Businesses Need to Ensure Their Website is AccessibleToday’s world functions are largely online; it is where people work, research, plan, communicate and stay up to date. Businesses and organizations are constantly trying to create the latest and greatest website, making certain their site is easy to locate and appealing to customers. But it’s time for businesses to think about who they might be missing online. Check their site to see if it allows access to individuals with disabilities. If a business or organization is not familiar with website accessibility, it is time to start thinking about it.

What does it mean to have an accessible website?A well designed website is accessible to everyone online and meets World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Sections 504 and Section 508). This means text, photos, videos and links are accessible to anyone who can navigate to a web page, regardless of their physical ability.

Web accessibility encompasses disabilities such as:

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Physical
  • Speech
  • Cognitive
  • Neurological disabilities (W3C Web Accessibility Initiative http://www.w3.org)

Who should have an accessible website?Web accessibility laws require all federal and government programs to be accessible. In the United States,  there is currently no universal law requiring all websites be compliant, but this does not mean websites are not vulnerable to legal or discrimination issues. In recent years, there have been numerous civil rights complaints against businesses for inaccessible websites. Federal laws that deal with accessibility and websites are under review, with a focus on expanding these laws to cover more areas online.

For a small business or organization, it is unlikely the current or upcoming web accessibility laws will immediately affect a business. It is wise to be proactive and protect businesses before having to dealing with legal ramifications. It is clear the United States is moving toward requiring all websites be compliant with ADA regulations.  Businesses should move towards ensuring their website is accessible by testing their website with accessibility tools and making sure their site is user friendly to all individuals.