What is Web Accessibility?

What is website accessibility anyways? You probably went to an elevator one time and you saw braille,those indentations on the elevator buttons that are for blind people ,right?, And maybe you saw ramps at the entrance to buildings or stores for wheelchairs. And I guess a hundred percent of you have seen the wheelchair icons, which are places for people with disabilities to park cars, right? 

 

They're all part of something that is called accessibility. In the United States, accessibility is governed by the Americans With Disability Act, which is ADA for short. And that's basically a set of regulations that govern accessibility. 

 

Before the web, accessibility was about location accessibility. Can a person with a wheelchair enter that store? Is the entrance wide enough? Do they, do they have ramps? Do they have handicapped parking and so on and so forth. 

 

Today, we are in an era where content digestion is in a digital fashion, and everybody wants to enjoy it, whether it's ordering something from an e-commerce store, ordering a pizza, or just reading an article, and people have a lot of disabilities digesting that content. 

 

Everything from a completely blind person who obviously needs the website to be read to them, to somebody that can't move the curser because they have a physical disability with their hands. And they only can use a keyboard to do many other things in between like color blindness.

 

And all that is under website accessibility. We want to make the website accessible to those people with disabilities. 

 

Before 2019, that was not mandatory until October 2019 when the Supreme court ruled that ADA protection applies to websites as well, meaning from October it was a Supreme court ruling and basically the law, if you will, to start making websites accessible in the United States. 

 

And that came after a huge wave of website accessibility lawsuits, which peaked in a Robles versus Domino's Pizza case. 

 

For those of you who don't know that was a big change in the market. Basically, Robles was a blind person who tried to order pizza by using Domino's website. He couldn't because it wasn't accessible. 

 

In case you don't know, a blind person can obtain software that can engage with whatever content is on the computer, reading out to the blind person and allowing the blind person to do voice commands to control the website. Domino’s website was not accessible. It could not communicate with that software. Robles’ lawyer sued Domino's. Domino's lost. Domino's appealed to the Supreme court… lost again!  

 

That really changed everything. There were a few more major lawsuits, but it wasn't just the big pizza places or the big brands that were getting sued. It was also bicycle stores. There was a chain of lawsuits of bicycle stores in California, 15 bike stores in one article, and actually many more were sued one after the other. 

 

You might be thinking… “okay, why would a blind person care about riding a bike?”

 

It's not the fact that the blind person would ride a bike. They probably wouldn't because it's very dangerous, but they might want to buy a bike for their niece, for their daughter, for their nephew, for their husband, for their wife, right? 

 

They want to read up on bikes and they can't.

 

There is a lawsuit that a bicycle company received, that reached out to the solution provider, the technology that we're using to help them. 

 

They got a letter from a lawyer that had this in the body of the letter:


“By way of introduction, this office has been retained to represent a blind Californian and prosecute, a lawsuit against you for violation of the American Disability Act and, uh, the Unruh Civil Rights Act.” 

 

This is a real letter from a lawyer to a poor bicycle store owner that really doesn’t know what to do with it. 

 

The fines can be hefty, but also personal lawsuits can be hefty as well. 

 

We have two issues for business people today that are not making their website accessible.

 

We're talking about any business… it could be a small business. It doesn't have to be Domino's… it could be a bike store. They can be fined by the government under the ADA act up to $75,000 for a signal ADA violation and $150,000 for additional violations. 

 

That's just federal funds. And then they can also be prosecuted like the attorney of the blind person with the bike store.

 

We don’t want that to be you… so get your website made accessible today.