No code: Improving Web Accessibility and meeting ADA and WCAG 2.1 compliance standards
9 minutes reading
Over the past decades, Internet has evolved not once or twice to become what we know and use today. From a luxury available in a handful of households to a mandatory (sometimes even life-saving) instrument that today we hold in our hands and use for nearly everything.
Access to information transmitted over the Internet has never been that easy. Yet, it remains an everyday challenge for some groups of individuals experiencing disabilities.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 15% of the world population experience a form of disability. According to a WHO report, the percentage continues rising every year due to:
“aging and an increase in the prevalence of noncommunicable diseases”
But does experiencing a disability mean that one should not enjoy the same Internet browsing experience as everybody else? Like me writing and you reading this article, everyone has the right to receive content and digest it.
It is the responsibility of the website owners to make their websites more accessible to people experiencing disabilities, but that often is a time-consuming and costly task to achieve.
In the following lines of this blog post, we will give you a No-Code alternative that will spare time, achieve ADA and WCAG compliance status, and help potentially millions of visitors with disabilities enjoy and use your website.
What is Web Accessibility, and what problems does it solve?
Web Accessibility defines the collective effort of designers, developers, or other website management staff (by using tools, technologies, and standards) to improve the delivery of website content to people experiencing disabilities.
The moral aspect
Over the past 20 years, Internet availability has grown exponentially. The percentage of people using the Internet in age 50-64 increased to 96%, and in the group 65+, it reached 75% in the USA. (source)
Older people are more susceptible to disabilities, according to research conducted in the USA in 2018. Nobody is immune to aging because this is not a disease but the normal flow of time. Eventually, we all will reach an age where we might experience a temporary or permanent disability that will affect our ability to digest web content:
- If our hearing is affected and Youtube or Netflix does not have subtitles, will we be able to continue watching our favorite videos or movies?
- If our ability to see is degrading or even lost completely, will we be able to see the menu of our favorite restaurant to order food online?
- Who can guarantee that the next website we browse will not trigger an epileptic seizure in patients with Epilepsy?
That does not sound good, but this is everyday life for some people.
Despite giving an example with the elderly, this is valid for everyone since there are people with disabilities in every age group, no matter the research we will pick. So making your website more Web Accessible today will make the difference for someone tomorrow. Why not even for you?
The business aspect
Having a more Web Accessible website can bring business benefits in marketing, growth, income, and user satisfaction. For example, by being more accessible, your website might benefit from:
- More Traffic
- Better income
- Better SE ranking
- More Brand Awareness
- Decreased Bounce Rate
- More time spent on page
Let’s put this into perspective – In the USA, around 60% of the people experiencing disabilities have access to the Internet from their homes, which potentially makes them a portion of the visitors on yours, ours, and any website available on the Internet and even makes them a potential buyer of your products.
In fact, because often the websites’ owners avoid going the extra mile to make their website more Web Accessible, the US government introduced the ADA (The Americans with Disabilities Act) and WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) standards.
Respectively over the past years, the number of court cases based on these standards has increased, corresponding to the increase in the number of people with disabilities.
What are ADA and WCAG 2 standards?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is older than the Internet. It dates from 1990, and its primary purpose is to prevent discrimination against individuals experiencing disabilities. According to the “US Department of Labor”:
“The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to state and local government’ programs and services. “
The keyword here is “public accommodations.” What was considered a public accommodation in 1990 is today merely such in the sense that we spend more time using apps, websites, and social media to meet people. So the modern public accommodation is the Internet (websites) itself.
Just recently (on March 18, 2022), the US Department of Justice released an article giving general “Guidance on Web Accessibility and the ADA” (link might not work since, by the time of writing, the US Department of Justice had their website updated with a new design). You can imagine for how long there was very scarce information on the matter, and the subject was open for interpretation by lawyers, design agencies, and developers.
The Web Content Accessibility Guideline 2 (WCAG 2) is a standard developed and published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) “in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world.” Its goal is to provide a standard that everyone can follow when achieving web accessibility, meeting the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally.
Well documented and easy to digest, this standard is so widely used that it is the de-facto standard for web accessibility today. Although not officially legislated, the requirements set in this standard are often used for lawsuits against website owners and were being used by the Department of Justice not once or twice. So this is something that should be on top of your list when building your website.
What are the consequences of not being ADA compliant?
According to UsableNet, in 2017, the number of lawsuits against websites not ADA compliant was around 814. For just one year, that number tripled, and in 2018, the number of cases reached more than 2200 — a substantial increase in just one year. Of course, this number does not even scratch the surface as it does not include the ADA legal complaints and demand letters. That trend continues even today, with hundreds of thousands of cases.
The fines for not being ADA compliant can go up to $75 000 for a single ADA violation and increase up to $150 000 for any additional violations. That is pretty substantial for Small Businesses and, depending on the number of violations, can be crippling for even Large businesses.
How to make your website ADA and WCAG compliant?
Making your website compliant means following the outlined standards and implementing these directly on the content, design, structure, and even functionality of the website. However, not everyone is familiar with how these changes should be applied on one’s website since the process requires developers, designers, and content writers. This means you will need to hire the right people, resulting in a separate budget and additional spending. Not to mention the time you will need.
Of course, you can always search for agencies specialized in ADA and WCAG compliance. However, an agency will not charge you less since they do manual service for you.
If you have built your website on top of a platform like WordPress, you can look for a plugin. However, by the time of writing this blog post, no WordPress plugin complies with legislation, handles all the ADA and WCAG requirements, and is free at the same time.
So basically, achieving ADA and WCAG compliances will always cost a portion of your website’s budget. Then, what is the most cost-efficient and most effective method you can put your trust in?
After spending several months looking for the best solution on the market, we have found one service that satisfies all our needs – AccessiBe. We believe that this is the best service for everyone looking to achieve compliance with the most Web Accessibility standards at a fraction of the cost of hiring an agency.
What is AccessiBe, and how does it help with Web Accessibility?
AccessiBe is the only automatic solution on the market. You do not need to adjust anything with it – just install it on your website, and you are ready to comply with all the standards it supports (plug-and-play).
Sounds great, right? Let’s dive a bit deeper and learn how it works!
When installed on your website AccessiBe will work by executing two applications in the user’s web browser. Both of the applications are bundled and delivered thanks to the installed widget on your website.
The first one is the “FOREGROUND APPLICATION“. That application provides a web interface for visitors to select profiles based on their experienced disabilities. Every profile will provide different levels of adjustment to the content and the design of your website. This will fulfill the requirements of the standards for the particular disability experienced by the visitor.
The second one is the “BACKGROUND APPLICATION“. This is AI-powered, machine learning technology that recognizes the elements of your website using contextual understanding and computer vision. It implements back-end code edits required by Screen readers and helps people navigate your website with their keyboards.
As you might have guessed AccessiBe is not a free service. However as we outlined, there is no free service that can help your website achieve ADA and WCAG compliance out of the box, and to be honest, AccessiBe is the best balance between cost and value you can get.
By the time we are writing this post, their cheapest plan comes at $49/month on a Monthy Billing cycle. Should you decide to opt for an Annual Billing cycle the price drops by 20%. So for 1 whole year of service, you will have to pay $490.
Currently, AccessiBe offers four plans based on the number of pages your website has. If you are not sure how to count the pages please consider their explanation of how they count the pages:
“We define a page by a unique URL, not included parameters. Meaning if a page has URL parameters, all of them together is considered one page. To verify page count, type “site:yourwebsite.com” into Google. The number next to “results” is your page count.”
Overall, the pricing is pretty affordable considering how much a whole website rework of Web Accessibility can cost.
Additionally, if you are not certain about the service, AccessiBe also offers a free 7-day trial which will help you explore and evaluate their services.
AccessiBe and HostArmada
After testing AccessiBe we were astonished by how easy-to-implement and how functional their service is. That is why we made it part of our website so any visitor experiencing disability can immediately start using AccessiBe in order to better digest the content and the product that we offer.
- Active Subscription for the AccessiBe service or
- Trial Subscription for AccessiBe service
- Active Web Hosting Service with HostArmada
Our Technical Support Team will happily install the AccessiBe widget on your website or will help you personalize it to the colors and design of your website.
Making our websites more accessible to people experiencing disabilities is undoubtfully a cause we all should embrace. No matter if we choose the moral aspect or the business aspect of the situation, the result will always be the same – improving the quality of life for someone. After all, nobody knows what the future will bring, but we all know that a step in the right direction today can be the difference between success and failure tomorrow.