Website Accessibility and Lawsuits with Glen Ingram of WebSearchPros
Glen Ingram is the founder of Web Search Pros and advocate for website accessibility, making your website easy and accessible for everyone to use. This is vital since millions of internet users have some degree of vision or hearing disability.
By running your own website, you're exposed to legal issues and lawsuits and not being aware of the laws doesn't mean they don't apply to you.
However, a lot of the laws that govern website accessibility are vague and opague, without clear and defined standards.
There's been a massive increase of lawyers targeting Shopify site owners for a quick cash grab, and these lawsuits can start at $25,000 or more.
They partner with a disabled person and use this to target thousands of companies.
How people with vision disabilities use your website
85-95% of ADA Lawsuits against websites are coming from people with vision issues, and most of the rest are from people with hearing issues.
People with vision issues use something called a "screen reader" to view your website.
It takes your website and turns it audible.
It's very important to use proper Heading tags in a hierarchy, as well as proper ALT text for images for a screen reader to work well.
Learn ARIA and Semantic HTML to implement this on your site, since it's highly likely whoever made your theme did not set this up correctly, and at the end of the day it's your responsibility.
According to Glen, "Accessibility is like being pregnant, you either are or you aren't." 97% of websites are NOT accessible.
There have been websites sued over one single PDF that was not compliant.
Test your website with JAWS screen reader now and try to navigate it, you'll quickly find it's likely a frustrating experience.
Users with Vision handicaps will likely use their Keyboard for navigation instead of a mouse. So they use TAB to work through your website. It's important when they do that the point of focus is correct, that they can skip through certain menus, etc.
Plugins don't cut it, in fact they might even attract more lawsuits since the lawyers pursuing these cases know they don't cut it.
Most lawsuits hold you to WCAG 2.1 AA Standards.
If your website is accessible in the US or sells to the US, you can be sued even if you are a foreign company.
Spend on making your website accessible can actually be eligible for tax credits after the first $250 spend on accessibility.
Quick conversion tip: Increase Font Size
A lot of the work you do to make your website easier to use will lead to increased conversions.
I noticed this on one of my dropshipping sites when I changed the colors to increase contrast and also increase font size, my customers fit into an older demographic and conversion rates went way up.
If you're selling to an older audience, increase the default font size!
"The reality of it is you make that a little bit bigger, like you said with your color contrast. And you're not going to have any notice anything else other than more sales. Because if it's easier to read, easier to convert, it's easier to buy."
Quick Conversion Tip: Use the proper html for phone numbers and other contact info:
when you look at half the people are on a phone or tablet, when you put in a phone number, and you go over to your word processor thing, and you're in your website, and you click the link, it's T E, L, colon, and your phone number. And now it's clickable. But I'll bet you 67% of websites don't have clickable phone numbers and that drives me batty.
Quick ways to check if your website is compliant
Use the WAVE app by Webaim (should be on your right side of the screen) - this should quickly show you color contrast, font, alt text, and navigation issues.
Use Google's Lighthouse tool - this is great for checking accessibility issues but also can check for website speed and performance, SEO, and more.
Use a Screen reader tool to go through your website.
Get an audit done by a professional, like Glen at WebSearchPros.
Fixing Accessibility issues can lead to higher conversion rates, better search engine rankings, and peace of mind that you won't get a needless website.
It's not hard to become more compliant than 90% of other websites with just an hour or two a week over time.
Must read articles and resources:
WCAG 2.1 AA Standards https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/