Companies and website owners face an urgent need these days: to make their digital channels accessible. Making websites and apps usable to people with disabilities is simply the right thing to do. Unfortunately, many organizations still struggle to implement web accessibility guidelines since they typically require technical expertise to perform. Integrating the necessary features often requires some form of design and development work that not all companies, especially small businesses, can afford.
Furthermore, some parties aren’t cutting companies any slack as they are aggressively using laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to pressure companies to adopt web accessibility.
As web accessibility platform accessiBe observed, more companies are getting sued under the ADA. Lawsuits were filed even against big names such as Domino’s Pizza and singer Beyoncé Knowles since their websites have allegedly failed to cater to disabled users. In the US, certain websites are considered to be places of public accommodation and must therefore be made accessible to all.
Fortunately, solutions providers are helping companies deal with the issue. Widgets that let users tweak site colors and font sizes can allow users with visual impairments to make the site more readable by themselves.
Compliance with the ADA requires websites to manifest the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These standards ensure that the essential accessibility features are made available and that web content can be properly processed by assistive devices. Compliance entails having all the crucial site elements be coded and configured according to certain standards. Auditing means reviewing each line of code and content to see if these standards have been met. AI can scan and evaluate text, images, and design elements to see if they comply not only with the minimum accessibility standards but also higher levels of accessibility compliance. Once the issues of a website have been identified, the AI can generate a detailed report on how site owners can make the necessary changes to ensure that people with disabilities can freely engage their content.
Conducting audits is both a tedious and time-consuming process. Auditing large and busy websites could take months to conduct when done manually. Even then, there is always the possibility of human errors. The simplest of oversights such as missing alt tags could be made even by seasoned developers. This could cause the site to fail reviews.
Fortunately, audits do not have to be carried out manually. Because audits can be carried out by AI, what would normally take weeks now could be done in a matter of hours. Site owners could also save a lot of time and resources as they will not have to shell out money for the expenses necessary to hire evaluators to conduct audits, nor will they have to spend time reviewing the contents of their site themselves.
It isn’t enough for a site owner to conduct an audit once and leave it at that. New content must always be monitored, and the WCAG can be updated at any given time. Because of this, it is important for audits to become a regular and continuous effort.
AI can continuously scan new content for issues and automatically make corrections so that websites can remain ADA-compliant without site owners having to make conscious efforts to monitor every new page that comes in months after the first audit.
The internet has ways of bringing people together, and throughout the years it has become more and more ingrained into our daily lives. If site owners neglect the ADA and the WCAG, then the disabled population runs the risk of being left behind as the world becomes more digitized.
Every site owner has a responsibility to make their site as accessible and navigable as possible for their visitors regardless of disability. Access to information, including the web, is a human right, and this means site owners must do their part so that everyone enjoys equal access to the web.