When your website isn’t accessible, you’re denying access to your information and services to a large group of users.
But an accessible website isn’t just an ethics question.
Although creating an accessible website is unquestionably the right thing to do, it’s also a legal obligation in many jurisdictions, including most of Europe and the United States.
The rules and regulations
The European Union established a directive in 2016 on the accessibility of websites that stipulates that all public sector websites must conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0 at Level AA by September 23, 2020.
If you conduct business within the EU, you will need to be familiar with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
In the province of Ontario, Canada, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act of 2005, or AODA, requires conformance to WCAG version 2.0 at Level AA, as well.
With full compliance expected across all public and private sector websites by 2021.
The United States also requires that websites be accessible to people with disabilities. In the U.S., that requirement is found in The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
The ADA does not specify a particular standard to conform to and no regulations have yet been written to elaborate this.
However, the ADA broadly covers all places of public accommodation. This law has been repeatedly demonstrated to apply to websites.
Lacking any regulation, your best choice is to work towards – at least – the conformance with the WCAG version 2.0 at Level A.
So what are the advantages?
There are many advantages to having an accessible website for your business. Implementing accessibility can set your business apart from others in the same industry.
By implementing best practices for website accessibility, you can increase your potential market reach, improve usability and interaction for all website visitors, and minimise your exposure to legal risk.