The Importance Of Ensuring E-Commerce Accessibility For People With Disabilities

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Digital Accessibility And Its Impact On E-Commerce

Ensuring accessibility for e-commerce websites is essential for providing an inclusive online shopping experience. A Report by RespectAbility shows that inaccessible websites cause a significant loss of potential revenue; in fact, more than 70% of people with disabilities choose to leave these websites immediately. By removing barriers and making your online store accessible to people with disabilities, you can create a welcoming environment that caters to a broader customer base.

This article will explore the importance of digital accessibility for your e-commerce business and offer valuable tips to make it Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant and accessible for people with disabilities.

Why Is Accessibility Important For E-Commerce Websites?

Businesses should consider making their e-commerce websites accessible not just due to legal compliance but also because it opens up a massive, untapped market. According to the World Bank, people with disabilities have a global disposable income of about USD 8 trillion. Ensuring accessibility for all customers is crucial to provide equitable experiences for everyone, regardless of their abilities. By doing so, individuals with disabilities can shop independently and seamlessly access the same products, services, and information as others.
Here are some key points on why accessibility is crucial for e-commerce websites:
  1. Inclusivity: It ensures equal access for individuals with disabilities, promoting inclusivity.
  2. Legal Compliance: Meeting accessibility standards helps businesses comply with regulations and avoid legal issues.
  3. Expanded Customer Base: With a substantial global customer base of over one billion people with disabilities, tapping into this market segment can significantly benefit businesses.
  4. Enhanced User Experience: Accessibility improvements benefit all users, leading to better navigation and satisfaction.
  5. Improved SEO: Accessibility practices align with SEO best practices, boosting search engine visibility.
  6. Positive Reputation: Prioritizing accessibility builds trust, loyalty, and a positive brand image.
  7. Future-Proofing: Accessible design ensures compatibility with evolving technologies and user needs.

Tips to Ensure Your Ecommerce Business Is Accessible for People With Disabilities:

Investing in accessibility is a win-win situation that benefits both your business and the community. Here are a few best accessibility practices that will help you create a more accessible online store today and reap the benefits of inclusivity for your business:

Structured Content For Screen Readers

With approximately 2.2 billion people worldwide experiencing some form of visual impairment, it is essential to create an ADA compliant e-commerce website with an accessible online shopping experience that aids seamless browsing and purchases.
Structured content ensures a smooth reading experience for screen reader users on mobiles and browsers. Organizing information using appropriate headings, lists, and descriptive labels allows screen reader users to navigate and comprehend the content effectively, enabling equal access to the website’s information and functionality. The following principles are essential when creating content for your e-commerce website:
  1. Concise Language:
    The World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) supplemental guidance to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) provides valuable recommendations for creating clear and understandable content. These include using active voice, which aids comprehension for individuals with Dyslexia, and avoiding lengthy and dense paragraphs.
  2. Clear And Descriptive Headings:
    Using descriptive HTML headers and effectively separating ideas and text sections enables screen reader users to navigate and comprehend your pages more efficiently. This allows them to skim the content and decide whether to explore further.
  3. Alt-Texts:
    Alt-texts are written descriptions that screen readers can read aloud or convert into Braille. This feature is essential for individuals with visual impairments, sensory processing disorders, or learning disorders. Adding alt text on images or product photos ensures that users can comprehend the visual content without confusion.

Simple And Descriptive Language

Enhancing the clarity and simplicity of your website’s language guarantees that all users can easily comprehend its content. Complex jargon and terminologies can present obstacles for individuals with cognitive disabilities. Using straightforward and descriptive language ensures inclusivity and makes the content accessible to a broader audience.

Enable Keyboard Navigation

Efficient keyboard navigation is crucial for enhancing web accessibility, particularly for individuals with motor impairments and those who rely on assistive technologies. By incorporating visible focus indicators, keyboard controls, and practical focus management for interactive elements, online platforms can ensure inclusivity and empower all users to navigate and engage seamlessly.

Colour Contrast

Ensuring adequate color contrast for accessibility on your e-commerce website is vital for enhancing accessibility for individuals with visual impairments and color blindness. By carefully selecting colors that offer sufficient contrast between text and background, you can improve readability and ensure inclusivity for all users. Utilizing tools to test and validate color contrast ratios can assist in meeting accessibility standards and providing an optimal browsing experience.

Accessible PDFs And Multimedia Files

By offering downloadable PDFs or multimedia files on your e-commerce website, you can ensure that individuals with disabilities can access these resources. It is essential to employ semantic markup, utilize heading tags, ensure good contrast, provide alt text for images, use accessible tables, and include a table of contents for lengthy documents, to improve the accessibility of PDF documents. Similarly, multimedia files such as videos and podcasts should be made accessible by adding captions and audio descriptions and providing transcripts to comply with ADA regulations. It is widely acknowledged that adhering to WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards is recommended for ensuring media accessibility.

Audio Descriptive Pages

Audio descriptive pages are designed to provide an inclusive and immersive experience for individuals with visual impairments, promoting audio accessibility. Through detailed and vivid audio descriptions, these pages enable users to understand and engage with visual content, such as images, videos, or artwork, by providing contextual information and conveying visual elements crucial for comprehension.

Captions For Videos

Captions for videos are text-based representations of the audio content displayed on the screen alongside the video. They ensure accessibility for individuals with hearing disabilities by providing a written transcript of the dialogue, sound effects, and other relevant audio cues, thus enabling them to follow and understand the video content accurately.
  • Proofread auto-generated captions to catch mistakes made by automated tools.
  • Synchronize captions with the video’s timing to avoid jarring experiences.
  • Check caption placement to prevent interfering with essential visuals.
  • Provide simple access to caption controls, ensuring clear labeling and visibility.

Touch Controls

Ensuring that touch controls, such as buttons and links, are large enough and have adequate spacing to be easily tapped or activated by individuals with motor disabilities or limited dexterity is crucial. These controls, including buttons, menus, and sliders, are designed to provide intuitive and user-friendly navigation and interaction, allowing users to seamlessly browse, interact with content, and perform actions with their fingertips, enhancing the overall user experience on mobile devices.

Accessible Checkout And Signup Processes

Accessible checkout and signup processes are designed to ensure that individuals with disabilities can easily navigate and complete transactions or registrations on a website. By implementing inclusive design principles, such as clear and concise instructions, accessible form fields, error validation, and alternative input methods, these processes become more user-friendly and accommodating to diverse user needs, enhancing the overall accessibility and usability of the website for all users.

Create An Accessibility Guide

Developing an accessibility guide for your e-commerce website can provide extra information on the accessibility features and options available to users. It demonstrates your commitment to inclusivity and assists users in understanding how to make the most of your accessible e-commerce platform.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, by adopting the highest accessibility standards and practices with e-commerce ADA compliance, businesses can comply with regulations, avoid legal issues, and enhance their reputation. Accessible websites also open up new opportunities by reaching a broader customer base and improving the overall visitor experience. Investing in accessibility is the right thing to do and a wise business decision that future-proofs your online store and contributes to a more inclusive and equitable digital landscape.

Continual Engine: Transforming Digital Accessibility With Smart, Scalable, And Affordable Solutions

At Continual Engine, we are dedicated to building smarter, affordable, and scalable solutions for learning and accessibility by harnessing the power of generative artificial intelligence (AI). Our mission is to make digital content accessible to everyone, and we aim to achieve this by leveraging sophisticated technologies such as AI, deep learning, machine learning, automation, and more in collaboration with human experts. By integrating generative AI, we can expand the reach of our solutions further and make digital accessibility a reality for even more people.

Our AI-powered technology, PREP, offers a sophisticated solution that automates and accelerates PDF and document remediation for institutions and organizations across various industries. Its auto-tag detection feature allows even the most complex documents to be tagged instantly, saving you valuable time and resources. Choose PREP to experience a streamlined document remediation process and achieve enhanced accessibility for all users.

With PREP, you can quickly and affordably handle large volumes of complex PDFs and documents. PREP remediation services are customizable to meet your unique accessibility requirements and priorities. Our streamlined approach to accessibility, which includes a combination of automation and cutting-edge technologies, allows us to provide fast and accurate PDF and document remediation services. We are committed to simplifying the remediation process and delivering outstanding results that meet the highest quality and compliance standards.

Interested in learning more about our accessibility solutions?
Stay informed and be updated about the latest advancements in accessibility with Continual Engine!

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Debangku Sarma

Digital Marketing Associate
Continual Engine

Vijayshree Vethantham

Senior Vice-President, Growth & Strategy
Continual Engine US LLC

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