Debunking Common Web Accessibility Myths

Debunking Common Web Accessibility Myths

“Web accessibility is too expensive.

“There’s no real business value to making my website accessible.

These are just a few of the concerns we hear when talking to organizations about web accessibility for the first time. And while it’s easy enough to poke holes in each one, it’s worth mentioning these myths are one of the many reasons digital accessibility lags so far behind.

To better understand why online businesses are slow to build accessible experiences, let’s debunk some of these myths and explain why web accessibility is essential for your business.

Common Myths in Website Accessibility

Common misconceptions about web accessibility have impacted the way organizations approach any accessibility initiative — particularly when it comes to time, cost, and compliance. Here’s what we learned.

Myth: There Are No Benefits to an Accessible Website

Why is digital accessibility so important? We can all agree that delivering an equal browsing experience to every user is the right thing to do. However, there are other benefits, like improved search engine optimization (SEO).

Many of the same principles for good SEO overlap with web accessibility best practices. Companies spend tens of thousands of dollars every year to improve their searchability. Search engines rank websites based on the content and user experience.By working on one, we enhance the other. After all, a better user experience for your visitors also offers a better understanding to search crawlers.

Myth: Web Accessibility Only Affects Those Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision

Most believe visual impairments are the most prominent disability an inaccessible website can impact. However, web accessibility can benefit several impairments, including hearing, cognitive, and motor. In fact, mobility and cognitive impairments affect a higher percentage of the population than visual. 

That means digital accessibility is essential for people who cannot move their limbs and require a switch device. Similarly, people with dyslexia need the option to change fonts or line spacing. 

The bottom line is an accessible website benefits users of all abilities. And your website’s design doesn’t have to suffer in the process.

Myth: Web Accessibility Means Redesigning My Entire Website

Most online business owners believe that providing an accessible online experience means starting from scratch — redesigning and developing the entire site. That, without exception, sounds both time-consuming and expensive. While we agree that it’s ideal to design an accessible website from the first line of code, it’s not feasible for the millions of existing sites. 

However, it is often possible to make a website accessible by making minor adjustments, such as adding alternative text to images, adding focus outlines on interactive elements, and ensuring that videos have closed captions. These changes can significantly improve the website’s accessibility without requiring a complete redesign.

Myth: Using Automated Tools On My Site is All I Need to Make It Accessible

Automation is a powerful tool that is getting better all the time. But automation alone cannot identify and fix every accessibility error. In fact, automated scans can only detect 30% of barriers for users with disabilities. The limited scope of even the most advanced automation will leave many compliance issues unresolved and your company at risk.

That’s not to say automated tools are not a great starting point. However, it’s essential to think of them as a tool in a more extensive toolkit, including regular monitoring, manual testing, and reporting.

At 216digital, we believe in a hybrid approach. That combines the speed of automation with the precision of manual auditing to achieve and maintain an accessible website. 

For more information about automated tools and ADA web compliance, check out the article, Are Web Accessibility Testing Tools Enough to Ensure Compliance.

Myth: Screen overlays can make my website compliant and protect me from an ADA lawsuit 

Screen overlay products, also known as accessibility widgets or plugins, can help make a website more accessible to users with disabilities. Still, they do not guarantee that a website will fully comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or other accessibility guidelines.

These products typically provide a range of accessibility features, such as increasing text size, changing the background color, and providing alternative text descriptions for images. However, they do not address all of the accessibility issues that a website may have. For example, they may not address issues related to the structure and organization of content, or the use of appropriate headings and labels.

Additionally, these products do not address the issue of accessibility for users who are using assistive technologies such as screen readers. These technologies rely on the underlying code of the website, and a screen overlay does not address these barriers.

While these products can be a helpful tool for improving accessibility, they should not be considered a substitute for a comprehensive accessibility audit and remediation process to mitigate ADA lawsuit risk. Approximately 600 companies with an accessibility widget installed on their websites were hit with ADA accessibility lawsuits in 2022. 

Myth: Web Accessibility Litigation is Frivolous and Invalid

Shockingly, most online companies believe accessibility lawsuits have no merit. Yet huge brand-named companies, such as Domino’s, have also been targeted with frivolous ADA lawsuits. 

But huge name brands aren’t the only ones. Thousands of small and mid-size businesses face legal action. If you think your business is small enough to fly under the radar and avoid litigation, you’re wrong. Many mom-and-pop restaurants and small stores have recently fought and lost website accessibility lawsuits.

Failure to provide an accessible website can result in legal action and potentially significant financial penalties. Therefore, it’s crucial to take web accessibility seriously and ensure your website is accessible to everyone.

Fact: Web Accessibility is Smart Business

You’re not alone if you’ve fallen victim to believing some of these common myths and misconceptions. In ethical terms, individuals of all abilities deserve the right to barrier-free web use. And as we’ve seen, there are strong legal incentives for ensuring that your website is as accessible as possible. But you can take action.

216digital has made it easier to achieve website accessibility compliance without breaking your budget, taking all of your time, or completely redesigning your website. We can help develop a strategy to integrate WCAG 2.1 compliance into your development roadmap on your terms. 

To learn more about how the ADA experts at 216digital can help build an ADA WCAG 2.1 compliance strategy to achieve ongoing, real-world accessibility on your terms, schedule an ADA Strategy Briefing.