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What is Web Accessibility and Why Does It Matter to Your Business?

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What is Web Accessibility?

Web Accessibility means that your website and content is optimized so that people with disabilities, including auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech & visual, can use them effectively. Your website should be designed for a person with any degree of disability to perceive, understand, navigate, and, in appropriate instances, interact with your content. [Source: w3.org]

In addition, web accessibility can be useful to those without formal disabilities. Website users on mobile devices or devices with small screens, the elderly, temporarily disabled users, or those with limited internet connection can utilize enhanced web accessibility tools that compliant websites provide.

Why is Web Accessibility Important for Your Business?

Web Accessibility is now required and enforced by law. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in places of public accommodation and does not directly address whether places of public accommodation include websites. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken the position that Title III applies to all public-facing websites used by companies that otherwise qualify as places of public accommodation. [Source: Vilendrer Law] That means that if your website is not ADA compliant, a lawsuit can be filed against your business and you will be held liable for the outcome. The uncertainty of the applicability of ADA Title III to websites, coupled with the continual rise in internet usage should motivate you to take proactive steps to protect your business against the risk of liability by ensuring Web Accessibility tools are available on your website.

California's Unruh Act should be another serious consideration when evaluating the accessibility of your website. This revolutionary civil rights act protects people from business discrimination and/or harassment in the state of California. Originally enacted in 1959, the Unruh Act originally only applied to brick-and-mortar establishments, but now includes virtual establishments as well. This act is not only applicable to websites of California-based businesses either. This means that any business that sells or promotes services or products within the state of California can be held accountable. And unlike ADA Title III, under this act plaintiffs can sue not only for attorney fees, but they can also sue for damages including emotional distress.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1 guidelines), developed by the WC3, are arguably the most influential protocols shaping web accessibility policies. Though the WCAG is not a set of laws that can be enforced, many governments have adopted it as the standard for their accessibility guidelines. Regardless of the legal authority of WCAG 2.1, these guidelines have global recognition as the most important set of accessibility standards and can be enforced to varying degrees by most major countries.

What Can You Do to Become Compliant?

Rhino Web Group offers a web accessibility solution that enhances your users' website usability with ADA-approved accessibility tools to accommodate those who are disabled, temporarily disabled, elderly, browsing on a mobile device, or have limited internet connection and access. This comprehensive accessibility solution keeps your website compliant with ADA Title III, the Unruh Act and WCAG 2.1.

Your web accessibility tools will be integrated and maintained by your Rhino Web Group Webmaster Support Team, giving you the assurance that your website will remain up to date on compliance standards.

Contact Us to get started!

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