The DOJ’s Website Accessibility Guidance: What You Need to Know

Accessibility is no easy feat – it transcends beyond someone simply clicking on a website and instead ensures everyone, with or without a disability, has the same experience when browsing the web. The Department of Justice (DOJ) released web accessibility guidance under the Americans with Disabilities act. Some might say that the guidance has made it easier to make a website more accessible, and some might say it has made it more complex. Below, we’ll explore what the guidance says and everything you need to know about it to ensure your business is protected against consequential lawsuits.

What The Guidance Says

The DOJ only announced the new guidance in March – meaning it’s still somewhat of a gray area for businesses who are still trying to get to grips with the stricter accessibility laws. Although this isn’t a law, it’s only guidance; there is the Americans Disability Act (ADA) that outlines regulations as law, as does the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

In short, the guidance discusses the importance of web accessibility for those with disabilities and removing barriers that once prevented those individuals from having the same online experience as everyone else. It also outlines when the ADA requires web content to be accessible, which isn’t all the time. Companies with fewer than 15 employees and less than 20 weeks of trading don’t necessarily need to worry about accessibility guidelines.

For example, FOX News came under scrutiny for its accessibility issues but partnered with accessiBe to help with their lawsuit by using their overlay product to create a more accessible website. A similar situation happened with Five Guys, Netflix, and Amazon.

What You Need To Know

Every business should know that accessibility is no longer optional; it’s a requirement. The laws are becoming increasingly strict, with updates to the WACG expected to arrive soon, and the new guidance by the DOJ further solidifies the need to focus on accessibility. Still, sometimes it can feel as clear as mud to understand, which is why there are professional companies on hand, as mentioned above, to assist businesses in the process. The guidance is available in full here.

Essentially, brands need to have a more inclusive approach to their website design – moving away from a focus on the business and profits and instead towards a seamless experience for everyone passing through the website. That might be resolving poor color contrast issues, using color to give information, including text alternatives, and putting captions on videos.

What You Should Avoid

As a general rule of thumb, brands shouldn’t focus on the sale but rather on how that sale is achieved. There are 61 million adults in America with a registered form of disability, with some of them finding it difficult to navigate websites without accessibility aids. That’s potentially 61 million chances at making a sale that wouldn’t be possible without implementing points outlined in the disability guidance

You should also avoid neglecting new updates. With the upcoming WCAG 3.0, it’s expected that stricter regulations will require businesses to make additional changes to their website to make them more accessibility friendly.

The guidance is there to support and, believe it or not, guide businesses to ensure they are inclusive of everyone visiting their websites. Although the guidelines may seem daunting and confusing, there are plenty of additional self-help guidance articles online that make implementing changes easy. Businesses must implement them to avoid accessibility lawsuits.