508 Accessibility Standards

As our day-to-day operations are continually moving online, legal standards are changing to adapt to the times. In order to make the internet properly accessible for individuals with disabilities, all web content must be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust by those using it regardless of their impairment.

Among other demands, these section 508 guidelines require content to have audio transcripts, text descriptions for images, proper formatting for easy navigability and compatibility with assistive technologies.

Contrary to common belief, these accessibility standards don’t apply exclusively to government industries and major companies. All businesses are responsible for getting their website up to code and now more than ever it’s time to take action.

Federal lawsuits over web accessibility have seen a roaring surge as of late. The number of lawsuits more than quadrupled from 2015 to 2016  and roughly doubled again from 2016 to 2017. Of all the cases that the firm recorded, 72% were filed against the retail or restaurant industry.

This data suggests that customers are becoming increasingly aware of their right to a universally accessible internet. Additionally, certain businesses are either ignorant of web accessibility standards or unaware that it applies to them. Section 508 is relevant to all businesses with online operations and the threat of a lawsuit will likely continue to grow as time goes on.

Accessibility Is Good For Business

For most retail and food companies, the main function of their website is to view products and place orders. In order to make this accessible to all, the first step is making sure everything is organized. Categorizing products in a sensible manner and properly listing them with a name and adequate description. This not only makes your website disability-friendly but improves usability for all users.

It is also necessary to accompany any images on your website with a concise but informative text description. This allows users with a visual impairment to navigate and shop online with the assistance of a screen reader.

Any video or audio must also have transcriptions available to aid those with hearing impairment. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to type more transcriptions than you can feasibly do yourself, there are several transcribing services available online.

Choosing color schemes carefully is also important for readability. It’s best to pick a background color that starkly contrasts the color of the text, helping words stand out on the page.

Before determining that your website is ready to go, it’s best to get confirmation from a professional source. Web Accessibility initiative has shared several tools that let you know for sure if your site passable.