By Leader Contributor Jenny Goldade
Is your firm at risk for accessibility-related litigation? More and more funeral homes across North America are dealing with lawsuits focusing on their websites.
If your website isn’t accessible to people with disabilities, you could be violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and similar laws.
To provide education and solutions, MKJ Marketing Head of Strategy Courtney Gould Miller and UserWay COO Dr. Lionel Wolberger teamed up to host a free webinar in June.
This article highlights some of the expertise that was shared during the webinar. To watch the full webinar recording, click here.
What Website Accessibility Actually Means
How do you know if your website is accessible? The first step is to think of a website as more than just a page you view in your browser. People navigate your website in many ways — whether they’re visually or motor impaired or have another type of disability.
“When you deal with accessibility, you’re dealing with people who never see your page,” Wolberger said. “Maybe because they’re blind, or you’re dealing with people who cannot reach out to swipe on the phone or move their pointer. They move it by relying on the keyboard or an eye tracker.”
What features make your website more accessible? There are about 300 web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) in total. Here are just a few of them:
- Adding alternative text to your images for people who need the text read aloud.
- Making sure the order of your website content makes sense for people using keyboard-only navigation.
- Adjusting the color contrast so people can better read your text and view images.
How ADA Compliance Helps Everyone
Similar to how your physical business needs wheelchair ramps and other accommodations to become more accessible to everyone, so does your website.
Wolberger describes this as the curb-cut effect.
“Sure, that wheelchair user needs that curb cut, but so does a bicycle rider,” Wolberger said. “So does this person wheeling their baggage. So does this mother with a stroller … the curb-cut effect is what we use to say that when you make your site and services accessible, you are actually helping everyone.”
For your website, it’s like when you implement a screen reader tool to accommodate the visually impaired. This also benefits the aging community who have low vision and those who prefer to have the text read out loud to them for better comprehension.
How “At Risk” Are You?
Even if you’re a one-person business, everyone is at risk of receiving an ADA-related lawsuit. Your website needs to be accessible to people with disabilities and the aging population. This is especially important for funeral businesses, which work with senior citizens more frequently.
Wolberger said that lawyers are on the hunt for non-compliant websites.
“[Lawyers] are literally copying and pasting these complaints and sending them,” Wolberger said. “Some law firms send out eight to 20 per day. Accessibility-driven lawsuits are skyrocketing, and this has caused increasing awareness for legal compliance. This goes in tandem with the aging population globally and the fact that commerce is moving to digital. Physical access becomes digital access.”
There are many laws that apply to ADA compliance. You don’t need to memorize all of them. Just know that rules regarding web accessibility are a trend worldwide.
For example, not complying with the State of California’s Unruh Act could cost $4,000 per violation, plus legal fees. That could be for each image without alt text, each page without a focus order, and so on. ADA fines range from $55,000 to $75,000 for first-time violations and $150,000 for every repeat violation.
How to Improve Compliance Fast
What’s the solution? Tribute Technology recently partnered with web accessibility expert UserWay to offer Tribute Accessibility, powered by UserWay. Tribute Technology delivers this innovative product through its network of Premier Partners, including leading providers such as FrontRunner Professional, MKJ Marketing, SRS Computing, Funeral Tech, CFS, and others.
UserWay’s widget inserts a single line of code into your website. It uses AI technology to get stronger over time. It constantly reviews and updates your website to become more ADA compliant. People who visit your website will see the UserWay icon and know you’re working to be more accessible to everyone.
Courtney Gould Miller compares this widget to having a home security sign in your front lawn.
“It informs somebody, ‘Hey, we’re prepared. We know what’s happening,’” she said, “Not only for, of course, the people that we would love to be able to access the site but also for lawyers who might be looking around to see who to target next.”