The beauty product brand Glossier is the latest in a parade of brands who have been sued for accessibility violations on their websites. The visually impaired plaintiff, Kathleen Sypert, claims Glossier violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) by failing to have proper screen reading software on their website. Lawsuits over web accessibility have been increasing.
The ADA is a civil rights law that encourages equal opportunity for all people with disabilities. The law currently applies to physical, brick-and-mortar storefront accessibility; however, the law has not been amended to directly protect web accessibility. A series of recent lawsuits are seeking to change the scope of this law that was created in 1990 when the internet was just beginning to surface.
Sypert claims that Glossier previously denied her the opportunity to utilize the services offered on the website – services enjoyed by people without disabilities – and that they continued to deny her access to those goods and services on a regular basis.
Other megabrands have had similar lawsuits filed against them including J. Crew, Vera Wang, Giorgio Armani, Perry Ellis, and Versace. Most have settled out of court and have promised to add accessibility to their websites for the visually and hearing impaired.
The attorney in most of these cases, Thomas Bacon, argues that websites are part of the public domain, and everyone, including those with audio and visual impairments, should have access. Bacon reasons that since most of the sites were designed and created after the ADA became law in 1990, there is really no reason for them not to be accessible.
The Divi builder’s massive growth can be attributed to it’s ease of use in building beautiful websites. But that growth has also put the spotlight on some initial accessibility issues that were not part of the initial design. Quickly realizing the oversight, CampusPress introduced the Divi Accessibility plugin. Bear in mind, no single plugin or script can bring a website into compliance with the ADA, but it’s a step in the right direction. Here are a few major features of the plugin.
ARIA Support: One feature of Divi Accessibility is the addition of ARIA attributes to the Divi elements and modules. The ARIA code is also added in the Tab module. This is good for screen reader users.
Dropdown Keyboard Navigation: Another important feature is the drop-down keyboard navigation, which allows users to more easily navigate the Divi drop-down menus with the keyboard.
Fix Labels: This option fixes missing labels and assignments to corresponding inputs.
Focusable Modules: Without Divi Accessibility, the theme’s toggles and accordions aren’t accessible for screen reader or keyboard-only users. Instead, these devices skip over these tools. The accessibility feature makes Toggles and Accordions focusable, just like it would be for any mouse user.
Divi Accessibility’s other options include improvements in these areas:
Designing your website with accessibility in mind can be a daunting task, especially since there are so many options for making a website accessible. To get started, consider these basic design features, which meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Associate a label with every form control: Labels help readers understand the required input for the form field. Create labels by using a for attribute on the <label> element linked to the IDattribute of the form element or by using WAI-ARIA attributes.
Include Alternative Text for Images: Alternative text describes images to viewers (and search engines). Include alternative text for informational and functional images. Decorative images should have empty text alternatives.
Identify Page Language and Language Changes: Identify page language and language changes of every page by using the lang attribute in the html tag.
Use Markup to Convey Meaning and Structure: Using the right mark-up for headings, lists, tables, and more will improve the structure of your content.
Help Users Avoid and Correct Mistakes: If your website will include forms, plan on including clear instructions, messages, and notifications to assist with completing forms. It also helps to give specific explanations, corrections, and to provide a very forgiving format.
Other helpful tips for designing your website with accessibility in mind include:
having the reading order match the logical order of the information presented
helping the user understand nonstandard interactive elements
If your business website offers products, services, information, entertainment, or serves other purposes, it is extremely important for you to consider updating the website to adhere to appropriate accessibility guidelines. Not doing so could negatively affect and even penalize your business. Below are four important reasons on why making your website accessible is a smart business decision.
Reduced Customer Loyalty: If you decide against adding accessibility features to your website, one of the worst consequences is a reduction in customer loyalty. Having the lowest prices isn’t enough anymore to drive good business. Customers will pay more if they are buying from a business with values similar to their own. Show your customers you care and they’ll likely respond with increased customer loyalty.
Slower Growth and Expansion: Having website accessibility allows you to reach millions more potential customers around the world. You don’t want to miss out on that, do you?
Potential Lawsuits and Financial Losses: One huge reason to offer website accessibility is to avoid damaging lawsuits. That’s right. You could get sued for not having an accessible website. The number of yearly lawsuits is growing. Recent court rulings have paved the way for accessibility related lawsuits.
Lack of Inclusion: No business owner wants their company to be known as the company that doesn’t consider website accessibility an important issue. It could be detrimental to the reputation of your business. We all know how customers use social media to speak out against a brand. It can get ugly. Making your website accessible and inclusive avoids these issues.
When a page loads on a website, your visitors who use keyboard or screen readers are forced to wade through all sorts of information. This includes the name of the organization, page title, site navigation, and more until they finally reach the page’s unique content. Within that same website, the website visitors encounter all unnecessary information every time they open a new page. Skip Links help people with disabilities find the content they need without this hassle.
This repetitive process can be annoying and time-consuming for anyone, but it’s surely worse for someone with a visual disability who relies on keyboard or screen readers.
Wikipedia defines a Skip Linkas “an internal link at the beginning of a hypertext document that permits users to skip navigational material and quickly access the document’s main content. Skip Links are particularly useful for users who access a document with screen readers and users who rely on keyboards”.
Users can bypass all the junk and go directly to the important content they are seeking. They are absolutely crucial for web accessibility. And if designed creatively, they can match the look and feel of the website and not stand out like a sore thumb.
To see some good examples of Skip Links that blend in well with the website brand, visit some of these sites for inspiration.
The information above was entirely curated from Knowbility’s article Skip Links Design Showcase. If you want your site to be more accessible, consider adding Skip Links. Skip links help people with disabilities find the content they need while making your site accessible. Read the article for more detailed information.