It seems like forever ago that we were all in a mad scramble to update websites and other web content to meet the January 2021 accessibility laws rolling out in Ontario. Accessibility auditing was the hot topic and remediation was the big thing amongst development and marketing teams.
For many, compliance was treated as a one-and-done event that’s behind them… but that’s where we see businesses fall foul to the rules and risk exposure to the related compliance fines.
THE 2023 ACCESSIBILITY COMPLIANCE REPORT
The next notable date in the compliance schedule in December 2023 is coming into focus and was intended to be a timely reminder to audit and remedy shortcomings before the submitting your business report— a legal obligation set by AODA.
What would have changed in the last 2-3 years to make a business no longer compliant? If you have published new or edited web content, refreshed email templates, introduced new videos or images online, all of these have potential to unstitch comprehensive accessibility compliance efforts of the past.
What are the signs of missed accessibility compliance items? Many are easy to identify, and if the easier items are not compliant then chances are that the more complicated implementations also need some clean-up work.
5 COMMON MISTAKES
As we help our clients audit their websites for performance and action remediation items, we see first-hand the most common types of accessibility shortfalls:
1. Missing Image Alt Tags
All images must have descriptive tags for assistive technology users and screen readers. Remember the intent of the law is to help provide accessibility to the information, so try to describe what is in the image and/or what is happening to provide good context.
2. Missing or Ambiguous Link Text
When links are labeled with vague phrases such as “Read More” or “View Article,” visitors who depend on them for navigation may struggle to find the information. It can be tough to establish a connection between headings, paragraphs, and buttons when they are viewed in isolation. To improve clarity, provide additional descriptive text, such as “Read how to create an email campaign,” to convey a clearer understanding of what the reader can expect to find when they click the button or link.
3. Keyboard Inaccessible Navigations
Standard controls for keyboard interactions are provided through code, HTML, and supporting frameworks.. Visitors who don’t use or don’t have access to a mouse may opt to navigate a website using a keyboard only. Functions such as tab, enter, and directional keys should remain enabled to facilitate access to all links and user journeys.
4. Heading Hierarchy
Use headings thoughtfully to guide visitors and maintain a logical structure of content. A common mistake is to use headings for style or appearance purposes, which can confuse visitors about the context and groupings of information. Appropriately using headings improves the overall readability and organization of your content, making it easier for visitors to navigate, and enhances their overall website experience.
5. Unprompted Changes to Content or Submission
We see the issue of unprompted changes to content all too often in creative-first web experiences, with auto-rotating carousels or dropdown lists that immediately change content upon selection.
These choices may add pizzazz to users who seek visual appeasement, however in all other situations they create a negative experience— it’s hard not to feel aggrieved when the information you start reading disappears off the screen.
MAXIMIZE YOUR BUSINESS POTENTIAL VS. MINIMIZING POTENTIAL FINES
Conversations about accessibility compliance are often driven by the initial concern of the financial penalty, however there are sound business reasons based on the impact of a positive approach to accessibility compliant practices.
With 16% of the entire world identifying as having a disability, according to the World Health Organization, this balance far outweighs any niche advertising target groups. Whether your business depends on lead inquiries or direct online sales, providing accessibility friendly experiences for all customers will yield positive returns.
Don’t scramble when it comes to your accessibility compliance.
Article by James Michael, VP Digital Strategy