More than 25% of all U.S. adults are living with some form of disability. That might not seem like much, but when you consider that could be 25% of your website traffic or 25% of your profit margin, it gets a lot more important to address—and rightfully so. It’s the 21st century and we have access to so many great tools. Every website should have an inclusive, accessible design to deliver the best user experience for all users.
But I’m a small business and I don’t really have a “web design” team.
That’s okay. You can outsource to a firm or an individual that’s experienced in building accessible websites and let them do the hard work. And in many cases, you can do it for a lot less than you might think. Price shouldn’t be your focus, but we know that as a small business, money is a big part of every decision. That’s why you’ll be glad to know that there are a lot of changes and updates you can make on your own to get started on improving your website accessibility.
Under Title III of the ADA, businesses must make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities in all “places of public accommodation,” which, according to the Department of Justice, websites qualify as. Of course, there are always circumstances and considerations to be factored in here.
The undue hardship clause is designed to cover those. It allows SMBs to be exempt from making accommodations if they are too disruptive or too costly to implement and would cause the business unnecessary strain.
However, most courts won’t see website accessibility as something that’s going to cause “undue hardship”—you can make a lot of simple updates without spending a fortune, thanks to technology and simple web design tools.
And, in case you’re not convinced, consider that in June of 2022, the ADA filed over 70 lawsuits against small California wineries, citing various website accessibility violations under the Act.
If your website is the digital version of a physical business, then having an inaccessible site would be similar to having a shop that’s up a set of steep stairs and has a narrow doorway to enter—that’s far from accessible, even for a lot of able-bodied people.
When you address the barriers that are preventing your website from being accessible, you can attract more customers. Not only will more people be able to use your site, but your reputation will improve and that can drive business, as well.
Having an accessible website means you can enjoy:
At this point, you can’t afford not to invest in accessibility for your business website. But just what is it that makes a website “accessible?”
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are your rulebook for accessibility. The guide is comprised of simple pass-or-fail style criteria that help you evaluate your site and content to ensure that it’s accessible to all users. There are three levels of conformance within the WCAG, but most small businesses will want to comply with Level AA criteria.
There are tools that can test some aspects of accessibility, but there are also some elements that require a human touch. Make sure that you have someone look things over if you’re not sure that you’ve done it all correctly. It’s an investment well made.
In addition to following the guidelines above, you’ll also want to keep in mind some useful do’s and don’ts that can help you along the way.
If you keep these things in mind, you’ll be well on your way to a much more accessible website before you know it.
So, we’ve mentioned that you can hire someone to check your accessibility or help you become compliant with ADA requirements. But just who is that person or persons? There are a few different options here. You can choose to hire:
With a more accessible website will come more leads—is your team ready? Hire the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai for a 24/7 answering service and support for lead intake and appointment scheduling. To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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