When it comes to physical storefronts, most store owners understand basic accessibility requirements they must meet, such as providing ADA-accessible parking spots and access ramps. But with web accessibility, things are a little murkier.

What do the laws have to say regarding web accessibility for individuals with visual impairments and other disabilities? And what responsibilities do website owners have? Here’s what you need to know.

What Current Laws Mean

Currently, there are two laws that can apply regarding website accessibility. First is Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This law requires that any electronic or information technology used by the federal government must have accessibility measures in place for both federal employees and members of the general public. This law also applies to organizations that contract with and get funding from the federal government. 

Though this law only applies to a narrow subset of organizations, it makes it quite clear that websites that fall under this jurisdiction must be equally accessible to all.

On the other hand, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to private sector businesses. Though the law was written before the internet went “mainstream,” it is very clear in prohibiting any type of discrimination against individuals with disabilities that would keep someone from being able to access a business’s services.

Notably, companies are required by this law to make “reasonable modifications” to serve individuals with disabilities. In recent years, this has been understood to include the internet. In fact, thousands of lawsuits have been filed in the last few years when websites and apps are not fully accessible — and companies have been fined and forced to implement accessibility measures as a result.

How to Ensure Website Accessibility Compliance

Currently, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 serve as the internationally accepted standard for website accessibility — though they have not been officially adopted as a legally enforceable standard. These guidelines are in the process of being updated, with WCAG 2.2 expected to be published in early 2023. 

WCAG standards cover a wide range of accessibility measures that businesses should implement on their website, such as text alternatives for non-text content, ensuring proper use of color and contrast so users can separate foreground and background content, making all of a website’s functionality accessible via keyboard, and so on.

While ADA and Section 508 laws don’t specifically discuss WCAG, these guidelines have been generally accepted to be a strong baseline for ensuring accessibility compliance. 

Of course, implementing these accessibility standards can be a lot of work. Business owners must work closely with developers to ensure that their content meets the applicable guidelines so they can better serve their customers. 

Make the Most of Your Website By Making It Accessible

Accessibility has become an increasingly important topic in the world of web design. Just like everyone deserves access to a physical store, all internet users should be able to browse your business website without trouble.

By taking steps to ensure your website meets accessibility standards, you don’t just protect yourself from potential compliance lawsuits. You also deliver a better browsing experience for all potential customers, putting yourself in a much better position to earn their business.

Need help managing website compliance? Contact Site Rockstar today! We’ll be happy to help you get your website on the right track to full accessibility.