When a company begins looking into accessibility, there are typically two conversations they’re looking to have. The first conversation is what it takes to genuinely be accessible. How long it takes, how it works, and what’s the cost. However, then there’s the second question—the question that’s at the back of everyone’s mind and an awkward conversation to have:
What do I need to do to prevent being sued?
If we take a look at the WCAG ruleset, we find that some of them are objective, measurable requirements. Color contrast, for example. One can take the color of the foreground, the color of the background, and plug it into a computer and see the result. It will either conform to the regulated color contrast ratio or it won’t.
Then there are rules that are softer and don’t necessarily have simple answers. Things like links being tabbed through in a predictable order or alt tags providing accurate descriptions. Validating if these things follow WCAG’s ruleset currently still requires human intervention.
If we were to gauge how much of WCAG is objective, I’d estimate that number is somewhere around 20-30%. Not a lot. And from this, we can gain a couple of interesting incites.
The main method of those who are suing organizations for not being ADA compliant is to utilize web crawlers to discover these sites. Web crawlers are robots and are objective in their processing. Therefore, resolving just that 20-30% of objective rules will likely be all that’s needed to prevent lawsuits.
Secondly, a UX designer should now feel more enabled to better sell the necessity of accessibility to decision-makers. While doing the minimum isn’t ideal, it still does an immense amount of good for those with disabilities and is a great place to start the conversation.