Digital accessibility is everyone’s responsibility. Revised Section 508 Standards of the Rehabilitation Act say that when people make content, they must make sure it meets those standards. This is especially true for people who write for the federal government. The information on websites run by the government is meant to be available to everyone. Unaccessible content keeps stakeholders and maybe even the people who need the information the most from getting to it. Here are some non-exhaustive lists of the benefits of making things accessible and the possible drawbacks of not conforming.
The Benefits of Digital Access
Overcome Access Barriers
In a world that is becoming more and more digital, it is becoming more and more important to be able to get information. It is important to make sure that websites and other digital resources can be used by everyone, no matter their ability or disability so that everyone can get the same information.
There are many ways to make sure that people can use your website or another digital resource. Some of the most important things to remember are to make sure that your site can be used with just a keyboard, to give alternate text for images, and to make sure that screen readers can use your site.
By making sure your website or other digital resource is accessible, you help level the playing field and give everyone the same chance to use the information available.
Increased Customer Base and General Customer Experience
One in four adults in the US has a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Making sure your content is accessible makes it easier for people to use your services and products and get information in general. This will probably increase the number of times and ways your information is used, as well as make it easier for your customers to use your products.
Better Usability for All Users
Many changes made to meet the needs of users with disabilities actually make the site easier to use for all users, not just those with disabilities. You might not know that something you use every day is part of digital accessibility.
It’s important to make sure that hyperlinks accurately describe the content they lead to for people who use screen readers. However, it’s also important to tell all users what they might see if they click on the same link. A second example is when a data table or alternative text is added to a chart to help all users better understand the data, and make it easier for them to use and share the exact data (instead of having to try to pull the data points out of the chart), and help communicate data when charts are complicated or just hard to read.
Digital Accessibility Regulations
As far as we know, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has not officially added digital accessibility to the ADA criteria. Instead, it sticks to its long-held view that this issue is covered by the ADA.
But the problem of digital access can be used to make other laws better. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 says that federal departments and agencies must try in good faith to give information to people with disabilities in ways that are just as easy to use. If they can’t do that, they have to give people with disabilities another way to get to the data and information that these information systems provide. Access to facilities must be the same for people with and without disabilities.
The Communications Act of 1934 was changed in 2010 by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CCVA), which added new rules to make sure that modern technology is accessible to people with disabilities. Title II of the bill lists the number of requirements for making TVs, TV services, TV programs, and streaming video accessible. Title I of the bill lists the requirements for making “advanced” telecommunications products and services accessible.
Directive (EU) 2016/2102, which was passed in 2016, gave the European Union its own rules about accessibility. This made sure that all EU countries had the same rules. A directive is a piece of EU law that says what the end goal should be but lets each member state decide how to get there.
What Happens if You Don’t Follow the Rules?
If content creators don’t follow accessibility standards, it can hurt them in a number of ways, including making it harder for people to get to their content, making it less useful, and making the customer experience worse.
In the last ten years, there have been more lawsuits about people not meeting their Section 508 obligations. By following the 508 examples, agencies can avoid lawsuits and the bad things that can come from them (fines, bad press, loss of support and/or favor with the public, etc.).
To meet Section 508 standards, it is often necessary to completely rebuild goods and content that are not accessible. This adds to costs, extra work, and waste. This extra work costs time and money, annoys content producers and creators, lowers productivity, slows down the delivery of programs and projects, and hurts the organization’s reputation with stakeholders. If you want to buy something that is hard to get, you might have to ask for more bids and make more purchases. This would cost more and take longer to deliver.
Users with disabilities may have to find other ways to meet their needs if you don’t meet them consistently, and users without disabilities may decide not to use your services.
Also, if your accommodations aren’t good enough, your disabled employees may not be able to do their jobs as well as they could. This would probably make it hard to keep such a wide range of talented people. Studies show that having a diverse group of employees improves the results of a business overall, especially when it comes to planning. Also, you might not be able to hire qualified disabled people at all if your hiring process uses inaccessible candidate interfaces, papers, forms, etc.
As more businesses realize how important it is to hire people from different backgrounds and serve a wide range of customers, they need a standard, consensus-based way to grow. People with disabilities aren’t served well if an agency has a history of buying or making accessible digital solutions in the wrong way. Businesses are also less likely to make accessible goods and services regularly if an agency has a history of buying or making accessible digital solutions in the wrong way.
It’s important for your business to meet digital accessibility standards. But it’s a big job as well. You might not even know where to start or how digitally accessible you are now. Our team of experts at QualityLogic can look at your current systems and processes and give you a free consultation. We can work together to make a plan that works for you. Visit www.qualitylogic.com, our site where you can find out more.