Website Section 508 Compliance, WCAG 2.0 Alignment: What Businesses Need to Know.
By Kimberly McCormick, Director of Corporate Marketing at Bayshore Solutions.
Virtual ADA accessibility on your website is just as important as with your physical store or office, and is an increasingly scrutinized issue in digital business. Quality of online customer experience already drives superior search engine results as well as better online leads and sales. Ensuring this quality with full accessibility is the focus of this business trend.
Unless specific ADA compliance is specified as a requirement for a website build, the thorough measures for 508 compliance have not, to date, generally been included in the scope of work for all website builds. However, as trends are moving, it is a timely and very good idea to examine your business website’s friendliness to users of varying abilities.
Recent emphasis is being placed on “accessibility-friendly” website experiences. In response to this trend, Bayshore Solutions has put together some information about how “Section 508 Accessibility Standards” and “WCAG 2.0” may affect your website – and what you may want to do to strategically address this market trend.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act is about required accessibility to federal government electronic and information technology. The United States Access Board published the Section 508 Standards for this accessibility. Industry-led measures by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) have developed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) for web content accessibility.
Providing website experiences that are friendly to users with disabilities and/or who may be accessing websites with assistive technology (such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, Braille readers, and alternate input devices).
The US department of Justice has announced plans to release regulations for specific website standards in order to comply with the ADA in 2018. However, presently, there is a significant increase nationwide of financial services businesses and other website operators receiving legal demand letters from disability advocacy groups and plaintiff attorneys seeking remedial actions and financial payment.
At the very least, this is a brand reputation and publicity exposure that businesses don’t need.
The Benefits of Taking Action:
Ensuring that your website presents an accessible experience will have these positive effects:
- Better search-engine index-ability, positioning, and “find-ability”
- Enhanced Brand reputation and credibility
- Mitigate real, potential, or speculative legal exposure
- Present a welcoming, delightful experience to your customers of all abilities
Updating your website around accessibility should be a key strategic marketing concern. At the least, it will differentiate your brand and benefit your search engine visibility; and at most, taking this action can position your company’s online experience within the federal standards for accessibility and approval to do business with government entities.
What Can You Do About It?
In today’s climate of active, socially vocal consumer advocacy, incorporating accessibility to your website design and functionality is a smart move. Various industries are affected differently by the standards, ranging from legally-required compliance to brand differentiation through accessibility. Where your digital assets fall in this range is something your business should verify.
Likewise, every website is unique. Updating your website to meet accessibility standards could be a simple schedule of on-page items administered within your content management system, or it may require actions by a developer. So the first step is to analyze your website to make your specific diagnosis.
Where to Get More Information:
We’ve put together an information kit on website accessibility with checklists, standards overview and comparisons, and links to diagnostic tools to aid your next steps in accessibility assessment and planning.
Check out these resources, or contact us today, and we can help you with an experienced and thorough assessment, and recommend options available to achieve the website accessibility best suited to your business needs.