When it comes to your website, odds are good that you may have forgotten about a critical metric: Ensuring access for all. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that all public spaces be accessible to anyone, regardless of their handicap, and this absolutely includes websites. Fortunately, there are many ways to test and ensure that your website can be accessed by anyone, regardless of any handicap from which they may suffer.
What is Accessibility Testing?
Accessibility testing is exactly what it sounds like: Testing software will scan your website and ensure that it meets the standards of WCAG compliance. According to Audio Eye, WCAG compliance is, “a set of web standards that aim to make the Internet a more inclusive and accessible space for all.” This means that users which adhere to WCAG compliance have websites that can be easily viewed and operated by anyone.
Accessibility testing ensures that a website meets these ever-evolving standards. It is done as a self-check and can be used to guarantee a website’s accessibility.
Why Should Businesses Perform Accessibility Testing?
While there are many reasons why ensuring compliance with WCAG guidelines is important, they can primarily be broken down into two arguments.
The first is simply legal. The Americans With Disabilities Act was written in order to ensure that all people had access to public spaces, regardless of their disability. It was signed into law in 1990, well before the internet was popular, but a variety of court rulings have held that websites are essentially digital public spaces. This means that reasonable accommodations must be made in order to ensure that people with disabilities have access to websites. Failure to do so could result in a business-facing legal liability.
The second argument is an economic one. Individuals who are handicapped are an untapped market, with businesses often forgetting about the extensive purchasing power of this demographic. It goes without saying that these individuals are more likely to spend their time – and money – on websites that cater to their needs. Accessibility testing can be used to ensure that a website can be properly viewed by all. As such, accessibility testing should be viewed as more than just legal protection: It is also a marketing tool.
How Can Accessibility Testing Be Performed?
Businesses often hear the phrase “testing” and get automatically worried, thinking that such testing will be highly time-consuming and expensive. Thankfully, this is not the case. Accessibility testing is usually just a matter of downloading a piece of software, using it, and implementing its recommendations. More often than not, any website changes that need to be made can be done by your in-house website developer. They are usually not expensive and simply a matter of adding or changing some coding.
Fortunately, testing and ensuring compliance is not a tremendously difficult proposition. There is also no doubt about it: From a legal, moral, and marketing perspective, it is well worth it.