Accessible Website Redesign for 2020?
I respond to every call asking for help making a website ADA compliant, by asking whether it might be time for an accessible website redesign instead. After all, the cost of WCAG auditing and then accessibility remediation of an existing website is often significant; often north of $10K.
So if your website design is older than 4 years, it might just be smarter to put that investment toward a new accessible website redesign that will be ADA and WCAG compliant.
Why Does My Website Need To Be Accessible and Comply with ADA or Sect 508?
Real quickly, the DOJ and a large volume of case law have established that commercial websites (especially those with brick-n-mortar locations) are subject to the American Disabilities Act. And institutions that take federal dollars, are subject to Sect 508 of the Disabilities Act. The Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG 2.1 A, AA) is the guideline for determining accessibility. A rapidly growing number of law firms and jumping on this and extorting settlements at a rapidly increasing rate. The recent Domino's Supreme Court fail, promises a new wave of web-related ADA cases in 2020.
WCAG Complaint Website Redesign Benefits:
- Fresh design
- Improved usability (ensured by good web accessibility design)
- Speed - mobile performance
- Improve SEO (note Google's recent BERT update)
Choosing Accessible Website Redesigners
Accessible web design is a fairly new specialty. Finding an experienced and qualified team to build you a fresh website that is accessible and WCAG compliant will not be easy. As you write your RFP, first make sure its very clear what you're requiring. You need to be explicit in requiring that the design and development adhere to WCAG 2.1 A, AA levels. Also ask that proposals include methodology for testing for WCAG compliance, and what tools will be used. Ask who will be doing compliance testing and their qualifications.
Assessing WCAG Accessible Redesigners
Comparing apples to apples is always difficult, but here are some things to look for, and look out for.
- Do a quick test of the web developer's website. First, using just your tab and enter keys, try navigating the homepage. Does the first tab hit trigger a [skip menu] option? Then try using a free page tester such as WAVE.
- Do they declare themselves as web accessibility specialists?
- Assess the experience of the person testing for accessibility. Everyone on our team has north of 16 years.
- Expect WCAG compliance to cost more. Here's a blog post on how much does ADA compliance cost.
- Don't expect any guarantees. Compliance is also shared by the client using the site.
- Websites aren't static, so plan on periodic accessibilty audits.
Keep in mind that between mobile and now accessibility, this is no longer the realm for graphic designers or all-in-one agencies. This is an area that requires specialized expertise. Choose wisely.
Why Do I Need My Website To Be ADA Compliant Now?
Not only is it wise to ensure your site is accessible to all users (think Boomers), but of course your avoiding web-related ADA lawsuits. These lawsuits only promise to grow this next year. The recent slew of cases, which apexed with Domino's Supreme Court denial asserts and reasserts the prevalent legal basis for the ADA's application to websites, and now mobile apps as well.
Be smart. Invest now.