Keeping Up With Website Accessibility
Want to know something that’s harder to keep up with than the Kardashians when they’re no longer on E!? Keeping up with website accessibility.
We asked G5 subject matter experts — Ben Steward, VP Revenue, Thomas Lavallee, Sr. Director of Compliance, and Liz Hoffman, Manager of Operational Excellence — to break down the legal and technical landscape of website accessibility to make sure your websites are indeed accessible. Keep reading, or skip ahead and watch the webinar to hear it directly from the source.
Why Website Accessibility?
1. Reach a Wider Audience
Did you know that an estimated 20% of internet and mobile app users experience some type of disability? This number is even higher for seniors and aging populations. So, if you’re not focused on accessibility, you’re essentially leaving up to 20% of your potential customers out of the conversation, and creating a frustrating experience for folks who might be in the grey area of needing more accessibility. Let’s be clear, a frustrated customer is not a happy customer, and isn’t good for your property’s or community’s reputation. To reach a wider audience online, your website needs to be accessible.
2. An Accessible Website Has Better SEO
Having a website built with accessibility in mind has a positive impact on your website’s SEO. If you want your website to rise above the competition in organic traffic, then you need to double down on accessibility, particularly as Google updates their algorithm to showcase websites that provide excellent online customer experiences.
3. Avoid “Surf-By” Lawsuits
You don’t want to get one of the dreaded settlement demand letters, and you do want to avoid website accessibility lawsuits. The lawsuits are expensive, time consuming, and truly not where you want to focus your time and attention. There seems to be a handful of firms who consider website accessibility lawsuits their cash cow, and are really going after businesses in high volume. There were over 3,500 digital accessibility lawsuits filed in the US in 2020 alone, and an additional estimated 250,000+ settlement demand letters sent to website owners.
The Legal Landscape of Website Accessibility
One word for you: confusing. The Federal law is unclear, we still don’t know if the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to websites. Recently, there was a federal court decision that said, no it doesn’t…and there have been others that say yes, it absolutely does. Glad everyone is in agreement.
It’s unclear what you need to do from a legal perspective to meet accessibility requirements, or even if you need to meet them. But, many of these cases reference the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). In the interim, WCAG has become the de facto website accessibility standard, and this is an important acronym to remember. You should double-check that your service provider is meeting, and will stay up-to-date on website accessibility moving forward, as a WCAG update is expected to launch later this year.
The Technical Landscape of Website Accessibility
It’s one thing to talk about the ethos of accessible websites, but it’s another thing to actually make and sustain them long term. This is where a best-in-class MarTech and website provider is your new BFF in future-proofing your online presence. You need to rest assured that your website provider takes this stuff as seriously as you do, and that they’re coding websites to work with screen readers and assistive technology that empowers users to access your website. At G5, we build and test websites using our proprietary content management system, and a variety of industry best practices.
Website Accessibility Is Not a One and Done
Of course, working with a provider to launch an accessible website is a great place to start. But, it’s not enough to be compliant for just the day the website launches. WCAG standards change, technology changes, and websites are updated. It’s vital to have a system in place to keep the focus on website accessibility. To be blunt, you want to make sure you’re working with providers who keep website accessibility top of mind.
Which is why, our G5 Customer Care team works with our clients to make sure the updates they’re requesting align with the need to keep websites accessible, and why we offer services for ongoing website accessibility scans and website updates to meet changing standards along the way. No matter how a website visitor is accessing your website — a desktop computer, a laptop, a cell phone, a screen reader or other assistive technology — you want to know that they’re able to access the information they need in order to rent an apartment, lease a storage unit, or choose a senior living community.
Want your mind blown? Watch the webinar to learn the details about how we test our websites, and the reality behind mitigating your property or community’s risk of “surf-by” lawsuits and settlement demand letters.