)

Danny Trichter | Last updated: May 2022 | 10 minutes
Shopify Accessibility  Guidelines: <br>The Definitive Guide (2022)

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. Basically, 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:

  • What is ADA and WCAG?
  • How does accessibility apply to a shopify store?
  • How to make your Shopify store compliant?

Let’s dive in.

Chapter 1

The Basics of Accessibility

The Basics of Accessibility

The Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) outline the steps that Shopify store owners need to take to make their sites accessible and comply with the ADA – the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Unfortunately, the reality is that a large percentage of Shopify websites are not fully accessible or compliant, which can lead to bigger problems.

This guide will take you through everything you need to know about being ADA compliant and opening your site up to all users, regardless of ability.

Defining ADA and WCAG

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.

Read our definitive guide on ADA compliance to find out more, including step-by-step instructions on how to make your website fully accessible and ADA compliant.

ADA compliance guide

Chapter 2

Risks Associated with Non-Compliance

Risks Associated with Non-Compliance

As a Shopify website owner, it’s your social 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. Let’s look at some of the main benefits:

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 demand letters, which 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

Word accessibility

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.

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. 

And in today’s market, a brand’s reputation is everything! People want to do business with brands that are inclusive and that make their customers feel seen and heard.

Understanding the Current Landscape of ADA Compliance Lawsuits

Improved Market Reach

Did you know that close to 35 million people are living with disabilities? And this is in the United States alone! 

By making web accessibility and ADA compliance a priority, you are automatically expanding your target audience and boosting your bottom line. Why lose sales to something that’s so easy to change?

Media accessibility audio and video

Improved SEO

We all understand the importance of SEO. The better your rankings, the more sales you can generate. However, what many might not realize is that web accessibility and SEO work hand-in-hand.

By making your Shopify site accessible, you are providing shoppers and browsers with a better user experience, and search engines love a good user experience. 

Once you start looking at SEO and web accessibility best practices, you can clearly see why they’re so closely related. 

Non-compliance with accessibility regulations is far more costly and damaging than actually taking the time to make your website accessible.

Chapter 3

How to make your Shopify Store Accessible?

How to make your Shopify Store Accessible?

The good news is that making your Shopify website ADA compliant doesn’t need to be complicated and you don’t need to delve into the code of your site either. 

Not only does Shopify have several built-in accessibility features and tools, but there are other third-party solutions available to simplify this process too.

Here are the Policies and Guidelines Applicable to a Shopify Store

Shopify-accessibility-policy

Text Accessibility

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.

Alternative Text

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.

SlideShow and Video Accessibility

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?

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

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. Overall, regardless of where your site and business are based, ADA compliance is a must.

accessibility law

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

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.

3.  Use accessibility tools and integrations like Accessibe and AudioEeye

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 ADA compliant.

For years, web accessibility used to be very costly and time-consuming because of the manual work it entailed. Today, automated accessibility tools are changing the game.

Our top recommendation: Audioeye
  • WCAG
  • ADA
  • Section 508 Compliant

Using hybrid solutions like AudioEye is the way to go. Solutions such as this use AI to fix a website’s code and offer manual fixes where necessary.

Pros

  • 30-day Free Trial
  • 75,000+ Clients
  • Includes Accessibility Statement and Certification
  • Litigation Support Package and Monthly Compliance Audits

Cons

  • Focused on USA and Canadian Markets

Existing Clients

accessiBe
  • WCAG
  • ADA
  • Section 508 Compliant

Get started with your website’s accessibilty with accessiBe’s easy to use features and technology.

Pros

  • 7-day free trial
  • Account managers available to guide you through the product, pricing, and any questions you may have
  • Fast turnaround with a 5 min installation, and 48-hour compliance process
  • 100,000+ clients use accessiBe including legal and government organizations

Cons

  • Built specifically for websites and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)- some web apps might not be compatible

Existing Clients

Chapter 4

Summary

Summary

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 here.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How to make Shopify site ada compliant?

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.

2. Is Shopify website ADA compliant?

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.

3. What accessibility level does Shopify aim to meet by 2022?

To conform with WCAG 2.0, Level AA, Shopify will review any new website content and make the necessary amendments.

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