A website accessibility checklist is tailored specifically for small businesses of all sizes. In today’s interconnected world, having an online presence is crucial for businesses of all sizes. For small businesses, in particular, an accessible and user-friendly website can be a powerful tool to attract new customers, foster brand loyalty, and ensure a level playing field in the competitive digital landscape.
In our quest to create a more inclusive online environment, small businesses play a pivotal role. Oftentimes, these enterprises form the lifeblood of local communities, representing diverse products and services. By taking proactive steps to make their websites more accessible, they can extend their reach, engage with a broader audience, and contribute to a society that values diversity and equal access to information.
In this comprehensive guide, we present a Website Accessibility Checklist tailored specifically for small businesses. This checklist offers a step-by-step roadmap to identify, address, and rectify potential accessibility barriers that may hinder certain users from fully experiencing and engaging with their website content. From optimizing visuals and navigation to embracing assistive technologies, we empower small businesses to make their websites a space that is welcoming to all.
What is inclusive small businesses?
The key to an inclusive business is meeting the needs of all your potential customers, irrespective of their abilities. This means keeping in mind accessibility best practices so you can cater to your full audience. In fact, one in four Americans live with a disability—that’s about 61 million people!
Odds are, potential customers who may be living with disabilities may be looking for your business online but require additional accessibility features to truly get the full picture of your brand.
You have to keep in mind to design your website to be accessible to this overlooked population or risk losing nearly a quarter of your audience. This website accessibility checklist will help you make your website accessible to all your customers.
What does website accessibility mean for small businesses?
The accessibility of your small business website can either make or break customer experience and your online reputation. If your website is accessible to visitors with disabilities then it means your site follows the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Website accessibility indicates that everything within your site is designed with people with disabilities in mind. In other words, site items and features like navigation, headings, images, hyperlinks, videos, and more are designed to meet the needs of those with physical, cognitive, visual, auditory, or speech impairments.
Why is website accessibility important?
Not only is maintaining website accessibility the right thing to do, but it also is a requirement for your business’s site as per the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In fact, there were over 2,500 ADA website accessibility lawsuits filed in federal courts within just the past few years.
While you definitely don’t want any lawsuits to damage your brand reputation and cause you to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, it’s also important to keep in mind that making your website accessible provides a better customer experience to your audience.
Here are a few other eye-opening statistics about the importance of website accessibility:
- In 2023, sites that fully follow Website Content Accessibility Guidelines are estimated to outperform their competitors by 50%.
- 62% of adults with a disability own a laptop or desktop computer, and 72% own a smartphone.
- People with disabilities, along with their families, friends, advocates, and caretakers, are estimated to hold over $13 trillion in annual disposable income worldwide.
- Website accessibility can help your business stand out from your competition.
- Almost 40% of customers call out a high level of accessibility as a reason behind their purchase with a business.
It is now clear that website accessibility isn’t just a nice add-on feature on your business website, it’s a must-have!
The ultimate website accessibility checklist for small businesses
Use this website accessibility checklist to expand your inclusive marketing strategy:
1. High-quality alt-text on images
Image descriptions or alternate text adds value to your website and helps the visitors with vision impairments!
Meaningful alt-text provides context to a picture by showcasing not only what the image is of but also the purpose behind it.
2. Captions in video content
Make sure your video content is accessible to all—including those with hearing impairments. This is more important, as nearly 5 million people worldwide have a hearing disability and need captions in order to fully watch a video.
Include accurate captions on all your videos to enable people with hearing disabilities to understand and consume video content online.
3. Color contrast
Did you know there are 300 million colorblind people worldwide? With that, comes the need for your website to have the correct color contrast that can accommodate your customers’ varying visual abilities.
Use the recommended color contrast between background and foreground website elements to enable people with low-vision, blindness, and vision impairments to navigate your site without any issues.
4. Keyboard-friendly browsing
Make sure your website is navigable with keyboard controls only. To check this, try browsing your website with just a keyboard!
That way, you can find any keyboard traps, un-clickable elements, or illogical navigation steps before your customers do.
5. Avoid flashing elements
Flashes, strobe light effects, and more can all be triggers for seizures for those with impairments.
If you have flashing elements, provide the option to pause or disable them. Otherwise, it’s best to stay away from any flash feature that could be difficult to view for those with disability or sensitivity issues.
6. Add an auto-fill option for forms
Not only does including an auto-fill option for forms help businesses drive leads, but it also ensures an inclusive experience for your customers.
Whether you’re looking to get website visitors to sign up for an email newsletter, complete a purchase, or anything more, make it as easy as possible to do so. Invest in tools that can auto-fill data for your customers.
7. Alert users when they make mistakes
Users with disabilities can encounter a barrier on your website or get trapped in a particular section, in such cases, provide alerts or notifications.
This will help visitors with disabilities to navigate smoothly and provide a richer browsing experience.
8. Easy-to-identify links
Use descriptive text for hyperlinks that will provide users with additional information about the page they are navigating to.
For example, instead of just linking your product landing page as “click here,” you could have the link say “learn more about our product.”
9. Descriptive section headings
People with disabilities may not be able to navigate your website if it does not have a logical heading hierarchy.
Make your section headings clear by using descriptive language to separate the content. This will ensure your page structure is still easy to understand when there are no styles enabled.
10. High contrast between text and other elements
Your website’s text is the most important element on your pages because it pulls together the story your brand is trying to tell.
You want that text to pop and be easy to read—even in situations where your viewer has a dimmed screen, is colorblind, or is dealing with other varied abilities.
While it can be fun to play around with your brand colors, you’ll usually want to stick to having your text either be black or white depending on your background.
11. Make your website elements predictable
Avoid having too many confusing elements on your website. In other words, people should be able to guess what happens next after they click on a link, video, button, or other elements.
This will help visitors with disabilities to avoid frustration when trying to interact with your site.
When users are able to intuitively jump from page to page with ease you’re also more likely to hit the SEO metrics you need for success, like time on site.
12. Use thoughtful and inclusive language
When it comes to the messaging for your brand, use inclusive language that is sensitive towards people of all abilities. Avoid any language that’s insensitive or hard to understand must be at the core of any businesses’ marketing strategy.
13. Follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
The guidelines for web content accessibility are not based on established laws. Instead, they are recommendations developed by a global team of experts.
This group, known as the World Wide Web Consortium, created web standards that have since been universally accepted as an effective means of making online content accessible to all users.
Following these guidelines has an effect on an enormous number of customers. In the United States alone, an estimated 61 million adults have at least one disability.
The WCAG is complex and lengthy, and it might feel intimidating to dive into the details. Fortunately, they’ve been broken into four general categories to help make the information more digestible:
- Perceivable: All information on your site must be presented in a manner that’s easily perceivable by one or more senses. For example, you should provide text equivalents for all non-text content, like images and tables.
- Operable: Your website must be easy to navigate. This includes building the core functionality of your site so it can be navigated using a keyboard and mouse.
- Understandable: Ensure that all content is easy to understand. For instance, you should build your site in a way that makes its operation and appearance predictable.
- Robust: Your website should be developed so it can be interpreted by various devices and platforms, such as assistive technologies like screen readers.
Incorporating WCAG into the design, content, and development of your website allows users with disabilities to fully experience and explore what your business has to offer. It also helps you to create a site that’s ADA compliant.
14. Consider the Americans with Disabilities Act
The ADA, signed into law in 1990, was originally designed to make sure that people with disabilities are properly accommodated in physical locations, including businesses, schools, government buildings, and housing.
The ADA applies to any and all disabilities, including restricted mobility, vision or hearing impairment, and mental illness.
In general, the US Department of Justice now considers websites to fall under Title III of the ADA, which states that businesses that offer public accommodation must comply. This is in addition to Title I compliance, which applies to any employer with 15 or more employees.
Why compliance matters for small businesses?
Although there is an ongoing debate about the categories of websites that fall under the requirements of the ADA, it is best practice to make sure your site is compatible. It is better to err on the side of caution when it comes to accessibility for several reasons:
- Failure to comply can lead to costly ADA violation fines.
- Failing to make a website accessible alienates an enormous pool of potential customers.
- Accessibility allows your website to rank higher in search results.
- Providing equal access is morally and ethically necessary.
Small businesses can ensure total website compliance to avoid fines
Businesses that fail to meet ADA requirements face fines of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention potential lawsuits, damage to reputation, and loss of customers.
Small businesses can ensure total website compliance to avoid legal ramifications and foster a welcoming digital space for all users. With an increasing focus on digital accessibility, adherence to web accessibility standards is not merely an option but a necessity.
By implementing a proactive approach to compliance, small businesses can safeguard themselves against potential lawsuits, fines, and reputational damage while demonstrating their commitment to inclusivity and social responsibility. Embracing website compliance involves adhering to international accessibility guidelines, optimizing content for assistive technologies, ensuring compatibility across various devices, and conducting regular accessibility audits. Through this concerted effort, small businesses can create a truly inclusive online environment that extends their reach, strengthens customer loyalty, and contributes to a more equitable digital landscape for everyone.
As a bonus here is a 4-Step website audit checklist for small businesses
As a business, your website is one of the easiest ways for you to engage with your audience. When a potential customer wants to learn more about your business, the first place they will look is your website. When a current customer decides to make a purchase they will go online because it will be fast and easy.
Unfortunately, many websites fall short of making their website accessible and inclusive to all. To make sure your website is optimized here is a website audit checklist.
Step 1: Conduct interviews or focus groups with target audiences
The best way to know how if your website is accessible to your customers is to talk to users with disabilities and get their feedback about any accessibility issues.
Step 2: Complete a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) audit of your website
The more accessibility features you incorporate on your website, such as alt text for images, captions for videos, the higher it will rank on search engine results.
Step 3: Copyedit your website content
Make sure to audit your website content for grammatical errors, spelling errors, and more. Doing this will ensure your users with disabilities will have a pleasant experience while navigating your site.
Step 4: Evaluate your design choices
Evaluate your website design to enhance the message that you are trying to communicate about your business. Check your website on a variety of browsers and devices.
Consumers won’t necessarily be using a computer or smartphone that is the same as yours. Make sure your website looks consistent across browsers and devices. If not, you may need to make it more desktop or mobile-responsive.
Who we are?
codemantra is a leading Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) Solutions Provider. Its AI-driven platform automates digital document accessibility compliance; captures, classifies, and extracts data; and transforms documents to the desired output format.
How codemantra helps?
codemantra’s accessibilityInsight remediates digital documents in various formats. It makes documents in PDFs, PPT, Word, Excel, ePub accessible. The output is compliant as per ADA, Section 508, Section 504, WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards.
We provide everything from self-help tools, audits, remediation, and implementation support to help you stay on top of accessibility challenges with a very cost-effective solution .
Contact us at 1 (800) 769-9715. Email us at email@example.com for more information on how to make your documents accessible.