58 million American adults are reportedly living with some form of disability, which could be either visual, cognitive or mobility; that restricts their lifestyle in one way or another.
Amidst this, they must figure out a way to survive the daily routine — a way to cope with the unforgiving-demanding landscape that is not shaped to accommodate their problems.
One such area is the digital marketplace, challenging to navigate for even the able experts, imagine how hard it would be on a person struggling with some form of disability. Customer experience is often viewed from the narrow hole of convenience to your average customer.
What was earlier limited to physical workplaces, has now gone beyond and extends to digital businesses as well. So, if you have some presence online, then you’ll have to go down this road.
The growing needs of disabled people are what brought into effect the ADA Compliance Law. To promote the principle of inclusivity and to make eCommerce websites more disabled friendly.
Accessibility lawsuits have surged since 2015, growing at an alarming rate as people start to see the importance of ADA in the digital space, which then traps the brand in some judicial litigation matter.
Trim out the user experience, for not just your usual audience but also for the ones who have limited abilities — a step to unite all masses without prejudice or social bias. Adequate measures taken to ensure everyone regardless of any trauma are given the buying power on an online portal.
How do you then go about it without compromising the essence of your website? Firstly, let’s see what exactly the ADA Compliance law is and find out in detail what it holds.
What is Disability?
American Disability Act (ADA) defines disability in a person, as anyone who has “physical or mental impairment that considerably limits one or more major life activity.” Also includes individuals who do not have a weakness but are regarded as having a disability.
Anything physical could be visual (blindness, low vision, and color blindness), muscular issues, Parkinson’s disease, hearing impairment, epileptic seizures and so on. Mental impairment could be dyslexia, problem-solving, cognitive disabilities, etc.
Accessibility would, therefore, mean providing products and services for everyone. Show the social responsibility to provide for every site visitor. And for business groups, this would most certainly increase their brand value.
ADA Compliance Law
The UN convention of the “Rights of Persons with Disability” defines accessibility or access to information, including the web as a human right. Most countries have sanctioned this and adopted restrictive policies as well.
ADA makes accessibility online a necessary legal requirement for all establishments, be it on the internet or otherwise. No person, because of his physical or mental condition should feel discriminated in any manner.
An online store is ADA compliant if it meets specific criteria laid out in the ADA act, specifically regarding the amendments created in 2010 called “ADA Standards for Accessible Design.”
Within ADA, the Title III provision directs the businesses to make reasonable modifications to their policies and infrastructure, so the disabled can become a part of their online ventures.
Even though ADA doesn’t explicitly bring up eCommerce businesses, most courts believe websites are also accountable, and in the absence of any clear rules, violations are bound to be many and vague.
The law makes it mandatory for all brands operating online to bring their services in par with this regulation or face legal consequences. Find a way to make your site accessible for people with disabilities. Ensure all accessibility elements are configured and working correctly.
The Web Accessibility Initiative, which was started by bringing people from all fronts, to develop guidelines and resources to help make the web accessible for people with cognitive, physical, and other disabilities.
All this was taken up to further the disability cause, and implement, promote, and review guidelines and resources; in the interest of people who have any sort of disability. In the process give them the access, they were deprived of all this while.
All websites need to get a better understanding of the ADA framework, which to a lot of companies exists in the form of Web Accessibility Guidance, follow the same and gain an insight into the laws and policies that govern the fair use of the internet for disabled.
The web has radically changed its course in recent years, to remove barriers for anyone less able to function on such websites. The only thing that remains to be done is for the businesses to come out and implement assistive applications, technologies, and tools immediately.
Accessible websites have healthier search results, low maintenance costs, and increased audience reach, among other benefits. So, why sit back, fire your resources into building something more disabled friendly.
What needs to be done?
Inclusivity is central to creating a gripping customer experience, a lousy in-equipped website that drags will inadvertently create higher bounce rates. Thus, it is paramount that every eCommerce site follows the below set of guidelines to make their business more disability centric.
- Perspective - View your eCommerce site from the standpoint of a disabled person, to better understand their needs.
- Alternative text - Elements such as images, text boxes and check boxes should contain the same, to be read aloud by Screen Readers and used by Search engines. Include this using Content Management Systems and Code Editors; either automatically or as help from the author.
- Type - The content displayed should be perceivable – see the content or hear it, operable – by typing or by voice, understandable and robust to allow the use of different assistive technologies.
- Guide – Put together a guide, that can serve as an instructional booklet for people trying to access the website — technical know-how that can help them navigate the site.
- Errors – Put specific crystal-clear error messages that convey the issue with enough clarity - a move that could prevent confusion and indecisive moments.
- Naming - Follow proper naming conventions and make sure your headlines, titles, and copy are comprehensible.
- Elements – Ensure the details on any webpage are structured correctly. Headers are correctly tagged in HTML. Appropriate column and row headings are applied everywhere.
- Captions – Hearing-impaired shoppers could benefit from readable texts. Provide a text transcript and make the audio accessible, a relatively inexpensive process to simplify browsing sessions for people with diverse abilities.
- Forms – Any required fields on a form should be labeled with “Required” and not just a symbol. Assistance along these lines helps them even more.
- Keyboard – Make sure the navigation is consistent throughout the website. All the actions a user can take can be accomplished using a keyboard. An “accessible” site doesn’t rely on a mouse; it makes all functionality available from a keyboard.
- Action – Make sure all the call to action buttons are placed neatly. Work on the visibility of every button that "takes a decision" to ensure they are clearly labeled.
- Applications - Web browsers, media players and all other supporting platforms need to also be in sync with web accessibility.
- Skip – Include a “Skip to main content” option, so that it can be reached without much navigation. An option that would allow the disabled to go directly to the concerned page.
- Color Schemes – Websites should have adequate color contrast to make it usable for people with color blindness and low vision.
Ecommerce companies should make accessibility a priority going ahead. You don’t want to be that company which gets served an ADA suit.
Whatever is the design ecosystem of your eCommerce site, with the emergence of ADA you’ll have to bring the disability changes and integrate them, at the earliest.
The last thing you want is court cases that waste time, tarnish your reputation, take up resources and add to the growing expenses. Wake up and come to terms with the ADA buzz in society. The disabled won’t settle for less and will go after you if you don’t comply.
Address their concerns; what troubles them, limits their experience and take up an initiative to solve those issues. Make differently abled part of your digital community and keep them in the loop for all your plans.
Don’t just create a site for an ideal user- one with all the senses and physical abilities intact. Incorporate and activate features on your website that makes assistive technologies work for the less abled.
Expand your reach and draw the group of people who are otherwise restricted by conventional shopping standards. Your revenue can soar if they too start relying on you for shopping needs.
In the end, you want to avoid potential lawsuits, fines, settlements and any other kind of scrutiny. Make your website disability compatible, an action that might enhance your status and bring you splendid returns in the long run. After all, the disabled are eager consumers as well waiting to be acknowledged.
If you are unsure about the extent to which your site is compatible with accessibility norms or wish to style and “ADA Proof” your website, then get in touch with the testing experts at Virtina.
As consultants and developers, we will take you through the course, of being able to understand better, how you can integrate your site with the vital disability checks; in turn, giving you a site that caters to the requirements of the less able with ease.
Enhance your eCommerce website user experience today!