When it comes to accessibility, most think about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This law requires businesses to provide reasonable access and accommodation for disabled customers, eliminating discrimination surrounding everyday activities for people with disabilities.
While we have ramps, elevators, detectable warnings, what about online accessibility? When the majority of first interactions with businesses happen online, how do businesses make reasonable accommodations for their users?
Under the ADA, online businesses are required (yes, by law) to make accommodations for the following visitors:
- Visually-impaired or blind
- Motion-related disabilities
We sat down with TruAbilities, a company focused on a solution for achieving website accessibility compliance, to dive deeper.
Q: Before we dig in, let’s start with an explanation of what TruAbilities does.
A: TruAbilities is a simple software tool that any website or brand can install on their site to provide the required digital accommodations for people with disabilities. The TruAbilities tool can easily be applied in seconds to the footer of any website or digital marketing ad.
Q: For clarity, can you provide your definition of what web accessibility looks like in an online world?
A: The 1990 ADA Act provided necessary accommodations for people with disabilities in the physical world–think elevators, ramps, hand railings, wider doorways, etc. With the explosion of the Internet, the courts have upheld the “public accommodations” portion of the ADA Act to pertain to a website the same way it would pertain to a physical store.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) defined the online accommodations in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCGA) version 2.0 and more recently 2.1. With the rise in eCommerce, services and content people with disabilities are increasingly reliant on digital screens to live their life.
The concept of digital web accessibility is to give people with disabilities the same access to accommodations in the digital world that we do in the physical world.
Q: From your point of view, what is the benefit to advertisers, or businesses in general, to add the widget to their website?
A: It’s the right thing to do, obviously, but it is also good for business.
According to the 2010 Census, one in five people in the United States have a disability and collectively represent roughly $175 Billion in yearly purchasing power. Companies that provide accommodations with people disabilities appeal to a wide range of consumers. It is important to add that the courts also mandate website owners to provide digital accommodations. Companies that are not adhering to the WCGA guidelines are open to litigation and damages.
Q: How will TruAbilities adapt as the cookie-less future approaches?
A: TruAbilities is the only website accessibility tool in the market that does not rely on cookies. We have built a platform that does not rely on cookies for exactly that reason–they will likely go away in the future.
Q: When it comes to web accessibility, the widget really does it all. But, you’ve taken it one step further and given advertisers the ability to incorporate these features directly into display ads. How does this work?
A: TruAbilities is also the only company providing the digital accessibility tool for both websites and digital advertising. We believe that if a company provides digital accommodations on its website, it only makes sense that the same company would include the same accommodations in their digital marketing as well.
Not only does this complete their digital footprint, but it also provides valuable marketing to people with disabilities across the digital ecosystem.
Q: What advice do you have for advertisers in terms of compliance?
A: While the ADA and WCGA guidelines do mandate accommodations for websites, there are currently no requirements for accommodations in digital advertising. However, we believe brands that are committed to providing accommodations on their websites will also want to include the same accommodation in their digital marketing.
Q: Any final thoughts?
The ADA Act was heralded as a breakthrough globally for identifying and creating the necessary accommodations for people in society with disabilities. The Internet had significantly changed the landscape of pretty much everything and people with disabilities are now forced to navigate their lives in the digital realm for things like appointments, commerce, information, and social interactions. The courts have been very clear that brands need to provide digital accommodations for people with disabilities, but it is also clearly the right thing to do and smart business!