It’s a little-known fact that over one billion people live with a disability (approximately 15% of the global population). From blindness and hearing impairments to motor and neurological disabilities, millions of people struggle to navigate websites. Over the past few years, online accessibility has become an increasingly hot topic. After a few landmark cases set the precedent, such as the Supreme Court ruling against Domino’s Pizza, plaintiff law firms now have renewed confidence in their ability to win claims against businesses that fail to meet digital accessibility criteria. This is why web accessibility checkers are rising to meet the need.

Furthermore, the recent guidance from the Department of Justice confirmed the stance that websites and other forms of digital content are to be considered “public places of accommodation.” They are therefore subject to scrutiny under Title II of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

The bottom line: business owners must keep their eye on the ball to ensure the overall accessibility of their digital content, or else they very easily find themselves fighting a costly lawsuit.

Breaking down the WCAG 2.1

These days, most businesses operate complex websites that contain a vast array of digital content, including images, videos, blog posts, and other forms of copy. However, ensuring that all of this content is accessible to those with disabilities is no easy task (if you want to do it manually, that is).

 That’s because plaintiff law firms typically cite ADA violations by demonstrating a company’s failure to meet the universal web accessibility guidelines, the WCAG 2.1. These guidelines define a list of accessibility standards that companies must uphold if they are to be deemed compliant and accessible to people of all ability levels. These standards break down into four main areas:

  • Perceivable – Information and user interfaces should be presented in a way that is perceivable to a wide range of ability levels.
  • Operable – All digital content must be operable for people with disabilities through the use of assistive technology, such as keyboard navigation and screen readers.
  • Understandable – All written content should be easily understandable and not overly complex unless absolutely necessary.
  • Robust – Content must be robust enough that it will function effectively with assistive technology. Plus, it will not lose its semantic meaning in the process.

What are web accessibility checkers?

As mentioned, manually assessing the overall accessibility of your digital content is not for the faint-hearted. Since it will require prior coding knowledge and a comprehensive understanding of the WCAG. Fortunately, automated solutions exist to do most of this work for you—“web accessibility checkers.”

These online tools examine all the pages on your domain and compare their accessibility to the WCAG 2.1 criteria. For example accessScan, a free online tool built by the web accessibility experts at accessiBe, utilizes AI to mimic user testing and scans your website for accessibility faults to inform you precisely where you stand. With this information, you will be able to determine whether your site is compliant, semi-compliant, or non-compliant. If your site falls short in one or more areas, you identify and then remediate the issues with confidence.

Furthermore, the audit will provide you will a detailed report on each accessibility element, including:

  • Navigation
  • Clickables
  • Orientation
  • Alt text
  • Graphics
  • Readability

You can also download your results as a PDF or share them with your team/peers.

The consequences of ADA non-compliance

For many small-to-medium-sized business owners, web accessibility possibly seems like an unnecessary task to save for a later date. After all, there are plenty more important things to focus on in the meantime, right? Well, unfortunately, that line of thinking may put your company in jeopardy for a number of reasons. Here’s why:

Lawsuits

Web accessibility lawsuits are on the rise. According to the Bureau of Internet Accessibility (BOIA), lawsuits filed against U.S. businesses increased by 14.3% in 2021, and it looks like this rate will continue to rise in the coming years. The BOIA also states that the average cost of a digital accessibility lawsuit is around $25,000 once settlement fees. Plus, remediation costs have been taken into account. For most businesses, this cost would be too big of a burden to take on and survive. This means that neglecting web accessibility could put your entire business operations at risk.

Damaged reputation

As our global society becomes more switched on to social justice issues such as diversity, equity, and inclusion, not taking web accessibility seriously is not going to be a good look for your brand. These days, the spotlight shines firmly on businesses for them to do the right thing for their consumers, regardless of their race, age, gender, or disability. For instance, consider a physical store that refuses to make accommodations for disabled users, such as a wheelchair ramp, handrails, or disabled toilets. Before long, they would receive an influx of complaints, and their name would likely be dragged through the mud. Online accessibility should be viewed in the same way.

Reduced customer base

Lastly, with over one billion disabled people in the world, neglecting web accessibility is simply a poor business move. Any smart business owner should want to open up their products and services to as many potential buyers as possible. However, an inaccessible site may inadvertently exclude disabled consumers from being able to purchase your goods.

Final words

Web accessibility checkers allow you to assess the current level of accessibility across your web pages. Typically, these online tools will compare the content on your site against the guidelines stated in the WCAG 2.1. Armed with the results provided by these checkers, you will be able to better inform your digital accessibility strategy. Plus, put measures in place to ensure a seamless online experience for all of your visitors.