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The Dangers of Web Inaccessibility

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Amanda Cunningham

Dominos Pizza has recently been sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because a blind customer couldn’t fully use the pizza chain’s website through screen reading software. The court’s ruling that Dominos was required under ADA to provide “auxiliary aids and services” to the visually impaired has sparked concerns in the business community.

This court decision — and the uncertainty around web accessibility requirements and where they apply in general — could impact how companies manage their digital experiences and overall web presence going forward. Let’s dive deeper into why this court case matters, and how CrafterCMS can help organizations avoid the same fate as Dominos.

Why Businesses Should Be Concerned

This court case and many others regarding web accessibility create uncertainty for companies that have a large and growing web presence. The ruling brings accessibility to the forefront for many organizations because they now risk web accessibility lawsuits with no firm rules that they can adhere to. Among the business groups mentioned, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce expressed concern that the uncertainty around web accessibility standards could lead to more related lawsuits, and possibly even cause businesses to reduce their web presence to limit these risks.

At the center of the problem is a lack of federal standards for web accessibility. Dominos remarked that every business “must figure out how to make every image on its website or app sufficiently accessible to the blind, how to render every video or audio file sufficiently available to the deaf, or how to provide content to those who cannot operate a computer or mobile phone.” This is an enormous challenge for companies as their online presence and the content they publish grows at a rapid pace, yet there’s still no federal standard to guide organizations.

CrafterCMS Enables Accessibility and Regulatory Compliance

With no single set of rules available regarding accessibility under the court of law, perhaps it’s best to leverage technologies that make adhering to a wide variety of standards and best-practices more straightforward. Let’s look at the capabilities that make Crafter ready for web accessibility compliance.

Clean Web Pages

One of the issues with many CMSs like Drupal and Wordpress is that they introduce themes and other flashy design features. These bloated templates may block accessibility compliance with poorly contrasting colors or additional scripts that limit screen readers from picking up on built-in cues. Often times, these design features are user-contributed as well, so they may not follow best-practices for accessibility at all. You may have to take the creator’s word for it when they say their theme is accessible or accessibility-ready.

With Crafter, however, templates and web pages can be developed using any frontend frameworks like React, Angular, Vue, Bootstrap or Freemarker using only best-practices that comply with most web standards. Crafter won’t include additional code or scripting at runtime that could block compliance so you’re able to meet all accessibility requirements, whether you choose a traditional or headless approach. Your developers have full control over the content and code that your company publishes.

Adaptive Design

A key aspect of web accessibility is detecting the device that a user is viewing (or listening) from and adapting the experience to better suit their needs. This could mean responsive web pages that adjust to different screen sizes or providing alternative text for users that cannot view images. Many CMS solutions struggle to enable adaptive design.

Crafter is built for highly dynamic experiences, so it’s straightforward for companies to following adaptive design best-practices. The Crafter Engine could detect a screen reading device, for example, and respond with different JSON or another template than if the user was viewing from a web browser.

Media Support

Another area where most CMSs are holding back companies from delivering highly accessible experiences is with audiovisual content. CrafterCMS, however, has integrated with AWS Elemental Media Services through its Crafter Video Center Blueprint so that companies can efficiently deliver rich media experiences at scale. Along with live streaming and video-on-demand (VOD) capabilities, it’s possible to transcribe audio or video and even translate it in real-time. Leveraging AWS MediaLive, the viewing experience can be optimized for each end-user.

Automated Testing

A surefire way to limit the risk exposure to accessibility issues is leveraging automated testing tools. The problem is that many CMS solutions cannot easily integrate with a CI/CD pipeline or automation software like Jenkins because content repositories are traditional SQL databases.

Crafter, however, is developer-friendly and stores content as XML (text) files. With API hooks or other DevContentOps workflow integration techniques, companies can use automated testing to check the content and web pages for compliance much more easily. This way, whenever new web content is pushed, it can be tested with a variety of auditing tools for not only web accessibility, but SEO compliance as well.

Additional Plugins

Along with integrating CrafterCMS into DevContentOps processes, developers can install a plugin that marketers can run within Crafter Studio to check for web compliance. Marketers can use a 508 compliance checker, for example, to determine what needs to be updated or remediated. This will ensure that not only developers are striving for better web compliance, but marketers are involved as well.

Don’t Take The Accessibility Risk

Exposure to legal issues with poor web accessibility isn’t worth the risk. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce stated: “the surest way to avoid such costs is to reduce online offerings and innovations in the first place, hurting consumers—including the very individuals the ADA seeks to protect.” But reducing your web presence isn’t the right move for driving positive business outcomes, as content-rich customer experiences are crucial in the digital age.

Unfortunately, remediating inaccessible legacy websites is often challenging as well. That’s why you should revamp your tech stack to enable web accessibility without the headache. Consider a platform that’s ready to comply with any future accessibility standards like CrafterCMS. Clean, adaptable web designs and automated auditing tools are essential to limiting exposure to legal issues. With CrafterCMS, you don’t have to take the risk.

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