Web accessibility refers to the user experience of a website for online users with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities use assistive technology, such as screen readers, to access the web. If your website is not compatible with assistive technologies then your website is considered in-accessible.
Making your website accessible is the right thing to do. It could help your business expand its audience to about 20% of people. But website accessibility might also be required by law.
This blog outlines the legal requirements that your business might need to consider for your website.
ADA compliance and the WCAG
Technically, all businesses are required to have an accessible website based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA protects people with disabilities in all aspects of life. In 2022, the Department of Justice confirmed that websites are places of public accommodation. Therefore, websites are subject to the ADA’s requirements.
In other words, your ecommerce website is subject to the same accessibility standards as a public brick-and-mortar storefront.
The ADA doesn’t outline specific guidelines for your website accessibility. But, the web design industry has created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The WCAG is considered the industry standard for accessibility on the web. Following the WCAG will keep your business ADA compliant.
Government organizations and Section 508
If you’re a government agency, your website is subject to a different set of expectations regarding website accessibility.
Section 508, is applicable to government entities and federally funded organizations like museums, universities, and medical centers. In addition, any business that works with a government agency, like a contractor, must comply with section 508.
For section 508 compliance, businesses can follow the WCAG on their website.
Local law in California or New York
If your business operates in California or New York, you’re likely subject to more detailed local laws.
The California Unruh Act is the state’s own civil rights legislation that governs website accessibility.
It’s important to note that the Unruh Act protects all Californians regardless of where a company or website is based. So if you’re targeting customers in California without considering accessibility, your business could be vulnerable to litigation from users in California.
Similar, local laws exist in New York that protect New Yorkers from inaccessible online experiences. Again, if you target customers in this region, you’re legally required to follow the local laws regarding website accessibility.
Is my website accessible?
With several legal requirements potentially impacting your business, investing in website accessibility is a cost-effective and proactive thing to do.
The first step is to determine if your website needs special attention. You can start with a free website accessibility audit.
If you think you’d like to improve your website accessibility you can read more about Saltech’s website accessibility program.