What to know about website accessibility

What to know about website accessibility

Website accessibility can be one of those things we know is important, but may not do because we don’t understand what’s required of us or lack the resources needed to take action. Unfortunately, the number of lawsuits related to digital accessibility has increased in recent years. UsableNet’s 2023 Midyear Report on Digital Accessibility Lawsuits reported that website accessibility lawsuits increased from 2,314 in 2018 to more than 4,000 in 2022, and that 77% of the companies involved in these lawsuits have revenues under $25 million.

If you’ve been unclear about website accessibility requirements, here is what you need to know not only for your own firm, but for your clients' sites as well.

The legal side of website accessibility 

The 2023 State of Digital Accessibility Report released by Level Access revealed that 40% of organizations have recently grappled with legal issues related to digital accessibility, while 80% of decision makers are concerned about the risk of legal action related to provisions of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), especially over the next 12 months. Even if you feel relatively safe from ADA lawsuits, there is the issue of ADA “testers” who will bring legal action against businesses with websites that do not comply with ADA and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) guidelines. While Justice Thomas has denounced testers in the recent U.S. Supreme Court case, Acheson Hotels v. Laufer, no official stance has been taken on this growing “profession.” Still, these opportunistic testers can cause legal troubles for your firm that cost you time and money as you defend your position.

Digital accessibility guidelines may soon become updated to reflect the growing reliance on websites, apps, and other digital platforms. The California Assembly recently re-drafted AB 1757 to include the adoption of WCAG 2.1 into California’s disabled access law. If this law is passed, it would apply to any business that owns and operates a website to sell goods and services. Such a business would face statutory damages every time a person who visits its website, is low-visioned, or cognitively disabled, and encounters deterrents in the content or website design. An interesting aspect of AB 1757 is that it also allows individuals with disabilities to receive compensation directly from the website developer who made an inaccessible website.

quote image
Subtitles helped clarify video content when the audio was muddled or the person didn’t want to disturb those around them with the video’s sound.

A brief overview of WCAG principles and guidelines 

In case you’re unfamiliar with WCAG, they are founded on four guiding principles that state digital content must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust for all users. Note that there are different levels of compliance with WCAG, denoted from lowest to highest compliance as A, AA, and AAA. Here is what WCAG conformance looks like in practice, according to the Quick Reference WCAG guide

  1. Perceivable digital content for all users: This principle is designed to encourage practices that ensure users can perceive both information and interactive elements, and involves providing alternatives to text content and time-based media in a way that increases the availability of the content to users engaging through assistive devices such as screen readers.
  2. Operable user interfaces for web accessibility: The guidelines under this principle are designed to ensure that those with disabilities can use interface components and navigation elements. This includes making your content and webpages keyboard-accessible, avoiding excessive or nonstop animations, and making it easy for users to engage with your content using a variety of input modalities such as adaptive keyboards, motion tracking, and speech synthesis.
  3. Understandable information in digital accessibility: This principle includes guidelines requiring all information and user interface elements to be understandable. This includes making your content readable and understandable by explaining abbreviations and uncommon words or phrasing, providing consistent navigation options, and offering cues for input assistance. An example of input assistance would be the familiar “This field is required” in red on missed fields when a form fails to submit for a user.
  4. Robust content is interpretable by assistive devices: The “robust” in this principle refers to content that is robust enough to be interpreted by a wide range of assistive technologies. Specific technical practices included in this guideline are configuring your web pages with proper markup language and syntax, defining characteristics and states for elements, and including status messages for markup language that are shown to individuals using an assistive device. 

Gen Z: Website accessibility is included in diversity and equality 

“We're all fighting for equality, but accessibility is one component of it, not just for people with disabilities but accessibility as a whole,” said Gino Ramos, director for Salesforce’s Office of Equality programs.

Gen Z is 70% more likely to use captions when viewing video content and millennials are 53% more likely to use them, according to Preply’s 2022 survey on the use of subtitles among Americans. According to survey respondents, subtitles helped clarify video content when the audio was muddled or the person didn’t want to disturb those around them with the video’s sound.

A 2018 McKinsey report on generational differences showed that while Gen X-ers and Millennials tend to be individualistic, Gen Z is focused on community and celebrating the uniqueness of each individual. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that Zoomers (older Gen Z) dislike ableism in all forms. While ableism generally means to favor those without disabilities, it can also refer to practices that intentionally or unintentionally exclude people with disabilities. If a person who is blind wants to interact with your website or social content, they should be able to do so. 

How to make your website accessible for those with disabilities 

Here is how you can immediately start taking action to make your firm's website WCAG-compliant and inclusive of those with disabilities.

  • Test your website: Google Lighthouse, also called PageSpeed Insights, is an open-source tool that you can use to check the quality of your web pages against criteria for page performance, SEO Core Web Vitals, and web accessibility. You can also use aCe accessibility checker and Colorblind Web Page Filter.
  • Use a website accessibility solution: Once you’ve tested your website, you can choose to use Accessibe, UserWay, or Siteimprove to immediately start providing a more ADA-compliant experience for users with disabilities.
  • Hire a web designer with experience in accessibility-aware design: There are plenty of DIY landing page builders and website platforms, including Wix, Squarespace, and Webflow, but if you have advanced needs or are using WordPress, you’ve probably considered hiring a web designer. Before you hire anyone, be sure they can help you make your website an ADA-compliant, lead-generating machine. Some common ways to make your website more accessible include creating alternative text for images on your website, avoiding overuse of animations, and using distinctive foreground and background colors.

The best websites are for everyone 

From Apple’s Vision Pro to Google’s Little Signals' experiment in ambient computing, online spaces continue to become more integrated with our offline lives. As a firm, building a more inclusive website and creating more accessible content isn’t just about avoiding penalties and lawsuits: It’s about building a space for your brand that everyone can take part in.

Recommended for you

Get the latest to your inbox

Get the latest product updates and certification news to help you grow your practice.

By clicking “Submit,” you agree to permit Intuit to contact you regarding QuickBooks and have read and acknowledge our Privacy Statement.

Thanks for subscribing.

Relevant resources to help start, run, and grow your business.

Looking for something else?

Get QuickBooks

Smart features made for your business. We've got you covered.

Tax Pro Center

Expert advice and resources for today’s accounting professionals.

QuickBooks Support

Get help with QuickBooks. Find articles, video tutorials, and more.

How can we help?
Talk to sales 1-800-497-1712

Monday - Friday, 5 AM to 6 PM PT

Get product support