Why Accessibility is Critical — And How Applause Can Help

Kelly Mccann Kelly McCann
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The new Applause Accessibility Tool helps you build accessibility into the beginning of your development process.

When was the last time your company tested for digital accessibility?

More than 42% of companies have never tested for accessibility or haven’t done so in more than a year, according to a new survey of Applause’s global community of QA professionals. Less than half of companies have tested for website accessibility in the past six months.

These figures highlight that many businesses do not prioritize accessibility. Accessibility testing should be an ongoing process, and should not be done only once in a while.

Think of accessibility like CX

There are more than 61 million Americans with life-impacting disabilities, and they are far less likely to visit your site if you don’t accommodate them. For the disabled community, accessibility is a customer experience issue. In fact, 71% of shoppers with disabilities will click away from your website if it is too difficult to use, according to Click-Away Pound Survey.

Everybody wins when websites are more accessible — including the company itself. If you care about CX, you should care about accessibility too.

42% of companies have either never tested for accessibility or haven’t done so in over a year.

Accessibility lawsuits will hit you

Your company is a prime target for litigation if it doesn’t make its sites accessible. In 2018 alone, more than 2,200 federal website accessibility lawsuits were filed — and 2019 was on pace to double that.

What should be more concerning is the United States Supreme Court’s refusal to hear Domino’s Pizza’s appeal of an accessibility lawsuit filed by a blind man. This ruling essentially gives individuals the green light to continue filing lawsuits against companies that are not accessible.

Accessibility’s gray areas

What makes accessibility compliance so challenging is that there are no official accessibility laws for developers to follow — only guidelines. Without standardized laws, there is a lot of gray area in which you have to operate. Making a website accessible is not like making a building accessible with designated parking and wheelchair ramps. There is no similar blueprint for digital accessibility.

There are Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG) and User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) — not to mention international specifications — but those are just guidelines, not codified law. This is why testing for accessibility on an ongoing basis is critical to both your short- and long-term success. That is where Applause can help.

Making a website accessible is not like making a building accessible, with designated parking and wheelchair ramps.

The Applause Accessibility Tool is here for you

Achieving accessibility compliance is not a quick or easy endeavor. Our new Applause Accessibility Tool will help you start this journey off on the right foot. Using the Applause Accessibility Tool, developers can identify and resolve issues while they code, helping you maintain a baseline of website accessibility.

The tool integrates seamlessly into your development process, and is used early in the software development lifecycle. When it identifies an issue, it provides either a code change that the developer can automatically apply, or highlights the issue for manual correction.

You can download the tool by clicking here.

However, like with any automated accessibility tool, you should not use the Applause Accessibility Tool in isolation. Human-based manual testing and evaluation remains critical, and is essential to discover the full scope of accessibility items covered in WCAG, which automated tools cannot detect.

To help you uncover these issues and build and maintain digital accessibility, Applause offers a fully managed suite of services. Our team of accessibility experts assess your website and applications to identify issues that violate WCAG 2.1 or other local government guidelines, review frequently updated assets or features, and even provide expert-led training. We also offer inclusive design studies to help you better understand the customer experience your product provides to those with disabilities. Our experts uncover issues that automation cannot and can have huge impacts on customer experience.

If your company is among the 42% that haven’t tested for accessibility in the last year, now is the time to invest.

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