He might not be able to ogle any Playboy Bunnies, but according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Donald Nixon should be able to access Playboy’s websites just like everyone else.
In yet another example of why businesses need to ensure their websites are accessible, Nixon, who’s legally blind, has sued Playboy, alleging its websites, Playboy.com and Playboyshop.com, are not accessible to the visually-impaired.
Nixon filed the lawsuit on November 28, 2018, claiming Playboy is violating the ADA, as its websites are allegedly incompatible with his screen-reader software.
The ADA is similar to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), as both bills were enacted to make things more accessible for people with disabilities.
So, for business owners in Ontario, this lawsuit should act as a reminder of what can happen if your website isn’t accessible.
You can be fined, sued, or lose out on potential customers who can’t access your site, and you’re not doing your reputation any favours either.
Check out our blog on AODA compliance for more information.
If you want your website to be more accessible and meet all the requirements outlined in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, check out The Best Media’s AODA compliance service.
Follow These AODA Compliance Guidelines to Protect Your Business
If you want your website to be AODA compliant, you have to follow the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0), which outline three levels of compliance – Level A, Level AA and Level AAA.
Watch the following video for an introduction to web accessibility.
As of January 2014, all new websites, web content, or websites that are significantly redesigned, published by non-profit organizations and large businesses are expected to abide by Level A compliance guidelines.
And as of January 2021, all websites and web content must abide by the Level A and Level AA guidelines.
Website owners who refuse to comply face severe financial penalties, including fines of up to $100,000 per day.
But understanding and implementing these guidelines is not easy.
Luckily, Luke McGrath from Wuhcag has spent many hours creating a handy little WCAG 2.0 checklist, breaking down these guidelines into the simplest terms possible.
I’m going to provide a summary of the Level A guidelines below, but please refer to the Wuhcag checklist for a detailed explanation of each guideline.
The Level A guidelines deal with what are considered the most basic features of web accessibility standards, which include:
- Providing captions on videos with audio
- Providing textual alternatives for all images, audio, video and controls
- Offering alternatives for audio-only or video-only content, such as transcripts
- Offering a second alternative for videos with audio, such as audio descriptions
- Ensuring every page has a language assigned to it and is using the correct HTML language code
- Ensuring your website doesn’t contain major coding errors and can be parsed by web browsers and assistive technologies
- Building all elements of your website with accessibility in mind, ensuring code conforms to HTML-like standards so your site will work with assistive technologies
- Presenting your content in a meaningful order
- Making sure your site doesn’t have automatic pop-ups
- Ensuring menus for navigation are separated from content
- Making sure nothing on your website flashes more than three times per second
- Making sure users can clearly understand where hyperlinks are going to take them
- Structuring your website in a logical way – this includes breaking up content with subheadings and clearly labelling all forms
- Using unique and descriptive page titles with clear formatting – this means putting the name of the page first, then the page description, and then the name of the website
- Ensuring users can fully use your website with only a keyboard
- Allowing users to pause, stop or hide blinking, moving, scrolling or auto-updating content
- Ensuring time-controlled content has user controls, letting users turn off and adjust time limits
- Not using audio that plays automatically and allowing users to choose when they want to hear audio – this helps users who have difficulty focusing and can be distracted by sounds
- Avoiding instructions that rely on audio
- Providing accessible instructions that are intelligible for all users
- Providing clear labelling and instructions for all forms and input fields
- Making it easy for people to identify and rectify mistakes they’ve made on your website, such as highlighting mandatory fields that have been left empty and explaining what’s required
- Not relying solely on colour when providing instructions or other info – this helps make your site accessible to the blind, who can’t perceive colours, or the colour blind, who may confuse colours
- Ensuring pages have a focus order that makes sense, which means they can be logically navigated using the ‘Tab’ key
- Providing an option for users to skip to content – this makes navigation easier for people who use screen readers or those who use a lot of zoom when they browse
- Ensuring elements don’t change on input – this means that when a user is filling out a form, for instance, it’s not going to submit automatically when all the fields are filled out
- Ensuring elements don’t change on focus – this means that when someone clicks on a text field, for instance, that element doesn’t change behaviourally or visually, which can be disorienting and can make keyboard navigation difficult
If you want to protect your business from getting fined or sued, you need to make sure your website adheres to the guidelines I’ve summarized above.
But keep in mind that as of January 2021, you’ll also be required to adhere to the Level AA guidelines. Check out the Wuhcag checklist and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to learn more about Level AA.
In any case, avoiding massive fines and lawsuits, not to mention reaping the benefits of having a more accessible website, are certainly worth the cost of making some updates.
Read our blog on the benefits of web accessibility standards to learn how making your website more accessible can benefit your business.
Don’t feel confident that you can implement all these changes on your own? Contact The Best Media and have peace of mind knowing our AODA compliance experts are ensuring your website abides by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.