Whether you’re planning to build a new business website or have had your website up and running for several years, you might be wondering: does it legally have to be accessible? In other words, does your business website have to provide the right tools and technologies to visitors with disabilities? All of that and more is discussed in this simple overview for business owners.
Yes — Depending on Where You Operate
It depends a bit on where you operate. Both public and private sector businesses in the UK are legally required to make their websites accessible to disabled people. This is because of the Equality Act (2010), which makes it illegal to discriminate against a variety of different groups, including the disabled. On top of this, the Equality Act makes it so that website must be accessible to all users. This way, no individual is treated unfairly or feels discriminated against.
Outside of the UK, your business website might not legally have to be accessible. It’s entirely dependent on the country. For example, in the US, websites are not explicitly included in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Despite this, though, websites are still considered to be public places, which is why the majority of US websites need to be ADA-compliant in order to avoid legal problems.
If your business website is not currently accessible and therefore needs upgrading, here are some general tips to help make it accessible:
- Use an accessibility widget
- Add alt text to all images and videos
- Enable keyboard navigation
Accessibility widgets are especially popular in the modern era, with countless businesses around the world having now added them to their websites. In simple terms, an accessibility widget is a smart little button that disabled users can click on in order to make changes based on their personal needs, whether it’s increasing the text size or changing the contrast levels. Just by adding a simple accessibility widget to your business website, you can make it a lot more accessible — which is definitely something to be excited about.
What Happens If My Business Website Isn’t Accessible?
If you have an active website that is not accessible, you run the risk of encountering legal problems, such as lawsuits from disabled website visitors if they feel discriminated against.
This is something that happens more often than you think, with a recent example being when a blind plaintiff sued the popular pizza chain Domino’s because its website and mobile app had accessibility issues.
Naturally, you won’t want this to happen to your business, as it could potentially result in big financial losses as well as irreparable damage to your business name. This is why it’s very important to make your website accessible as soon as possible so that you can avoid potential problems like these.
Once your website is officially accessible and ready to go, you can then start to experience the benefits that come with it. This includes attracting more disabled customers, boosting your brand recognition, and increasing your sales numbers.