In this blog, I’d like to talk a little bit about American with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility and your websites, quickly covering some emerging issues and simple corrective actions you can take.
If you are an auto dealer in Florida or New York, your website is likely under scrutiny by lawyers representing potential customers. They review your site to see if it is accessible to potential customers with disabilities, as required by the Americans With Disabilities Act. In 2018, there were over 2,200 ADA compliance lawsuits filed – with almost 1,600 of them being in New York alone. The challenge of accessibility for dealers is made harder by a lack of agreement on the definition of “ADA Compliant” in the courts. Also, sites with large inventories and technical details, such as VIN numbers, are particularly difficult to make accessible.
As a dealer, what are you to do? The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) developed a set of standards – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) – which are now on their second version. Dealer websites should meet at least WCAG 2.1 Level A accessibility guidelines at a minimum and should strive to meet Level AA guidelines where practical. These guidelines focus on four areas known as POUR:
- Perceivable – the tags and directions on the site should be evident and give the user a sense for what the form, button or link does.
- Operable – the site should be navigable with a keyboard or a mouse.
- Understandable – any messages and directions should be written clearly.
- Robust – the design should work with most browsers and assistive technologies.
The W3C has a quick review checklist for accessibility to assess your current website for accessibility against WCAG requirements. As a dealer, you should take a few minutes and check your sites, identify any obvious areas of weakness, and work with your website provider and digital marketing agency to bring the site in line with the WCAG 2.1 A Standards.
When fusionZONE builds a website, we start with an approach that is designed to meet WCAG 2.1 A Standards:
- All images uploaded to an FZ dealer’s site can be configured with an ‘alt’ text by the user.
- FZ’s new web platform removes the need to use PDFs, as the responsive web platform was designed and built using text-based formats and is compatible with leading assistive technologies.
- FZ provides the tools necessary to ensure our dealer’s websites have every opportunity to remain compliant with this standard. However, please note that brand compliance standards impact the ability of the solution to always meet optimal standards right out of the box– think colors and red-green color blindness, for instance.
- FZ gives users (dealers) the tools and options to choose colors, sizing and font settings and the ability to implement color schemes to align with the dealer’s brand, where possible. A dealer maintains ultimate control over its website visitors’ web experience, and as such, can sometimes override brand and compliance guidelines.
- FZ website tools enable a dealer to frame-in a video on their website and to also include related videos on their Vehicle Details Page (VDP). In both cases, if the video includes an audio description (text captions, etc.), the video and supporting elements will render correctly on the dealer’s FZ website.
- We offer Audioeye (www.audioeye.com) as an add-on which provides voice navigation and other accessibility options.
Will this prevent an enterprising lawyer from suing your dealership? No. Will using a fusionZONE website, focusing on accessibility in design and applying available accessibility tools reduce your exposure and risk? Yes.