About 15 percent of the world’s population lives with some form of disability. In the United States, 26 percent of adults live with disabilities. In this age of e-commerce, you have to ensure that your online store is accessible to all customers if you are to succeed. In addition, regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require that commercial facilities provide accommodations for special needs individuals. Developing an ADA compliant website will enable everyone to use your store effectively.
But how exactly can you make your Shopify Store ADA compliant? Here is what to know:
What is ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, is a civil rights law that makes illegal discrimination against disabled people in the U.S. This law is designed to ensure that persons living with disabilities have equal opportunity when it comes to enjoying and using places of public accommodation.
As more and more businesses move online, ADA compliance has expanded from brick-and-mortar establishments to include websites and applications. In terms of e-commerce and online ADA, you need to make sure that your website is accessible to people with disabilities. This involves removing barriers that prevent interaction with the website and creating a friendly browsing experience for all users. Businesses also have to comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
The importance of making your online store accessible
There are many good reasons why you should consider making your Shopify Store ADA compliant. Here are a few:
Improved user experience
When your website is ADA compliant, the disability community will have an easier time navigating and using the site. Once you start fixing various usability issues, you will improve access to your website for smartphone users, people with disabilities, those with age-related issues as well as those without disabilities.
Increased market reach
Making your website accessible opens your doors to a wider pool of potential customers. When more people interact with your content, engage with your brand, and use your products and services, you will enjoy greater financial benefits.
Avoid ADA lawsuits
Having a fully accessible website will help you avoid ADA lawsuits, effectively saving you money that could have been spent on legal fees and penalties. In a case pitting Domino’s against a blind man named Guillermo Robles, the Supreme Court ruled that the pizza giant could be held liable for non-compliance with ADA.
Improve your SEO
By enhancing the usability and functionality of your site, you stand a better chance of gaining higher organic search engine rankings. These rankings will improve your online visibility and help you generate more traffic.
It is the right thing to do
Responsible businesses provide everyone with equal opportunities without discriminating. Web accessibility not only ensures fairness but is also a moral and ethical obligation and can help you build a positive brand image.
Key steps to making your Shopify store ADA compliant
As a Shopify store owner, you should take time to familiarize yourself with ADA and the important steps towards achieving compliance. Below are a few changes you can make to your site to comply with ADA, your business’s success, and insulate your online store from legal action.
Review the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
The guidelines will recommend some of the ways to make your site accessible. Under WCAG, your website should be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Looking at these guidelines will help you figure out the specific aspects of your site that need to be fixed or improved.
Conduct an audit of your website
Once you understand the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, you will need to audit your site. There are various tools that you can use to check for accessibility issues like missing alt tags, styles, buttons, headings, and links. This information will enable you to identify what is working and what is not.
Make the site visually accessible
To ensure the site is accessible to people with visual impairment or severe learning disabilities, you should change contrast, increase the font size, ensure text is properly spaced, and removing unnecessary pop-ups. You can also make sure that the site is friendly to screen readers.
Consider those who are deaf or hard of hearing
People who are deaf and hard of hearing face numerous challenges when surfing the web. To accommodate such people, you can ensure that all audio elements on your online store are accessible. For instance, writing transcripts of all audio will ensure everyone can read the information they need.
Utilize web writing best practices
When developing content for your Shopify Store, you will have to adhere to best practices. Make sure that the web content is simple and conversational so that all users can access the information they need easily. Headlines and subheading will also make it easier to scan the content.
Ensure easy navigation through keyboard control
Apart from making it easy for visitors to access information, ensure that they can move from one page to another without frustration. Keyboard navigation is an alternative to mouse control that will help the visually impaired and those with fewer motor skills to use their keyboards to navigate your online store.
Use real shopper feedback
To ensure long-term compliance, you should have an ongoing maintenance plan in place. When doing this, it is important to use real shopper feedback to understand the user experience and learn the specific areas that need to be improved to help you avoid trouble with the law and take care of your customers.
In case you do not have the time and budget to make your Shopify Store ADA compliant, there are certain tools you can use to achieve this. Currently, Shopify offers several options for platform accessibility and ADA compliance. These are the Accessibility Toolkit, Accessibly Enabler, and Accessibly app. To ensure your Shopify Store is ADA and WCAG compliant, you should consult with your developer to identify the apps that will work best for your tech stack.
In the end, web accessibility will offer your Shopify Store numerous benefits. At ATTN Agency, we are committed to helping you achieve success through performance and growth digital marketing. Contact us to learn more and request our services.