There is no denying it: our modern-day digital economy is evolving rapidly. You see significantly fewer people with flip phones and desktop computers and more people with smartphones and tablets. Businesses are allowing employees to work while mobile and WiFi hubs are set up in airports for easy Internet access while traveling.
The Data is Conclusive
In today’s day and age, people turn to the Internet to shop for goods, meet new friends, do various amounts of research and communicate with the world independently. According to the International Telecommunication Union, global Internet usage increased from 6.5 to 43 percent between 2000 and 2015. Currently, it is estimated that 3.2 billion people use the Internet world-wide. It is expected that the digital economy will continue to climb at a rapid pace, creating an even larger online network.
A new study by Pew Research center found that 79%, or 8 in 10 Americans, prefer to shop online, rather than in a brick and mortar store. In comparison, back in 2000 only 22% of Americans preferred online shopping. With the amount of digital advances we have had since the start of the 21st century, can you imagine our technological advances 10 to 20 years from now? Without a doubt, the digital economy is quite a massive market with a significant audience.
Meeting Evolving Needs and Expectations
As more people turn to the Internet to shop and communicate, businesses and organizations are increasingly visible. As the spotlight on the presence of online corporations gets brighter, it’s important to ask yourself: with a growing number of people accessing my website, what are my risks?
Find Out If You Are At Risk
AKEA is here to begin helping you today by Assessing Your Risk and creating a plan to address gaps in your web accessibility compliance.
If you haven’t learned about web accessibility yet, there is no better time than now! In order for all individuals, including those with various disabilities, to successfully use current web tools and websites, the digital environments need to be properly designed and coded.
Unfortunately, many websites and tools are developed with a variety of accessibility barriers and obstacles, not only making for an unpleasant experience for an individual with disabilities, but also leading to a potential legal compliance situation, one that can quickly spiral out of control.
Development of the Standards
Over the years, standards have been put in place to help the fight toward equality and to ensure world-wide cooperation. These specifications consist of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) and Section 508 standards. These standards are intended for web authoring tool developers, web accessibility evaluation tool developers, web content developers and others who need a standard for web accessibility.
The guidelines consist of a wide range of recommendations, allowing greater online access for people with disabilities, including those who are blind, deaf, have limited movement, experience cognitive limitations and have speech disabilities, among others. By following the standards set forth in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and Section 508, web content will be more user friendly to all visitors, including those without disabilities.
Assessing Your Risk
If this has you wondering how compliant your website is with current standards, you’re not alone. The reality is, if you have concerns and think you might be at risk, the likelihood is you probably are. It is crucial to take the appropriate steps quickly and efficiently to alleviate your concerns.
How Can We Help
The good news is that at AKEA Web Solutions, we specialize in providing complete web accessibility consulting services. With over fifteen years of web accessibility consulting, we are leading experts in our field.
The AKEA Methodology
When we partner with an organization to provide accessibility consulting, the first step is to determine if you are indeed at risk of being non-compliant, by conducting a series of tests known as a Web Accessibility Audit. Through the use of gap analysis, additional testing, we are able to identify possible accessibility issues.
Once these issues are identified, we provide an overview and documentation of the major issues. When the overview is complete, we will determine priorities and provide a recommendation on how to proceed to remediate the issues and then maintain accessibility compliance in the future. We will work with you to chart a path that meets your goals quickly and efficiently.
If you’re one of the businesses deemed not at risk following our assessment, that is wonderful news! Despite your business or organization being deemed compliant, it is important to remember that no website is ever 100% compliant, no matter how many proactive steps were taken. Standards are often changing and technology continues to advance, so it is crucial to maintain monitoring and establish a plan for continued compliance in the future.
Your Website is At Risk, Now What?
If you are at risk, the important thing to do is not to hesitate. The time to take action is now! Especially if your organization is a public school or university, or a state government institution. For these types of organizations, WCAG compliance is a legal requirement, so quick action is essential to keeping your organization or business afloat. If you wait to address these issues, you run the risk of receiving a letter of complaint or finding yourself at the wrong end of a lawsuit.
Risk Can Be Managed
Not only does a letter of complaint or lawsuit require you to deal with potentially long and costly litigation proceedings, but you also run the risk of damage to your organization’s reputation. Many consumers utilize the Internet forum to write blogs and submit reviews. All it takes is the click of a button and you could find yourself facing instant negative press. Word can quickly spread to other individuals with disabilities, costing your business potential customers, as well as a tarnished reputation.
It’s important to realize that by having a website that is not in compliance with WCAG standards, not only are you violating the right of those with disabilities to have equal access to services and products but it could also lead to a loss of business. If someone finds themselves unable to access your website, they won’t be coming back.
Choose the Right Partner
By working with your team, AKEA Web Solutions will create work assignments and timelines to meet website compliance. This corrective action plan can also be presented to help alleviate litigation, should you find yourself in the midst of a complaint or lawsuit.
By addressing accessibility issues once you are made aware of them, you can reduce the negative effects on your business. The number of web accessibility lawsuits has continued to rise in recent years, so just because you haven’t been faced with a letter or lawsuit yet, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future.
Next Steps To Take
Contact AKEA Web Solutions today to allow us to assist you in mitigating your risk, protecting both your assets and your professional reputation, by creating accessibility policies and programs.
Our team can make sure that accessibility is done right the first time and we can educate you on techniques to keep you up-to-date with the latest accessibility trends. This way, we can keep your risk level low and create a positive online experience for everyone who visits your website.
Contact AKEA for a Free Consultation
on your web design and accessibility initiative!