Banner showing an image of a mountain top view in the clouds, reading the following: Navigating the Landscape of Accessibility

Introduction

What Is Accessibility, And Why Is It Important?

What Is Accessibility, And Why Is It Important?

Accessibility, in the context of the physical and digital world, revolve around the singular definition of access. People should be able to get where they need to go, read what they want, and do what they want; without the help of anyone else. To accomplish these tasks, the environment must be built and maintained inclusively for people with disabilities.

61 million adults in the United States live with a disability, [which is] 26 percent (one in 4) 1

According to the CDC. They can no longer be marginalized and ignored. A business that supports an inclusive environment cannot tip-toe around accessibility mandates any longer; they must make it the topmost priority.

Legally Speaking, Who Needs to be Compliant?

The legal landscape is shifting very quickly for digital accessibility with disability related lawsuits topping record levels year after year. With this shift has come an influx of people and businesses searching for ways to become compliant with their websites, PDFs, Word docs, PowerPoint files and videos. In 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported several lawsuits to local businesses based on their inaccessible websites including: Hulu, Hooters Restaurant, and a boutique hotel called Avanti.2 According to Hugo Martin, in an article in the LA Times: Lawsuits targeting business websites over ADA violations are on the rise, he said “Business owners who are sued under the ADA complain that the law allows plaintiffs to demand huge payouts in damages without first giving the business owner the opportunity to fix the websites”. As people scramble to find solutions, the number of lawsuits is only growing.

Why is Achieving Compliance so Difficult?

This teaching and knowledge transfer are bottlenecked as the field is relatively new, and there is simply a lack of trained professionals in accessibility. There are very limited learning opportunities in colleges and businesses in the field of accessibility, with many of its professionals being self-taught. The amount of knowledge is vast and can cover a variety of topics including: The Americans with Disabilities Act, The Rehabilitation Act, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, HTML, JavaScript, and multiple types of Assistive Technology. In each one of the above topics, a user could spend months researching the nuanced intricacies.

Complicated legal terminology layered with complex computer systems and functionality has created a unique situation where there are hundreds of jobs posted every week, but nobody to fill them. Content curators exist in multiples across every sector, while accessibility specialists are rare and difficult to find. It is not uncommon for a business to have over 10 contributors to the company website. The problem is that those people were never trained on web accessibility standards, and there likely isn’t anyone internally who is well versed on the topic either. Quick fixes and band aid remedies only compound the issue further. Businesses often hire an influx of accessibility people only after litigation. Even proactive business fall victim to litigation as there are many standards to consider when developing content that properly interacts with a person’s technology.

Have you ever wondered how accessible your website or file is?

Try and use it with only your keyboard and write down some thoughts on your experience.

Did you know where you were, could you access every page, could you submit the form, buy the item, play the video, or navigate?

Could you access the information you needed?

What Can I Do?

The number of disability lawsuits will break more records next year including those on education, health care, political websites, box stores, and independent and boutique businesses. The standards are unclear as to what it means to be fully compliant, and there is a lack of trained professionals in the field. The important thing to note is that accessibility is law, and if you own a business; you should be doing everything you can to give access to anyone.

The number of disability lawsuits will break more records next year including those on education, health care, political websites, box stores, and independent and boutique businesses. The standards are unclear as to what it means to be fully compliant, and there is a lack of trained professionals in the field. The important thing to note is that accessibility is law, and if you own a business; you should be doing everything you can to give access to anyone.

The number of disability lawsuits will break more records next year including those on education, health care, political websites, box stores, and independent and boutique businesses. The standards are unclear as to what it means to be fully compliant, and there is a lack of trained professionals in the field. The important thing to note is that accessibility is law, and if you own a business; you should be doing everything you can to give access to anyone.

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