Safeguarding Your Shopify Store from Accessibility Lawsuits
Accessibility for Shopify websites is still a hot topic, with a lot of confusion, lawsuits, and different solutions. Let's go over some basics and solutions that will help prevent frivolous accessibility lawsuits from hitting your Shopify store.
What's going on?
In short, we've heard that attorneys have been threatening companies with lawsuits if their website is not "accessible", with settlements ranging from $5,000 to $75,000 per instance if the company doesn't "fix" their site.
What is Accessible?
Technically speaking, accessibility is defined by the requirements laid out by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and it's often conflated with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Non-technically, it's giving someone with a disability, like limited or no sight or hearing, the ability to experience all elements of your website. For example, someone without sight is not able to see images or form fields on your website, so they need alternative text to inform as to the content of each image. Someone without hearing cannot listen to a narrated video, so they need captions.
How We Evaluate Accessibility
To determine whether a site is accessible, we use a checklist called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1, or WCAG, created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). They have three levels: A, AA, and AAA. As of this writing, to be considered accessible, a website has to meet WCAG 2.1 AA.
How Bad is it?
Most non-governmental websites are *not* completely accessible. In a sense, any website that does not meet the criteria for a compliant website could be a target. In fact, in most cases, unless "Section 508 compliance" was listed as a project requirement, most websites out there are not compliant, and therefore a potential target.
Solving Accessibility Issues
There are various ways to try and get your site closer to compliance. You can hire a Developer that specializes in Accessibility to improve your website. There are also quite a few apps and services that will help you avoid costly legal actions.
We have found a really great website plug-in that practically instantly brings a site into compliance with Section 508. Where we used to have to manually monitor a site, then manually fix all issues, then manually recheck a site periodically, we can now use this service to handle it all.
Most sites cost only $490/year for the drop-in, and we can have it installed in minutes. If you want to check it out for yourself, learn more here.
Contact us if you are interested in implementing this plugin. Ensuring your site is in compliance, and not a target, is extremely important.