Why Ignoring Web Accessibility can Turn into a PR Disaster

Web Accessibility and PR

Did you know that more than 2000 web accessibility lawsuits are filed every year?

Or that majority of these businesses have settled these lawsuits with thousands or even millions of dollars as compensation?

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It’s no news that huge names such as Netflix, Target, Nike, and Domino’s have been slapped with such lawsuits. Apart from massive monetary settlements, these lawsuits hit their PR badly.

If you think SMBs are not at risk then you’re wrong!

Many small and medium-sized businesses are being hit by these lawsuits each year, resulting in up to $20,000 to $50,000 in losses and years of trying to rebuild their brand’s reputation. In fact, 60% of ADA lawsuits filed in the year 2018 were on small and medium-sized businesses.

This is why ADA (Americans with Disability Act) compliance is super-important for any company’s PR. Not only does it help them avoid bad publicity, but it also helps with improving the brand’s reputation.

What is web accessibility? What does ADA compliance mean?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that was passed in 1990. This act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of life, including the online world.

What does ADA compliance mean for your website? It means inclusivity and prevention of discrimination against individuals with disabilities such as visual impairment, hearing impairment, mental and cognitive disabilities, and similar others.

Resources such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) can deepen our understanding and help us with web accessibility compliance.

Why are web accessibility lawsuits on the rise?

Several factors contribute to this. However, the most prominent reason would be the boom of eCommerce, especially with the pandemic upon us.

With no option of leaving their homes, it has become necessary for disabled people to get things done online.

And with a whopping 20% of the American population being disabled in some way, accessibility is no longer a mere choice for businesses like yours.

And what is shocking is that a considerable number of businesses have been hit by ADA lawsuits multiple times.

This is why businesses have realized that web accessibility is not a one-time thing. ADA compliance is an ongoing process, and it needs to be tended to frequently.

Recent studies by accessiBe, an automated web accessibility solution that included a survey of 10,000,000 websites across the web for accessibility compliance, revealed some shocking results:

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This has been an eye-opening revelation for many businesses. No one is spared from these dreadful ADA lawsuits, and one might be waiting for you as well!

How does web accessibility non-compliance lead to bad PR?

In 2016, Domino’s, one of the biggest pizza companies, was sued by a blind man saying that he couldn’t order pizza online with his screen reading software.

This led to a massive ruckus amongst the masses and got a lot of bad PR for the pizza company.

To further worsen the situation, the company’s immediate response was to show a lack of empathy towards people with disabilities. This led to an even worse reputation and bad media for the company.

Their twitter page was flooded with negative comments, and this led to a lot of bad media coverage for the company.

This is why, over the years, web accessibility is gaining increased attention.

Even a small slip-up could lead to a lot of bad PR for your company. Apart from the monetary losses, the loss of your brand’s online reputation could even be irreversible.

How do you prevent web accessibility from damaging your PR?

Now that you know how an ADA lawsuit can lead to a PR disaster and tarnish your brand’s reputation forever, it’s time for you to take action.

The wisest marketing decision that you can make today is to invest in your website’s accessibility. This one small step can save you from years worth of bad PR and thousands of dollars.

Why is it essential to invest in web accessibility solutions?

ADA compliance cannot be done in one go. With the ever-changing compliance guidelines and more content being added to your website each day, it is imperative to get compliance audits done and issues fixed frequently.

Also, accessibility compliance is not something that you can get done by one of your SEOs. It consists of many different aspects ranging from color contrasts, alt images, web page hierarchy, keyboard navigation, UI adjustments, and many more.

This can be taken care of by accessibility specialists. But of course, manually going through all your web pages, identifying accessibility issues, and fixing them will be a costly affair. And you also need to factor in the risks that tag along with doing the process manually.

In such cases, you need accessibility solutions that automate the audits and fixes at least every 24 to 48 hours on your website. accessiBe is one such budget-friendly AI-powered software that you can set and forget.

All you have to do is add a piece of code to your website, and the tool takes care of the rest – accessibility audits and fixes every 24 hours.

And, you also get to put up accessibility acceptance statements and certifications on your website. This leads to a good brand reputation and your brand will be projected in good light for supporting inclusivity.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, ADA compliance is a win-win situation for you and your customers.

By complying with ADA and encouraging an anti-discriminatory atmosphere, your brand is going to catch good PR, and you’re going to stand out amongst your competitors.

So make this small investment today and save your brand from a PR disaster.

How are you planning to take care of your website’s ADA compliance? Let us know!

 

Hazel Raoult is the Marketing Manager at PRmention, a digital PR agency for SaaS and Tech Businesses.