Addressing Website Accessibility

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AccessiCart was first established as Bet Hannon Marketing in 2008 and has been remote since the very beginning, with team members from across the US and as far away as South Africa. As an early adopter of remote work, Hannon joined EDCO for the networking. As she says, “Being a part of EDCO has introduced me to a robust group of people who are thinking strategically about the future of Central Oregon. I found my tribe.”

Over the past decade, the company has evolved to meet the changing landscape of website development. Rebranded in 2022, AccessiCart was born out of the need for expertise in improving the user experience for people with disabilities on eCommerce sites.

Hannon recounts, “In 2016, a client who is a large agricultural water district requested help in making their webpage meet new website accessibility standards. Our team got a glimpse of what website accessibility can do for people with disabilities and how it can make a real difference in people’s independence and human dignity when they don’t need to depend on a family member or friend for access to information. Our team coalesced around that mission, and we dove in and took additional training to develop our niche.”

While websites aren’t explicitly included in The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), earlier this year the Department of Justice released “Guidance on Web Accessibility and the ADA.” This guidance is for commercial websites and website-only businesses to meet the standards set by Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The WCAG is an internationally recognized set of standards that can be summarized by four basic principles: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust.

For business owners, complying with these new standards can be an expensive issue. According to UsableNet Inc.’s 2021 Year End Report, an estimated 4,055 ADA-based lawsuits regarding website, mobile app or video content accessibility were filed last year. In response to the pressure, some businesses have turned to automated artificial intelligence overlays but, as noted in a recent New York Times article, these A.I.-powered overlays charge monthly fees of up to $1,000 while failing to provide friendly navigation for people with disabilities.

Hannon emphasizes that avoiding getting sued is only one benefit of making your website more accessible. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 25% of all adults in the United States have some form of a disability, so making your website accessible can allow you to reach a broader market. Additionally, the standards around accessibility improve everyone’s user experience and are often matched with improvements to SEO.

“Making your site more accessible can seem like a daunting task, but even small changes can make a big difference.” Hannon explains, “Things like making your webpages keyboard navigable and ensuring all images have alt text will make your website more accessible for all users and at the end of the day, that’s just the right thing to do.”

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