This Startup is a One Cease Resolution for Web sites to Develop into ADA Compliant
One in four American adults – that’s 61 million people – has some form of disability. People with disabilities generally have a hard time using the internet. This is because website owners and businesses with an online presence are not taking the necessary steps to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities.
Domino’s was sued by a blind person who was unable to order food on their website or mobile app. The pizza giant lost the case, which reached the Supreme Court, for violating that person’s rights under the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act), which outlaws discrimination against people with disabilities.
Domino’s wasn’t the only company sued because its online assets were unavailable. In 2019, a total of 2,256 lawsuits regarding website accessibility were filed in federal courts. That number is way lower than it should be. According to the 2020 Web Accessibility Report of the Israeli startup accessiBe, after scanning 10 million SME websites, 98% did not meet the compliance requirements and are therefore exposed to legal disputes.
The case for web accessibility
Providing accessibility for people with disabilities across online assets is not a matter of choice but a legal requirement. Given that a quarter of Americans need help surfing the Internet, it arguably also represents a moral obligation. Ignoring 25% of potential traffic is a bad business decision.
Why are the vast majority of websites inaccessible? Why are so many companies risking legal action against them and not offering equal access to their websites?
A couple of reasons come to mind. First, enabling accessibility seems complex, time consuming, and expensive. Second, many small and medium-sized businesses think that lawsuits are only directed against mega-brands. Third, website owners choose one-click accessibility solutions that promise, but actually don’t deliver, compliance, so that the website can believe it is accessible when in fact it isn’t. And finally, a lack of awareness. That’s a little annoying; No brick and mortar business with stairs is unaware of the need for a wheelchair ramp, so online businesses should clarify their obligations as service providers.
Why current solutions don’t offer real web accessibility
The Internet accessibility market has been dominated by two opposing solutions. On the one hand, some service companies offered manual reviews and fixes for websites, which involved a lengthy and expensive solution. The second solution consisted of instant and inexpensive accessibility widgets that were installed on websites with the push of a button. Unfortunately, none of these solutions contain water.
The manual service for audits and corrections is a thorough process carried out by professionals. However, because today’s websites are dynamic and constantly updated, they will become non-compliant in a matter of months, if not weeks.
The accessibility widgets, on the other hand, offer a very limited solution. Here’s why: WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), the international standard for web accessibility created by W3C (The World Wide Web Consortium), sets out the pros and cons of accessing websites. 70% of the guidelines relate to screen reader and keyboard navigation compatibility. Screen Reader is software that is used by blind and visually impaired people. Keyboard navigation enables people with motor disabilities to prevent them from using the mouse to surf the Internet. These guidelines are adjusted at the code level of the website. The other 30% of the guidelines deal with the user interface and appearance, and are primarily aimed at users with cognitive disabilities. Accessibility widgets solve most of the UI and appearance guidelines, but none of the compatibility issues with screen readers and keyboard navigation.
AI + Automation guarantees continuous accessibility on the Internet
accessiBe, a Tel Aviv-based startup, realized the real and desperate need for an internet accessibility solution that was both affordable and fully compliant. The answer they found is AI – a proprietary engine that scans and fixes websites for accessibility issues, and basically mirrors the manual process of reviewing and correcting them. Only accessiBe completes the entire process in 48 hours, compared to the months it would take for manual service, and offers its solution at an affordable price.
Your AI engine continues to scan websites every 24 hours. If new accessibility issues arise when companies update their websites with new content, they are resolved immediately. This continuous review ensures that websites are still accessible. This is a major profit point for online businesses. With accessiBe, websites can then set accessibility to “autopilot” so that companies have less to worry about.
Companies with an online presence are obliged to give everyone equal access. The accessibility of their website for people with disabilities should be a top priority for companies.
How accessible is YOUR website?
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.