The intent of the internet was to democratize information, making news, data, and vast amounts of knowledge available to everyone, everywhere.
For the most part, the spirit of that intent was achieved. People across the globe have access to books, art, and information in an amount never before experienced in human history. Unfortunately, the early days of the web didn’t plan well for certain potential user groups – namely those with disabilities.
Movement toward a more accessible web experience is being made, though. Websites for governmental agencies and business that work with the government are required to be compliant with ADA guidelines for the web thanks to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
While there are currently no specific guidelines or set requirements for other commercial business, it’s clear that the Department of Justice and many courts in the United States see it as the responsibility of a business to make their site usable by the one in four people identified as disabled.
With an average of more than three lawsuits a day related to ADA compliance being filed, companies need to start taking the accessibility of their websites seriously, even if they don’t fall under the Section 508 compliance rules.
What is an Accessibility Scan?
Having your websites and applications scanned is nothing new. Companies regularly have their sites checked by professionals for functionality and security. But an accessibility scan may be something new to you.
An accessibility scan checks your website for adherence to the most commonly defined and acknowledged standards that make a site usable for visitors with disabilities. Currently, there are no minimum guidelines set for what a website must have to be considered accessible. However, the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are widely accepted as the bar that sites should strive for.
There are a number of automated scanners available for organizations that want to get a handle on the amount of work their site might need. Like most scanning and testing, though, automated scanners can only do so much. Most automated scanners will also only tell you what is wrong, not what needs to be fixed or how to do it.
There is a much wider audience with disabilities looking to use the web than companies realize, and with the increasing threat of lawsuits, organizations should consider taking the step beyond a simple automated scan.
A comprehensive scan involves both automated and manual review of a website, as well as a thorough understanding and actionable list of items that must be changed to meet the WCAG standards. While a full scan might seem overwhelming, the result is a prioritized list that can be worked on over time, showing progress and a commitment toward greater accessibility.
Having a web presence that is informative and easy to use is crucial in today’s digital-first world. But it’s important to consider your potential audience – including those who may have alternative needs and means of accessing the web. Knowing what adjustments to make – thanks to a comprehensive accessibility scan – simplifies the process of updating your site to include everyone.
Looking to validate – or update – your site to improve its accessibility? SunNet offers free consultations so you’ll understand exactly what a complete accessibility scan will mean for your organization.
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