96% Chance Your Website Is Not ADA Compliant
The results of the latest report from the WebAIM team at Utah State (makers of the popular WAVE web page accessibility tester) revealed that 96.8% of the top million homepages failed ADA compliance testing. And these didn't just have one or two missing barriers. Each had an average of 51.4 violations. So. If you assume your website is ADA compliant, odds are, it isn’t.
Fact is, unless your website has been properly audited and remediated to conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG 2.1 A, AA), it simply isn’t ADA compliant.
Why ADA Compliance Matters
Legal - Almost all websites are covered by either the ADA or Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. And in addition to legitimate plaintiffs and advocacy groups actively defending web accessibility rights, there is also a throng of trolls seeking easy settlements.
DEI - Diversity, Equity and INCLUSION, includes the rights of people with disabilities to digital inclusion. Nothing has highlighted the value of digital access and the disparity of access better than the pandemic, when the world turned inward to the Web for nearly everything.
Opportunity - Not only are there 61M people with a disability in the US, but also consider the 71M boomers who carry $548B in discretionary spending and who also share similar challenges with vision, hearing, cognition and fine motor skills.
Quick Tips for ADA Website Compliance
Accept that this is a new cost of doing business online. And realize that in pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion, investing in digital inclusion is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to DEI. There is value in that, and in accessing a marketplace with over a billion consumers world-wide.
Automated Tools Miss 70% of WCAG Issues. So Avoid Overlay Plugin Widgets
Overlay plugins and widgets (which rely solely on automation), may claim to make your website ADA compliant, however these are simply false claims. Industry professionals and accessibility advocates strongly oppose these methods, which have been demonstrated to neither provide the accessibility claimed, nor protection from lawsuits. Lawsuits against companies using overlays are increasing, so that round accessibility icon is becoming a bullseye for trolls. More on this point here.
How to Properly Audit Your Website for ADA Compliance
The more invested in quality reporting upstream will save time and money during remediation.
Unless your development team is unavailable, don’t outsource remediation. It’s important for your team to learn from the process of remediation, and avoid web accessibility issues in the future.
ADA Website Compliance Costs
Making your website ADA compliant starts first with an audit to reveal the violations, followed by remediation, and concluded with a verification audit. That cost will depend on the scale of the website and the extent of issues to be remediated.
Baseline costs for human auditing of a website can start as low as a few thousand dollars. Complex ecommerce websites can reach beyond $20K. Our approach is to be pragmatic and work with the budgets that our clients have. Regardless of what that amount is, start by addressing the top priority issues that impact users the most (and those that trigger lawsuits).
This is a smart investment, so invest what you can.
Given that no brand wishes to unintentionally discriminate against people with disabilities, and given that no brand wants to deal with on-going ADA-related website litigation, this is a wise investment. The temptation is to take short cuts however. And that temptation must be avoided.
Best of luck. Let us help.