Accessibility in websites boils down to about the same thing as accessibility in everyday life. It is strongly encouraged for public buildings to have wheelchair ramps wherever applicable, handicap parking spots, and other forms of accessibility that help disabled people of nearly every kind. The same applies to websites, we, as web developers, are strongly encouraged to build our websites to comply with Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act.
Section 508 is a piece of legislation that states exactly what is required for compliance with the accessibility rules, much like how the W3C states that you must close your tags in the order they were opened, etc, in order to have a valid XHTML website, except this is mandated by the US Government.
So why is accessibility so important? Well, number one should be obvious, if your website is section 508 compliant, then you will be able to reach the most number of users and have them able to easily access nearly any area of your website. You want this, of course! What if you lost one sale per day because a user with special needs could not access the area to check out and pay for his or her purchase? That one sale a day would add up to a great number in a short time.
The number 2 reason that having a section 508 compliant website is important is because you could likely be sued! It happened to the US retail giant Target, and lately more and more cases have been popping up as a result of that landmark (as far as I can tell) litigation. In early 2006, Target was sued by the National Federation of the Blind for refusing to make their website accessible. Eventually it turned into a class action lawsuit, and just last month target settled to the tune of $6 Million.
That’s right. Accessibility is a big part of websites, and if you refuse to comply with it, it could cause your company bankruptcy, or at least a great deal of bad press. We at Trademark try our best to make every website we develop comply with the latest standards both by W3C and Section 508, as well as the author standards authorities out there. If you’re concerned you’re losing sales because of accessibility issues, please Contact Us and we’ll help you out!