Is your business’s website accessible? This important question is being tackled by businesses around the country which are subject to a number of accessibility and non-discrimination laws and regulations. Web accessibility means being accommodating to those living with a disability that affects major life activities so they can enjoy the same right of access as those without a disability. 

The Center for Disease Control found that 61 million Americans reported having a disability, with the CDC classifying disabilities in categories that include mobility, vision, hearing, cognition, independent living, and self-care.

It’s important that your business be compliant with the numerous web accessibility laws and policies currently in effect – failure to do so could land your business in hot water. For instance, if your business is public-facing, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires it to comply with web accessibility guidelines. 

Without accessibility features, your business may be in violation of anti-discriminatory regulations, and thus could face potential lawsuits from the ADA and other overseeing bodies. Lack of accessibility also means a potential hit to your brand’s reputation, and could very well mean that your business loses a sizable portion of its customer base.

Why is web accessibility important?

The digital marketplace is being relied on more and more each year, with consumers increasingly making purchases or conducting research about future purchases online. Many of these people have disabilities, and without accessibility, wouldn’t be able to properly access or use online services to make purchases and conduct research in the same way that those without disabilities do. 

Any business that deals with members of the public should focus on making their website as accessible as possible to ensure that all users and potential customers are able to reasonably access, use, and enjoy the products and services your company offers.

The principles of web accessibility

In order to help make your website compliant, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines have published principles on how to improve your web content. These principles state that content needs to be perceivable to all users, operable for all users across different browsers and devices, organized in an understandable way, and robust in that it can be integrated with assistive technology solutions used by people with disabilities.

The accessibility laws and policies that may currently affect your business include:

21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA)

Enacted in 2010, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 outlines ways in which businesses can make web content more accessible to those with a wide range of disabilities, providing additional telecommunications protections to people living with disabilities. Most notably, the CVAA states that products and services using Broadband must be fully accessible to those with disabilities, and people with disabilities should be able to view video programming on TV and the internet.

Air Carrier Access Act of 1986

As of 2013, the Air Carrier Access Act states that airline websites and automated kiosks must be accessible to passengers with disabilities in order for them to be able to finalize travel arrangements, make reservations, check in for their flights, and more.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended

Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that Federal Government agencies and tech providers which sell to them must ensure that all information and communications technology developed is accessibility to people with disabilities to ensure that federal employees can have comparable access and use of these solutions as those without disabilities.

Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996

Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was enacted to ensure that manufacturers and service providers of telecommunications equipment make their products and services readily accessible to people with disabilities where access is readily achievable. Where it isn’t achievable, applicable manufacturers and service providers must make their products and services compatible with technology solutions used by people with disabilities.

Section 504 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended

Section 504 of the US Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits programs which receive federal financial assistance from discriminating against people with disabilities. Section 504 was created to protect children and adults with disabilities from being excluded or receiving unequal treatment in the workplace, at school, or in the community.

Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended

Section 504 of the US Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires Federal agencies to make all electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities, applying to any agency involved in the development, procurement, maintenance, or use of electronic and information technology.

Ensuring that your website, products, and services are compliant with accessibility laws, policies and regulations is critical for ensuring that your business is inclusive to everybody. All users and customers should be able to interact with, use, and enjoy the products and services offered by your business.

ion8 is an all-in-one business consultancy with a full team of technology and communications experts with the skills and regulatory knowledge needed to make your business compliant and accessible to people with disabilities. For more information about the many ways that ion8 can transform the way you do business, contact us today.