The year is almost over and, as we all know, this coming last quarter is the biggest selling months for businesses with physical stores and and e-commerce stores.
Unfortunately, online shopping sometimes brings unique challenges for people with disabilities, and, contrary to general beliefs, people with disabilities use the internet in large numbers. With the holiday season just around the corner, now is the perfect time to examine why ADA compliance is good business and the right thing to do.
Does my Ecommerce site have to be accessible?
Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability in “places of public accommodation,” which includes private businesses that are open to the general public such as retail stores and restaurants.
There has been a long discussion (and a lot of confusion) about whether Title III of the ADA applies to ecommerce sites because they don’t have a physical address. However in a growing number of legal cases regarding website accessibility, judges have given their verdict in favor of the plaintiff saying that online retailers must comply with the ADA as if shoppers were visiting them in person.
Where do I start?
The first step is to audit your site. Here are some of the most common issues to pay attention to:
- Checking out - Imagine the frustration when someone gets items in their cart, has entered their information and can’t submit because a form field or a button at the very end isn’t accessible
- Form fields: Make sure that all your form fields have a proper label and the form should include proper error messaging so that users can easily understand if they’ve entered something incorrectly.
- Color schemes: Websites are all about visuals, so, make sure that there is enough color contrast so the site is can be navigated by people with color blindness and low vision
- Alternative text: This is one the most crucial elements when it comes to accessibility for people with visual disabilities. Alt text shows accurate descriptions of the exact contents of each image. People with visual disabilities (and others) can use this text when navigating a website with assistive technologies
- Mobile shoppers: Websites that are not responsive are not only getting penalized by search engines such as Google and Bing, but also are losing on a great opportunity to make an impact on people on the go and people with disabilities that use mobile devices.
If an ecommerce website isn’t accessible to people with disabilities it isn’t just at risk of getting served, but it’s also turning away millions of potential customers. To get yourself on the right track, find legal, accounting and online counsel to bring your business to the next level.