Urgent: A Need for Accessibility

Meeting the needs of people with disabilities and impairments in how you present your website is becoming increasingly important. In the last few years, there has been a growing precedent for websites to adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and reach a level of AA conformance.

This is a complicated issue as there are legal implications and increasing liability in having a website that does not conform. Without unpacking the complexity of this, it’s important to know and understand that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does have clauses related to websites.

The urgency is that there are a number of lawyers profiteering off of the growing demand for this conformance by threatening lawsuits seeking quick settlements or actually proceeding with legal filings and serving businesses. This becomes extremely costly and damaging.

Although it is our belief that every business should invest in an inclusive website experience, we do not agree with these attacks on businesses under the guise of advocacy.

Nonetheless, we have seen our clients and many others being threatened or sued and in many cases by the same law firm. No business is too small and no industry is off limits. It does not matter if you are reaching out to retail customers or offering professional services. We do not like to sell services on the basis of threat but we certainly have a responsibility to warn you. This is escalating.

Unfortunately, reaching this standard is not an easy task or a “standard,” especially for established or aging websites. Producing an accessible website is generally best accomplished from the start of a new website project so that it can be a factor during the entire production process. Accessibility has an impact on the design, development and content strategy behind a website. Most significantly, there is a rigorous testing process to assure optimal conformance.

Although producing a new website should have this consideration, its certainly understandable that this is not an option for many at this time. Yet, there is a sense of urgency to start addressing this requirement in an existing website. The following are steps recommended to reach conformance, aside from creating a new website:

1) The easy win: Purchase and install Accessibe

Inverse Paradox has partnered with Accessibe to offer their automated ADA & WCAG compliance solution on websites. This tool starts at $500/annual and resolves a few of the immediate issues found on a website. In addition, according to research performed by Accessibe, visibility of their tool on websites has deterred these legal threats and has directly attributed to quick resolution of existing cases. This is a starting point but certainly not a magic wand that resolves all issues.

To sign up for Accessibe visit https://accessibe.com/a/ddkutxa.

Additionally, for existing clients, Inverse Paradox can perform the installation and assist you in the setup of an Accessibility policy page by submitted a request to [email protected].

2) Perform a Site Audit

Since no two websites are alike and the size, age, and complexity of a website can vary, an investment into a comprehensive audit of a website should be made. This audit includes:

  • Review of website for WCAG 2.1 AA standards
    • Performed using 3 automated testing tools
    • A manual review of the website using screen readers by trained and specialized developer
    • User testing with a blind user (optional)
  • Report of findings delivered in PDF format which includes both outlined issues and recommend design, development and content changes.
  • Recommendations for remediation strategy.
  • Hour-long presentation & meeting to discuss and review findings.
  • Training session for ADA-compliant website management practices if poor site management practices are identified.

The audit will also present cost estimates for Inverse Paradox to provide remediation of any identified deficiencies.

Site audits start at $2000 and take as little as 2-weeks to complete.

3) Remediation

Following the site audit, with approval of a remediation plan and cost estimate, Inverse Paradox will address all of the identified deficiencies to assure the website adheres to WCAG 2.1 AA conformance standards. 

Following completion of the activities, the website will be thoroughly reviewed and tested, repeating many of the steps in the audit to assure optimal conformance. 

Although Inverse Paradox seeks to deliver the best possible experience to all users of your website, because disabilities and impairments are human conditions, there is no such thing as a guarantee or 100%. The objective is to deliver the optimal experience to the largest number of users and make a commitment to continuously improve as understanding, technology, and capabilities advance.

4) Routine Audits 

Even if your website has been designed and developed to conform to WCAG 2.1 AA standards or you go through this process, we strongly recommend re-auditing the website at least once per year. Costs of auditing and then remediating any newly identified issues annually after establishing a strong foundation for accessibility will be cheaper with routine activity.

To learn more about accessibility or these options, contact us.

If you happen to be in the unfortunate position that a claim is being made against you, starting this process immediately can help aid in reducing the impact of the claim or deter escalation. Inverse Paradox can not offer legal advice and any practices and policies should be reviewed by an attorney. Should you need an attorney with knowledge and experience with these issues, we would be happy to refer you to an attorney we’ve worked with.