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How to Protect My Small Business Against Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Lawsuits

April 26, 2019

The Web Content Accessibility Guide was created in an attempt to better provide content on the internet that meets the needs of a variety of people, particularly more accessible to those with disabilities. The latest version (as of June 5, 2018) of the document, WCAG 2.1, currently has 12 guidelines that are divided between several categories: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. In terms of making websites compatible with WCAG, there are three priority levels: A, AA, and AAA. These get more in-depth and nitpicky as you go up in conformance level.

Why You Should be WCAG Compliant

Companies who choose to do business online have the responsibility to make their website accessible to everyone. This means that you ensure that those with different disabilities can still fully enjoy the user experience. Think of this like public locations being ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant and providing wheelchair accessible seating or ramps. Your website should be the same way. This is important because your website will be fully usable and catered to any user. Some of these guidelines include ensuring the clarity of the site does not solely rely on color or that markup and style sheets are included and properly used. In addition, not following the WCAG means you’re more likely to be hit by a lawsuit due to the inability for someone to use your site because you did not consider their need. With this said, there are only a few lawsuits currently linked to the lack of WCAG compliance, and they’re against the internet giants. The goal of adopting WCAG-friendly sites is to take precautions in case law firms start to target the smaller shops.

Nowadays, getting to a 100% compliance level while fully following the guidelines is nearly impossible. Large companies tend to aim for a 95% compatibility with the guide. In addition, the version most attainable for companies and considered as the future standard for internet giants is the WCAG 2.0 AA. This requires more time and money to achieve, however, your percentage of success for making it accessible will be greater. Now here’s the good news, there a few different precautions you can take to ensure your website is accessible to the different audiences.

Ways to Prevent a Lawsuit

First of all, if you’ve designed your website to be search engine friendly, you’ve likely already taken good strides in the right direction. By focusing on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) when creating your site, you’ve ensured Google can easily read through your site which will also make it easier for web accessibility tools. For a system to easily examine a site, the information must be quite thorough for everything you include (from the web pages to actual tables and images inserted).

Law firms want to know that you’ve attempted at following the guidelines as closely as possible. They also want to know that you are always trying to find ways to improve accessibility. The companies that run into trouble are those that have completely ignored the WCAG or are not open to change upon feedback. Spend a good amount of time to alter your site with the WCAG in mind and always ensure when new content is added, that they comply with these guidelines as well to ensure a higher rating in compliance.

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