By now, you’re well aware that Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance is essential for your company’s website to be accessible to the widest possible audience. The resources you put toward that goal today will be well worth it as you expand your potential customer base, increase usability for all, and protect your company from legal risks.
These improvements are necessary, but they don’t have to break the bank. Read on for tips on how to bring your site up to compliance while keeping costs under control.
1. Make sure your internal teams are on board.
When everyone on your team shares the same commitment to accessibility, it may reduce ADA compliance costs, leave fewer issues untouched, and require fewer changes at the end. If these requirements are considered before you actually build your site, compliance is even more streamlined.
Plan, fix, verify, test, and maintain. Every stakeholder has a role to play in setting clear requirements, reducing the amount of effort needed, and ultimately keeping accessibility costs down.
- UX and design: Accessibility begins here. If this team keeps accessibility as a primary requirement when designing, subsequent teams will have a strong vision and roadmap to implement accessibility. Training and documented brand guidelines are key to prioritizing accessibility in the UX and design stages.
- Development: This is the team that gets deep into the code and, as such, will probably require the most extensive training on the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) requirements. Developers need to understand the requirements, develop to the standard, and test their own work on all deliverables.
- Quality assurance: An excellent QA team not only takes your development and design work out for a test drive, but it also finds accessibility issues that need to be fixed before launch. This team also has the specialized tools to confirm developers have met accessibility requirements.
- Compliance, management, and legal: The better the documentation, the more visibility you will have, and the less effort it will take for your team to demonstrate compliance. Management, legal, and compliance teams will need dashboards and regular reporting. This keeps everyone on the same page and lowers the chances of surprises down the road.
2. Create an actionable testing and remediation plan.
There are many factors to consider when evaluating the initial and ongoing costs of accessibility testing and remediation. To achieve the highest impact with the best use of your resources, begin with:
- The most popular content: You can save time and resources by auditing your site’s most frequent user flows. Which pages do people visit frequently? What functionality is most engaged with? Focus your testing and remediation efforts on these pages first and work on less visited pages and user flows after.
- Templates: If you have a shopping platform with hundreds or thousands of product pages, there’s probably no need to test and remediate every single one of them, because they likely share a common template. Even if you don’t have an e-commerce site, your site probably uses templates. Focusing on your unique templates is a great way to identify necessary accessibility changes across the site.
- Interactive elements: Modern websites are packed with features and animations that require user interaction, including shopping carts, streaming videos, event calendars, and surveys. The more of these you have on your site, the higher your ADA compliance costs may be. To make your site fully accessible, you’ll need to examine every interaction, from first login to final checkout.
- Partner functionality: If you use software provided by a vendor on your site, identify it and ask the vendor about the accessibility of their service. This could be a rating and review feature, live chat, location information, and more. Only buy software and services that are accessible!
- Testing modalities: Make sure to budget for manual code reviews, automated testing, and user testing. You’ll need testers representing different abilities, including those with disabilities. Testing with people with disabilities humanizes the issue for your team, confirms your site is usable (after all, that is the goal!), and provides compelling documentation to defend complaints.
- Content, videos, and PDFs: You may find that content creators need to get involved in the process. Images may need alt tags, PDFs may need to be accessible, and videos may require captioning or audit descriptions. On most websites, image alt tags can be done in a content management system (CMS) but will still take up staff time. Depending on the scale and quantity, PDFs and videos may be able to be outsourced inexpensively.
- Monitoring and maintenance: You need to maintain all the great accessibility work you’ve done in the test and remediation phase. If you consider maintenance from the start, you’ll be in a position to consider the resources, the process, the vendors, and more for the long term.
- The right software and tools: Buy accessibility testing software that will help you fix, test, and report on accessibility faster and with less overhead. The best accessibility software can help you keep up with meaningful test coverage, robust integration capabilities, excellent reporting, and testing with assistive technologies.
Reviewing these areas in advance can also reduce the initial scope when you begin your accessibility project.
3. Take advantage of ADA tax incentives.
There are two ways in which you may reduce your corporate tax burden every year and offset some ADA accessibility compliance costs:
- Businesses with 30 or fewer employees, or revenues of $1 million or less, can qualify for the Disabled Access Credit, which may provide financial support toward accessibility-related costs such as hiring additional staff, converting files or documents to new formats, and any other initiatives that make your site accessible to customers or staff.
- Section 190 of the tax code allows companies of any size to deduct up to $15,000 annually for removing barriers to access, and your organization may qualify.
4. Be proactive.
In 2019, web accessibility lawsuits were filed at a staggering rate of one per hour. Among those targeted were 66 percent of the top retailers and 60 percent of the top restaurants in the country. And 21 percent of those lawsuits were aimed at businesses that had already been sued for this very issue.
Make your digital properties accessible on your terms and timelines, not on a timeline dictated by a plaintiff attorney—and with the cost of a defense attorney.
Let an accessibility consultant help you save.
Do you have the resources to manage this work in-house, or should you hand it off to a digital accessibility services company?
Consider these basic questions to figure out what you need:
- How big is your digital footprint? This includes your website, apps, and any other digital assets.
- How compliant are you already?
- Is your company ready to handle this change, or are there significant cultural and operational shifts needed?
- How often does your website/app change? Can you keep up?
UsableNet’s free ADA Accessibility Remediation Calculator is a great place to start on your company’s path to accessibility.