On May 27, 2020 we held a virtual masterclass event that brought together top legal minds from across North America for an engaging discussion on the state of digital accessibility. We were thrilled to have Eve Hill, Partner at Brown, Goldstein & Levy and former Department of Justice Civil Rights attorney lead the discussion and provide us with an incisive look at ADA laws and what’s happening in the digital accessibility landscape. Below we highlight a few takeaways from the event.

1. Web accessibility is still a huge problem

WebAIM recently completed a study analyzing one million homepages for accessibility issues and the results are jarring: 98.1% of homepages had automatically detectable WCAG 2.0 failures, while some of the most popular websites in the US had an average of 60+ accessibility errors. With an estimated 300 new websites created every minute, that’s a huge opportunity to encounter accessibility issues, and without action, the widen will only deepen.

2. Yes, accessibility applies to you

No matter if you’re a B2B or B2C organization, global corporation or small business, if you have a digital presence, you must be accessible. That means all communications — from websites, and emails, to videos and apps. You never know who is engaging with your brand and your content, but you must be sure everyone can engage equally.

3. ADA lawsuits are on the rise — preparation is your best defense

More than 11,000 ADA Title III lawsuits were filed in 2019, an 8.8% increase from 2018. With COVID-19 creating a digital-everything world, we can expect to see lawsuits increase as more and more people are forced to go online to access the products and services they need. Don’t wait for an ADA demand letter to land on your desk — become accessible now and avoid wasting thousands in legal fees later.

4. Accessibility improves things for everyone

If you believe becoming digitally accessible will only benefit a small group of people, you’d be wrong. Think of curb cuts — these were put in place primarily to help people with disabilities, but they make life easier for everyone (parents pushing strollers, travelers with suitcases, etc.) — the same can be said about digital accessibility. Closed captioning allows all users to enjoy a video when and where they want, great color contrast makes it easier for everyone to navigate your website. Digital accessibility elevates experiences for all of us.

5. Quick fixes don’t cut it

Overlays, widgets, and other shortcuts might be tempting, but they’ll only set you up for accessibility and compliance problems down the road. These ‘band-aid’ fixes are superficial solutions — they don’t make the code changes required to truly improve accessibility, so the second something on your website changes, you’re at risk once again. Take the time to do things right and you won’t just open your digital properties to more people, you’ll properly safeguard your business from risk.

6. Digital accessibility is good for business

According to W3C, the organization who sets the standards on digital accessibility, “businesses that integrate accessibility are more likely to be innovative, inclusive enterprises that reach more people with positive brand messaging that meets emerging global legal requirements.” What’s more, a 2019 Cone/Porter Novelli study found that people want to do business with companies that show they care:

  • 86% of people would purchase products and services from that company
  • 1% would support that company in their community
  • 70% would want to work for that company
  • 64% would want to invest in that company

Learn more about the benefits of accessibility in our infographic.

7. Accessibility vendors make compliance easy

Determining accessibility can be tricky — fixing issues and becoming compliant can be trickier. Accessibility vendors make it simple. They know what to look for, how to make necessary fixes, and can get you to a good baseline in a fraction of the time it would take to do it on your own. They’ll also educate your internal team on how to maintain accessibility and compliance so it becomes a core part of your processes moving forward. Working with a vendor also prevents you from having to take an employee off their day-to-day tasks, allowing you to continue focusing on running your business as usual. If you could do it alone, you would have done it already. Let an accessibility vendor get you there quicker.

8. There is no reason not to

Doing the right thing won’t just ensure your digital properties are equally accessible to everyone, it also boosts your brand image, increases SEO, and produces a more robust website with higher quality code. Talk about a win-win-win. And don’t forget all the talented job candidates you could attract by ensuring they’re able to engage and interact with your content. There really is no reason to delay.

9. When companies care, results come quick

From her extensive experience in the digital accessibility space, there is one thing Eve knows for sure: when companies prioritize accessibility, results happen fast. Think of the response to COVID-19 — most companies reacted in days, issuing communications that highlighted how they would continue to meet the needs of customers while keeping everyone safe. Approaching digital accessibility with the same urgency can get you compliant in less time that you think. Partner with a trusted vendor and get there even faster — you just have to decide to do it.

In summary, digital accessibility and compliance requirements are not going away — if anything, they will only become more critical in the coming months. Don’t wait until it’s too late to address compliance — get started today. Request a demo and let us show you how our comprehensive Accessibility-as-a-Service platform will enable your organization to create and maintain an inclusive web, mobile, and product experience that offers equal access for everyone, while mitigating legal risk.