With digital content accessibility having tangible implications for citizens and people with disabilities everywhere, ensuring your city websites accessibility are available to everyone should be your top priority.
Especially with state and many local governments and government city websites offering citizens multiple services like providing tax information, applications for essential government documents, and applying for jobs or benefits.
Whether you are redesigning an existing website or launching a new one does not matter. There are many reasons why having a site-accessible city website is so important. And we at ADA Site Compliance can help if you do not know how to ensure your site is accessible.
Our team of accessibility experts will check the site for accessibility and constantly monitor and keep it updated with the latest accessibility updates.
10 Reasons Why City Websites Need Improvement to Meet Resident Accessibility Needs and Expectations
Here are the ten reasons your city government website designers should design an ADA-compliant and accessible website:
1. Visitors Have a Better User Experience on Accessible Websites
Visitors have a better user experience on accessible websites. For example, visitors with visual impairments will be able to read your copy by accessing digital content with the help of a screen reader. In the case of users with cognitive impairments, they will be able to navigate across the website using a keyboard.
2. Improved Reach
There are about 8 billion people on earth with disabilities. An accessible website ensures this demographic can access and use your website. Excluding this majority of people will not be beneficial to any business at all.
After all, the more people you can reach, the higher the chances of reaching your business goals. So, a website that is easy for anyone to use and navigate will expand your reach to more people. It even makes your website pleasing and satisfactory to all manners of people, no matter why they use it.
3. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Standards for Local Government Websites
The ADA and, in the case of government entities with federal funding, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, require that city websites provide users with disabilities equal access to their digital content. In short, the law increasingly demands accessibility to users with visual, auditory, and physical limitations and disabilities to city websites.
4. Disabled Users Generally Use Assistive Technology on An Accessible Website
Many disabled users depend on assistive technology like screen readers to use computers and access online forms and digital content. Users with disabilities using assistive technologies like screen readers and voice recognition tools can access only compliant websites and not non-compliant websites.
5. Website Design Standards
Section 508 Standards are more than just guidelines ensuring local government should. They are required compliance elements government websites must follow, which are continually updated.
6. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1
WCAG is the acronym for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and was released in Dec. 2008. It is backed by the World Wide Web Consortium, representing the future direction of established accessibility standards and US web accessibility standards. These are the standards for web content accessibility guidelines that website owners and designers must comply with for ADA compliance.
7. Risk Facing Financial Consequences
If your city website fails to comply with ADA-established standards, you may unnecessarily face a financial penalty for non-compliance. Today’s law supports users with disabilities complaining about the inability to access vital websites. So, to avoid the time, effort, and money spent on a lawsuit, it is better to make website accessibility your top priority.
8. Improved SEO
The good news is that most accessibility features in WCAG guidelines overlap with the best SEO practices for optimal search rankings. Here is how it happens:
- Proper and good heading level structure from H1 to H6 (lowest) gives semantic meaning to the content on a web page. Users using screen readers to navigate web pages find it easier to understand pages with appropriate heading levels. Besides, proper headings also help search engine bots effectively crawl your page.
- The presence of descriptive alt text for website images helps users with visual impairments using assistive technologies to understand the image content. Search engine bots also use alt-text to read and better understand website images.
- Anchor text links tell readers what to expect upon clicking any web page link. Screen readers will also read this link description aloud to let users know what the linked page contains.
- Sitemaps are generally meant to highlight the different website pages and relationships. Screen readers also rely on them to navigate and find important website information. Search engines also use sitemaps to crawl and index your website correctly.
- Video and audio transcripts help users with hearing or visual impairments understand a website’s audio or video content. It also helps search engines understand the audio or video content better because search engines cannot play media.
9. Helps Avoid Negative PR
Most importantly, the internet offers users a platform to voice out on critical matters. This coincides with the increased number of people speaking up as they grow aware of their rights.
So, if your website is not accessible, it means you may end up depriving people of access to vital information and opportunities. This also means that there is a chance people will soon realize that you are depriving them of their opportunity to access vital resources.
This can put your company’s reputation at stake. And most importantly, the PR consequences can end up being disastrous.
10. Non-Compliant Design Can Form a Barrier to Content
A poorly designed city website creates barriers to disabled citizens from accessing valuable city information. It can limit and even inhibit their ability to obtain all the information they need from the site. For example, users with visual impairments may not be able to see city images on the website. On the contrary, screen readers can learn more about an idea if it contains alt text.
We receive so many questions about website accessibility that we decided to share some of the most frequently asked ones here.
1. Why Improve Website Accessibility?
Improving website accessibility ensures you provide the best user experience for all visitors to city websites on mobile devices, including disabled users. It even helps enhance the user experience, leading to more visits and possible conversions.
2. What are 2 Reasons to Include Accessibility Considerations for Your Website?
Two main reasons for you to include accessibility considerations to your website include broadening your reach and audience size and avoiding unnecessary legal litigation.
3. Why is it Important to Design a Website for Accessibility that Benefits From Increased Visibility?
Businesses must design a website for accessibility to increase the website’s reach and reach a broader audience. The business benefits from the increased visibility and consequent increase in website visitors.
4. How Does Improved Accessibility on a Website Impact Everyone?
Improved website accessibility provides for a better user experience for all users. It leads to lower average bounce rates and longer average visitor visits, which can help with SEO.
There you go. You now have the ten reasons why you must make your website an accessible site. Accessibility is essential for any local or state government city website to reach a wider audience through broader online reach.
Making the website accessible undoubtedly requires time, effort, and investment. And it is well worth it as it increases your website visitors and possible prospects while preventing litigations.
However, there is no need to worry if you do not know how to make your local government website ADA-compliant. We at ADA Site Compliance can help. We are the #1 source for all ADA website compliance issues and can make your city website accessible to all visitors.
Have a question?
We’re always here to help.
The ADA prohibits any private businesses that provide goods or services to the public, referred to as “public accommodations,” from discriminating against those with disabilities. Federal courts have ruled that the ADA includes websites in the definition of public accommodation. As such, websites must offer auxiliary aids and services to low-vision, hearing-impaired, and physically disabled persons, in the same way a business facility must offer wheelchair ramps, braille signage, and sign language interpreters, among other forms of assistance.
All websites must be properly coded for use by electronic screen readers that read aloud to sight-impaired users the visual elements of a webpage. Additionally, all live and pre-recorded audio content must have synchronous captioning for hearing-impaired users.
Websites must accommodate hundreds of keyboard combinations, such as Ctrl + P to print, that people with disabilities depend on to navigate the Internet.
Litigation continues to increase substantially. All business and governmental entities are potential targets for lawsuits and demand letters. Recent actions by the Department of Justice targeting businesses with inaccessible websites will likely create a dramatic increase of litigation risk.
Big box retailer Target Corp. was ordered to pay $6 million – plus $3.7 million more in legal costs – to settle a landmark class action suit brought by the National Federation of the Blind. Other recent defendants in these cases have included McDonald’s, Carnival Cruise Lines, Netflix, Harvard University, Foot Locker, and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Along with these large companies, thousands of small businesses have been subject to ADA website litigation.
Defendants in ADA lawsuits typically pay plaintiff's legal fees, their own legal fees for defending the litigation, and potential additional costs. In all, the average cost can range from tens of thousands of dollars, to above six figures. There are also high intangible costs, such as added stress, time and human capital, as well as reputational damage. Furthermore, if the remediation is incomplete, copycat suits and serial filers can follow, meaning double or triple the outlay. It's vital to implement a long-term strategy for ensuring your website is accessible and legally compliant.