There is Still Work to be Done on Digital Accessibility

by | Dec 16, 2022

While strides have been made in the world of digital accessibility, only a little less than 3% of the web is fully accessible to people of all abilities.

It has reached a point where the Department of Justice issued their first web accessibility guidance in over 10 years. The goal of releasing the guidance was to remind people and businesses of all sizes that they need to accommodate people of all abilities with their digital content. 

With over 97% of websites still having accessibility errors like low contrast text and missing written descriptions of images, failing to meet the basic Website Content Accessibility Guidelines is essentially a standard in the United States. 

There are lots of reasons why businesses still are not prioritizing website accessibility. In this blog, we will cover some of the pitfalls with the goal of helping to shed light on the issue and hopefully start to expedite the move to expanded website accessibility.

Reason #1: Lack of Clarity Around Legal Stipulations and Requirements

Discrimination based on disability is prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act but when this law was enacted, the internet was not a large part of our everyday lives. Website accessibility discrimination cases are decided on a case-by-case basis now. This makes standardizations difficult and very messy. Because there are no hard and fast guidelines set out, businesses don’t really know where to start when it comes to cleaning up their website accessibility.

The new DOJ guidance somewhat clarifies the guidelines, but it is still obscure. The guidance reaffirmed that website accessibility is required from any business “open to the public.” This means that essentially all public facing businesses must make their website content and services accessible to people who rely on assistive technologies to browse the internet.

Unfortunately, the guidance does not specify how website content should be handled between businesses with physical locations and online only locations. Much is still left up to interpretation so it is hard for any business to figure out exactly “how” they need to be digitally compliant. 

Reason #2: The Ever-Changing Internet

Websites are constantly changing. Whether it is to accommodate user actions and preferences, new content creation, or changing search engine dynamics, keeping websites accessible on top of all of that is a more than full time job.

With every change, the accessibility must be tweaked. Posing an ongoing challenge to website managers.

Recent data shows that about 80% of businesses have at least three severe accessibility issues that could impact how assistive technology works on the site. With almost 250,000 sites launched every day across the internet and changes being made to websites every day, there needs to be a website accessibility solution to scan for and catch these errors and issues in real time. 

Automation can help here, but it cannot solve all the problems. 

Reason #3: Technology Gaps and Limits 

At the moment, the best website accessibility tools can catch about 70% of accessibility errors and out of that 70%, the tools can resolve about 75% of them. Current tools cannot solve complex accessibility issues that require some degree of human interpretation and judgment. 

For example, accessibility tools can tell you if an image is missing alt text, but they cannot evaluate if that alt text is meaningful and descriptive enough. While many accessibility errors can be fixed and identified with tools, there will likely always be some degree of human intervention needed.

What’s the Solution?

In the short term, using a mix of accessibility tools and human intervention is your best bet. Doing everything you can to make your website and services accessible to the most people benefits both you and the consumer in the long term. 

Make sure to stay up to date on changes and enhancements to website accessibility so you can pivot and make changes where necessary.

If you are struggling with where to start, the team at Simple Built can help. Website accessibility is a key priority for every website we build, and we can help you navigate the ever changing landscape. Want to learn more and get started? Contact us today!

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