Ken: Hey everyone. Welcome to this week’s marketing guides for small business podcast, and we have Landon Shefts of accessiBe as our guest. And we’re gonna learn about website, ADA, and WCAG compliance. And why it’s important. So I’ll get us started here. Landon, let’s start by explaining what that is. What is ADA and WCAG compliance.
Landon: Yeah, absolutely. And thank you so much for having me guys. So just to separate the difference between the ADA and the WCAG first going into what those acronyms stand for. So the ADA is the Americans with disabilities act. Maybe one of the easier ways to think about it.
If you’re unfamiliar with the virtual side of it is like ramps that go into restaurants or store fronts that you’ve seen or restroom signs that are in braille, things of that nature. So it’s the digital version of that. And businesses are, just to be blunt being sued or.
Facing litigation for not having, if their website be accessible to those with disabilities, the guidelines that are around the ADA and what sort of qualifies as an accessible website is something that completes the standards within the w C a G or the web content accessibility guidelines. So that is it’s not a fun read.
It’s. Like a thousand page guidebook is very technical. I don’t think if you’re not a developer. I think if you’re not a developer that, it’s really going to be impossible to get through, and I’m not a developer, I couldn’t get through it, but it basically explains how a website should look and feel and operate for somebody who does have a disability.
And the main disabilities that are covered within there are going to be blindness. And something to keep in mind is that blind users typically are using a screen. That’s downloaded into their computer’s operating system. But also those with motor impairments who are using their keyboards to navigate, or in cases of like paraplegia, for example, a click stick in their mouth that operates as like tab and enter an escape.
But also, minor visual impairments, epilepsy, color, blindness, cognitive learning disabilities, and more. So the w C a G is the guidelines and the ADA is the law that’s in place alongside section 5 0 8, which is for federally fund. Companies as well.
Ken: Yeah. That’s it’s interesting. I think I heard a statistic that 20 to 25% of the population in the us is con it has some type of disability that impacts their ability to use a website, according to the CDC.
Landon: Yeah, it . Yeah. And what, we’ve, what we’ve been seeing. According to CDC and the us census bureau is roughly 20 to 25%. And I think an important thing to keep in mind is they’re talking about disabilities that hinder their internet usage. So it might not be blindness or, paraplegia, but it could be older age.
It could be temporary disabilities, broken arms, whatever the case may be. So yeah, those are numbers that we’re seeing. And I know when I first heard them, I was surprised.
Ken: Yeah. I remember when I was in the student. Back at my university a long time ago I was asked to be a member of our review of our campus in terms of accessibility, physical, at the time, this was really I’m predating myself, but it was before the internet, at least the internet was around, but it was not publicly available at that time.
And it’s I have to tell you, it’s amazing. When you put yourself in the mindset of somebody who has a disability and you start to try to navigate and work through the world in that way it’s a huge factor. And, it’s something that we all take for granted, or we at least way too many of us take for granted way too much of the time.
So it’s a real problem. So having said that, with the current legal landscape, when it comes to, to website accessibility, are there really any definitive guidelines that are out there? And for example, one of the things that I heard recently was that if you got a PPP loan through the US federal government,, during COVID relief that you now are considered to have to comply with the 508 standard that you just talked about.
Landon: Yeah. So that’s something that I know a lot of people, especially in this time, since the loans have been going out a bit more frequently with COVID and small businesses in the limbo period. Yeah, that is something that a lot of businesses have been facing is they’re now considered partially publicly funded or they just fall into other guidelines.
A private company might not necessarily fall within. So the difference between section 5 0 8 and the ADA is just where the fines are coming from the litigation process while within the ADA to talk about the two main things within the states here within the ADA it’s individuals and legal team suing a website.
Usually, that website owner is a company. What we typically see the process look like is they send out a complaint or a demand letter saying, look, here’s where you’re not accessible. Here’s when we need it fixed by. Or they just say, look, the time starts right now. The longer you wait, the more money that accrues within the lawsuit changes state to state, and it doesn’t have to be somebody.
Necessarily uses your business. Like it could be somebody who’s just visiting your website. It could be somebody from out of state, even though you’re a local plumber, they’re they provide a lot of gray area for the person who’s actually. Providing the lawsuit to the website owner. The second part of it is the 5 0 8, which again, PPP funded businesses fall within as well.
This is actually a fine that’s coming from the government, or it could be loss of contracts, things like that. I’ve worked with electricians who work with public school districts who have lost out on contracts because their website wasn’t accessible, things like that because it is written within their guidelines and nobody wants to risk these significant fees.
Going back to the ADA for just a moment there, the fees that we typically see, or the demand letter settlements that we typically see anywhere from like $20,000, $50,000 going upwards of $150,000. So it’s nothing to scoff at. A lot of businesses have been sued once again. For not being in compliance after they’ve already settled.
So it is an ongoing thing where, people don’t just pay, and then, they’re clean and good to go. They need to pay and then actually take care of the issue. So it’s something that we’ve been seeing a lot of about 265,000 demand letters and lawsuits went out last year alone. So these are significant looks like it’s increasing and becoming borderline mandatory at this point where it’s not something that’s nice to have.
It’s something that’s, absolutely necessary.
Ken: Wow. Okay, go ahead.
Landon: I was saying that for those that don’t know what is a PPP loan? Yeah, so a PPP loan was a loan that was going out especially in maybe the height of COVID beginning of 2021 maybe throughout all of 20, 21, but it was a loan to help.
Smaller medium sized businesses in order to basically keep their doors open during COVID make sure that they can expand during COVID whatever the case is to, keep the economy afloat.
Ken: So having said that businesses get loans from like the small business administration, SBA loans. Does that mean that they also fall under 508 at that point?
Landon: It could they should definitely look into probably with their accountant what their loans are, what it makes their business fall into class wise, business model wise. It is something to be cautious of. And one important thing to keep in mind is even if it’s, you’re not falling into the section 5 0 8 zone, you still, every business owner falls into the ADA side of.
Yeah. And that’s where the lawsuits are much more significant. That’s where they could be a little bit more reckless. Cuz earlier you did ask me about definitive guidelines and it’s unfortunate, but they are still a little bit gray, right? The current global and legal accepted standard is the w C G, which I referred to earlier 2.1 at the double a level.
Although it’s not, officially set where people say, look, you’ve passed these check marks. You’re good to go. Because there are people who spend millions of dollars on accessibility and still get hit with a lawsuit, but it’s then their job to make sure that they can say, look, you’re wrong.
We are accessible. Here’s why in having resources, just as an example here at accessiBe, we provide all of our clients with litigation support. Just part of our basic pricing and what they do is they provide different documents. They’ll actually look at claims, things like that, provide documents, their scores accessibility scores, using various testing tools, suggested responses to lawyers that we’ve seen be efficient, all of these different things.
Of course, more based on that individual claim in order to prove how and why the site actually is compliant and access. So it’s a little bit gray on the guidelines, that’s why it’s important to make sure that you’re taking the steps to protect yourself. Yeah. Wow. Okay. Yeah. You listed a range of, penalty amounts.
Does that correlate to how large the businesses. Yeah, I believe so. I’ve worked with restaurants specifically who have seen settlements of realistically $12,000 which I’ve seen be on like the lowest side. And these are hyper local restaurants within, smaller towns in Michigan, whatever the case is.
But then we do hear. Supermarket chains, something like that. They’re getting hit with $200,000 fines or lawsuits I should say. So I do think it, the lawyer makes a calculated decision of what can this business actually spend. How much is this penalty worth? I know, lawyers are like scientists in my head where they come up with these dollar amounts out of what I think is thin there.
But they figure out what the damages. Gotcha. Would you be able to give some examples of what the user experience with someone for someone with a disability? Like I, I guess compare what it would be like their experience on a website that is not accessible compared to one that is just to give some examples.
Yeah, absolutely. Two of the I guess to break it up into two different parts, there’s going to be something that we call front end adjustments. And this is for more minor visual impairments, epilepsy, cognitive learning disabilities, and more as well. But. Just a couple of examples of that are contrast issues, for example.
So making sure that you don’t have a really light colored font on a really light colored background, because that might be harder for somebody who just doesn’t have the best vision to be able to identify and see. Fonts that have specific maybe pointy edges to them like on the top of a letter or something like that, because that might start to smudge together if they have poor vision or if they have dyslexia, certain fonts get mixed up a bit easier than others.
So again, these are all front end adjustments on the epilepsy side. This is a really important one. And I think when that’s sort. Illustrates easily. The what front end adjustments would look like. So on a non-accessible site I never thought about this prior to working here, but if you have epilepsy scrolling, the internet could be a dangerous experience for you and a non-accessible site may have a flickering gift really bright saturated colors, things like that.
And for somebody who does have photosensitive epilepsy that could trigger. The worst case scenario, a seizure, something of that nature where a non or excuse me, where an accessible site and something that accessory through our profiles do. We will actually automatically Dole down those colors.
If somebody turns on seizure safe mode, we will stop anything. That’s flickering making it a safer browser experience. On the back end. This is where the real, like heavy lifting comes in and it’s less. So the design of the site it’s actually like the development of the website. This is where it becomes tedious and costly if you are doing it on your own.
But that is going to be for blind users who use a screen reader and then motor impaired users who use their keyboard to navigate. So it’s important to make sure that all things are navigable using your keyboard, including drop down menus forms, all buttons are clickable using your keyboard. That people know where required forms are that you could go into popups and not click out of them on accident.
Basically, just making sure the entire thing is navigable. Related to that, of course, is the screen reader capability. If I were to go to, to be honest, like a lot of these websites that are out there right now, and I had a screen reader turned on when I visit, a link that’s going to take me to Facebook.
I might just hear something that says. Or a link and that’s it, that, that doesn’t really help somebody who doesn’t have the capability to see what’s on the screen because yeah. It doesn’t provide any context to them at all. What an accessible website would say, depending on if it’s opening in a new tab or if it’s just changing their current tab, but it would say something like Facebook, new window button.
So now that user knows the full context of everything at one last point I’ll make, there is something. A lot of people sometimes forget about is image descriptions and alternative texts. So it’s actually describing what’s happening within an image itself. Including the text that’s embedded. I know a lot of people make flyers or, they use Photoshop and create something that says, look, we’re having a sale or here’s our notices about if we’re closed for the holidays, whatever the case may be.
And because that text is embedded within the image, A blind user doesn’t know the context of what’s on there. So it’s important to make sure that your images are described properly, including the text that’s embedded within. So image one, JPEG, not gonna cut it. image seven, eight underscore is not going to do it.
final. Final. Yeah, no, I hear you. Okay, good. Thank you. Yeah,
Ken: there are so many things, colorblindness macular degeneration. These are, yeah. These are not just really rare scenarios. They’re pretty P. Conditions out there. It’s it’s a big deal.
Landon: Yeah, absolutely.
It’s something that a lot of people don’t even necessarily think about. And this is a market that has a lot of disposable income as well. So something to keep in mind is. one story that I hear is a lawyer that we work with. He’s also our community manager, but he was saying that around Valentine’s day, he’s a lawyer.
So he gets paid pretty well, but he was going to buy his wife a gift and he has paraplegia. He use a click stick in his mouth. That’s like the first time I’ve ever seen one be used and he reached. to, or excuse me, he was shopping online on the site. And when he got to like the payment form, that’s when he actually couldn’t then utilize his click stick any longer.
So it’s something where, he was saying, look like not only was it a bad user experience for me and of course he was upset by it, but also it, they lost out on a couple of thousand dollars right then and there. And, from a business perspective, you wanna make sure that you’re covering all of your bases there.
Yeah. Oh yeah. Okay. So what are, traditionally it’s been really difficult and expensive to comply with any of this. So what are some of the options out there for small and medium size businesses to make their website accessible? Yeah. Great question. So what’s been like the standard process up until this point has been what we call manual remediation.
So it’s going in and actually making all of these change. One by one, at a source code level. So you need a developer on staff. You probably need a lawyer on staff. You probably need an ADA expert. Some price quotes that I’ve gotten. Not only, no, excuse me, not to do the entire job, including actually changing the code, but quotes that I’ve heard from partners or excuse me, clients of mine, who all they wanted.
Company to do is send them an audit saying, here’s what changes you need to make. And I’ve heard quotes of $85,000. Typically I think that’s a bit high because their site was a little more complex, we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars minimum. We’re talking weeks of time in order to actually bring it up to compliance depending on maybe how new your website is.
And lastly, every time you need to actually make updates to your site, you need to then go back to that expert, say, Hey, we’re adding. Our new spring our new summer line of close, right? You need to send that to the experts. They need to remediate everything. Then you can add in, it causes this extra lag time that a lot of companies are saying, look, this is not maintainable, unless you’re a huge corporation.
It’s not something that was a real viable option, in my opinion. The other thing that we’ve seen and you guys have probably seen similar sort of widgets that are on websites before, but, they might just change the contrast and increase the font size or things like that. And these are usually free WordPress plugins.
I think that these are, I always like to say like a step in the right direction, but it’s not something. , it’s not something that is actually going to bring you to compliance to the point where, you’re mitigating your legal risk. So that’s exactly where something, like accessory comes into play.
Now that automation has gotten so much smarter where we are able to say, look, we want to automate the process for you. We don’t want you to have to pay, tens of thousands of dollars. , but we also understand that, you don’t necessarily have the manpower to just focus on accessibility on something.
You have a whole business to run. You already have somebody building your website. Now let us take care of the accessibility side of things. So an AI powered solution that could just be plugged into a website. Run in the background automatically add those alt tags that I mentioned earlier, the image descriptions also make the changes to the things like the Facebook logos and have those say, Facebook, new window.
There are a lot of really great examples that we’ve been seeing. And additionally also still provide that front end widget that allows you to turn on a seizure, safe profile, a change your adjustments to, colors that you have a better time seeing whatever the case may. so those are, all the options that are out there on the market.
Of course, there’s one that I always suggest being, excessively and our automated solution.
Ken: Yeah. I don’t wanna put thoughts in people’s heads, but I, at the same time, the fines that you’re talking about amounts. Are not E those aren’t even what people often, especially smaller businesses, aren’t even willing to pay that for a website to be developed.
First of all, and so their alternative is do you know, they may not even choose to have a website, which is crazy, because they couldn’t do it in a cost effective way. So I’m glad to see that there are some technologies that are coming out. You mentioned one example of.
How accessibility helps with lead conversion, and what that can mean in terms of, losing a sale or not if you’ve got accessibility. But I would think that even, if somebody lands on a website that’s accessible or they land on a website that’s not accessible first, then they go to another competitor that has an accessible website.
That’s a, that’s a. Lead or business opportunity as well. Any other thoughts on, what role accessibility has in terms of lead conversion?
Landon: Yeah, absolutely. Like we were talking about a bit earlier, this is a market that has a lot of disposable income. It’s a really large market as well.
And again, when we say people with disabilities, we’re not only referring to. What we would probably consider more serious disabilities. It sometimes is just somebody didn’t bring their glasses today and doesn’t have good vision. Like I always use my mom as an example. She has probably the thickest glasses I’ve ever seen, and she really likes to online shop and like her method right now is she goes command plus on her MacBook, like 35 different times.
And if it’s going to be that difficult for her to read, she’s probably going to go to a different. And I I would suggest that you don’t lose her business if you’re an online retailer. This is a group that tends to be pretty loyal to a brand. And this is something that, community advocates that we work with who do have disabilities at our company have told us about, and they say, look, we stick sometimes to what we are, tend to be very comfortable with.
And One of my agency partners have put it to me in a way that I really like, which is essentially, you’re paying us to do your marketing and drive traffic to your website.
Now you want to make sure that you’re casting as wide of a net as possible and not losing out on any business simply because they can’t necessarily interact with your website as easily or as fluid as you would like them.
Yeah. So when it comes to lead conversion, it’s one of the most important things that you could do from a more technical standpoint as well. And I know that you’re the, more of the SEO expert than me that’s for sure. But from an SEO perspective, something that some of my SEO partners have mentioned to me specifically, is it can significantly reduce your bounce rate, especially within, the first minute, first, five minutes, something like that, because it is easier for that user to.
Go through the site. So I know that tends to have a positive impact on SEO. So that’s something that sort of, I like to almost describe as an added benefit of accessory or accessibility in general, as opposed to one of the main benefits yeah.
Ken: Time on site, I think is, bounce rate, anti time on site, rolled together there.
Yeah. Interesting. We’re talking about. 25% of the population. Yeah. And we, we’ve talked about on this podcast before, you don’t look, if you’re paying for marketing, the last thing you wanna do is leak leads, and this is a new form of leaking leads.
In the past, I think many marketers really have only looked at it as okay Somebody filled out a form on your website, but you didn’t call ’em back or they, they called your business. You didn’t answer the phone and you didn’t call ’em back, and these kinds of things, but this isn’t, this is something that, it maybe is even an invisible leaking that’s happening for businesses right now that they aren’t even, nobody’s even really paying attention to.
And that’s a pretty substantial number. And again, if you’re talking about, folks who have money, then that’s. I don’t think you wanna walk away from that opportunity,
Landon: right? Absolutely. And on top of that, it’s still, you want as many people spreading the good word about your business as possible.
So I do think that even if it’s not necessarily a huge amount of actual leads or revenue that could be lost, I do think it’s important to make sure. You’re expanding your client base as much as possible that people have good things to say about you. That I know some business owners get very competitive that they’re not going to your competition instead of you.
Yeah. And then lastly, like from a branding perspective is 2022. I work with agencies who their whole business model is. How can we do more disability focused marketing and people don’t know where to start. They’re asking for inclusive marketing, inclusive branding. It’s a vague topic to discuss.
This is one of the quite frankly, the simplest steps and the most affordable steps you could take towards like really making strives towards that, as opposed to just talking the talk. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. As a business owner, that’s largely our audience, they’re probably pretty overwhelmed by this.
Is there a couple of major things that you could advise the business owners to think about with their website? Are there like one thing to change every month? Is there any way to make this a little bit more bite size so they can actually start to tackle. Yeah, great question. I would start with making sure your all tags are in place.
So making sure that they really describe what’s happening in the image and that it prevails the information that you’d want out there. So it’s important that it doesn’t only say what’s happening, but. You could use it as a marketing tool, right? Like you still want it to explain, but you do want it to be compelling to the actual visitor of the website.
I would say that’s probably step number one. Not only because it’s probably one of the simpler steps that are out there, but also because it is one of the more important ones as well go through your website from a front end level. Check if your contrasts are okay, there’s a lot of great tools that are out there.
accessiBe has our access scan. So if you Google accessiBe access scan, you could run a score through there and get, qualifications on how you’ve been doing. Yeah, but there’s also great tools like Google lighthouse is accessibility testing. So that’s, if you have the Google lighthouse Chrome extension, or you just go to their website and the most popular testing tool is wave by web aim.
They have a website as well as a Chrome extension. And people usually like to get a good idea of how they’re doing from there. I would say you’d be surprised by most likely how many things you might be missing out on right now. And I think that a lot of them would be in regards. Contrast regards to fonts and headers.
And then of course like re labels, image, descriptions, things of that nature on the technical. and then ongoing. Is it something that you just gotta be thinking about every year, just to make sure as you update your site we gotta make sure that new accessibility I guess mandates are being adhered to, is that, that the question, right?
Yeah. So yeah, yes and no. It’s been that way for a long time. So it’s been that way where look, you might have been in compliance. Two months ago. Yeah. But now you’re not either because you’ve added new content or because it’s a moving goal post, and one sort of cliche, we always like to say is, it’s a journey, it’s not a destination.
We’re talking about compliance and accessibility. It is something where you need to always make sure that you’re on top of it. We understand business owners are very busy people. They, have focuses that aren’t always just web accessibility. So we wanna make sure that they could stay on top of those, but.
With things that have launched such as access. it will automatically make sure that your site stays in compliance. So that’s the great thing about automation is, number one, when you add new content to your website, it’s going to scan through all of that content, make those changes every single day, making sure that you stay in compliance, no matter if your site updates daily, which we’ve, definitely seen whether it’s eCommerce or blogs.
And additionally, if there are new guidelines that come into. like earlier I mentioned right now, we’re at w C a G 2.1 at the double a level. What happens next year? If it’s 3.0 or 2.3, something along those lines as an agency, you can’t go through every site and change every little aspect as a website owner.
You might wanna just give up at that point. It’s so stressful and overwhelming, but with an automated solution, you could just push out those changes across all of the websites that has your technology on their site. great. That’s doable. Totally doable.
Ken: Absolutely. Yeah. It’s, the thing is you don’t achieve compliance and you’re done because things change.
The nature of the internet, if you’re doing active marketing, you’re changing content on your website, when you do. You may no longer be com fully compliant. But having said that, is there, and again, I know you’re not an attorney and I’m nowhere near an attorney, but if you show some due diligence that you’re actively trying to provide a web-accessible website, does that help in any way
Landon: yeah I would say it does.
Okay. Even more so than I guess the WCAG 2.1 at Thea level, like the standards are we are working towards it. And I know that’s like really hard to say and who’s to determine, if you’re working towards it hard enough or, if you’re just, we’ve all seen or at I have, because I click on a lot of people’s accessibility statements.
I’ve seen plenty of times on. They haven’t updated this statement since 2017. Their website’s clearly inaccessible. And it says, Hey, if you find any issues, email us. And we’re trying to make our site accessible. And they’re not, they think that they might get away with that for a while and, hope maybe they will for a little bit.
I do think there’s also the factor of. It’s not just about what you could get away with. It is also the right thing to do for people who have disabilities and want to access your company. There’s doctors out there who don’t have accessible websites and people disabilities need doctors just you, or I need to book doctor’s appointments, excuse me.
But also e-commerce sites, whatever the case may be. but yes, having the intent and having the steps in place towards making your website accessible does make a difference. It does help, but let’s not just say we are and let’s really take those steps. Okay. Lena, I think you’ve touched on this a little bit already, but what are some of the biggest benefits of inclusivity as it relates to compliance?
Yeah, absolutely. So I think the first part is mitigation. Or excuse me, litigation mitigation. I always do that backwards cause they rhyme. Making sure that you’re lowering your risk significantly. There are lawyers, who’re making a lot of money from this, and there are a lot of true and honest cases that are out there true and honest lawsuits from somebody who has a disability and couldn’t get access to local doctor, local store, whatever the case is, and, or just, any sort of local website and sued because of it.
But then there are lawyers who. They have a system in place and they know we can make money by suing these type of businesses.
At one point, like dentists were getting sued, left, and right. Sometimes it’s realtors and they just know these industries have the money to pay us. These industries are quick to do we’re going to target them. So making sure that you have something on your website, that’s going to protect you and that you could stand confident behind and say, look, we are taking proper steps or our website is accessible and you just didn’t check.
And you just sent out a lawsuit that we definitely don’t agree with. Nothing’s going to be perfect. Sometimes people, you will take the proper steps and you will do just about everything, and people will come to your attention and say, look this banner. Doesn’t really work with my screen readers, breaking up my keyboard navigation, and, that’s something that is part of the journey and not the destination thing that I mentioned earlier.
So starting with mitigation, excuse me, litigation mitigation, going into something that we talked about a lot before, just making sure that you are opening up your business to as many people as possible. Again, closing any holes in your boat that you may be leaking potential revenue from. And then lastly from that branding perspective and the fact that it’s just the right thing to do overall you could feel confident as a company saying, look, we are taking steps towards, helping a community that that has been a bit disenfranchised in the past.
Ken: Yeah. I think, in many cases there’s no malicious intent. It’s just, it’s not a, it’s not a topic. It comes in front of our, in front of our everyday lives, until it does. And, but from my perspective, I know for me it’s important to be seen as much of a socially responsible business as I can be.
And there are a lot of people who. May think that way they may not, but that, it’s still I think it, I, like you said, I think it’s the right thing to do. One morally and, societal obligation, two it’s good business, three, it’s gonna help you get more business because you’re gonna be more findable, so there are a lot of. Strong positive points here. I know a lot of people are gonna look at this as a, as a cost. It’s okay, great. I gotta go spend more money on this or that, but there are real benefits to doing this. And I think you can quantify those pretty well.
Landon: Yeah. I absolutely agree.
So going back to the. First part of it, the sort of social awareness and everything along those lines. Again, the fact that it is 20, 22 and companies talk about it. They don’t even know where to start. I work with a company who mostly build site for websites, for recruitment companies, people, head hunters more colloquially.
Yeah. And they have a focus sometimes on. Recruitment teams that recruit people with disabilities for companies and they don’t always have accessible websites and their, potential clients come back to them. They say, look. You want us to be your client? We can’t work with you because my community doesn’t have access to your website or the people that we’re trying to bring on board don’t have access to your website.
There’s disabilities out or excuse me, disability foundations that are out there who don’t necessarily have accessible websites. And, that’s that definitely like the most important thing that you can offer. Just a lot of things to keep in mind. where again, there is no, oftentimes I should say, or I would hope not.
There’s not any malicious intent out there. I think it’s more so what I was talking about earlier, when I mentioned, I’ve never thought about the epilepsy side of things prior to working here. It’s it was just my ignorance. I, would’ve never thought about it because it’s never affected me up until this point.
So it’s important to be socially responsible and make sure that, just because it hasn’t affected you or somebody that. Next or extremely close to that it is affecting your potential clients. Or even people who just want to go to your website.
Ken: Yeah. Ignorance doesn’t prevent you from adhering to the law.
And, it’s to the point now where where, I’m actually, gonna be very proactive here in making sure. That this is a, an important topic that, all of my clients in particular, prospects are aware of, because I think it, it is just like, there are so many good, positive reasons why you want to do this?
Landon: I agree completely. I know a lot of website builders nowadays are. They’re essentially saying, look, if you’re not going to take steps towards making your website accessible or, add that to your budget on your website, sometimes they won’t necessarily even work with those clients. We have seen things like that only because, they want to make sure that they’re they can proudly say, look, we build accessible websites. And one way I put it this might be more so for the people who have built websites or have a little bit of design experiences a couple years ago, like the number one thing I would hear is about like responsiveness. I’ve worked with agencies for a long time, and a lot of companies are very proud that they had a responsive or a mobile first website.
And now it’s something. You don’t really see it on websites too often, because it’s pretty much expected. Nobody builds non-responsive websites, if you wanna be found right. Exactly. And yeah, sometimes it’s for SEO purposes, sometimes it’s for aesthetic purposes, but it’s either way, like you’re doing it now.
And I think right now we’re in a phase where it’s nice to offer accessible websites. It’s nice to have an accessible website. But, in a year, the rate that this is moving, I do think it’s gonna be something where every website’s expected to be accessible and compliant.
Ken: Here’s a news flash. It is not hard to find websites that are not accessible. It’s really easy. So there, there are people who their job is to use automated tools to go out there and quickly identify websites that are not C.
Landon: And I think one of the easiest ways that you can quickly test on a website is if you just simply go to a website and.
Press tab on your computer. Which would, in most cases, or for an accessible website would actually start highlighting each individual link. So people know what they would be clicking on. Things of that nature you could tell am I able to navigate through my website by just pressing tab and going through it, and you’d be surprised by how many just aren’t accessible through there.
And then again, another quick way to test. Access scan through accessory. You would just put it in your URL. It would scan it really quick and give you a quick sort of guide on here’s, where you haven’t passed. Here’s where you have passed. But also Google lighthouse and wave where they don’t really give necessarily like a pass fail sort of grade.
They do tell you, look here is where you’re lacking and here’s where you’re doing really well. A couple of examples of that. So you have a better understanding of how your current website is doing.
Ken: So I’ve got a question, that may not be obvious. And, some people may have seen an accessibility icon on a website when they go to it.
I don’t have any of the vision problems that keep me from being able to see that, so I can see that and I can click on it, but again, just talk about, if somebody doesn. Have the ability to see that accessibility icon what how does an accessibility solution work?
Landon: Great question. It’s something that sometimes I forget to tell people about. So I’m really happy you asked. So a couple of different things. Number one, starting with. People who do have the ability to see, and maybe maybe are colorblind for example, or have epilepsy that logo that you typically will see on websites is usually a little guy with his arms out to the side a little bit.
A lot of companies that are in this space, whether they are just like a free plugin or whether it’s excessive, whatever the case is, tend to use a pretty similar logo. and the reason being is that we wanna make it universal behind here are accessibility settings. And just because you may not have used it in the past, doesn’t mean that, people who do have visual impairments or epilepsy, whatever the case are, they do tend to actually know about these features that are out there.
They tend to check websites for them. Things of that nature. So that’s to cover the people who do have their vision, do have access to use their mouse or track pad. And, could just go ahead and actually click in and change their settings individually for somebody who only uses their keyboard to navigate when you press tab on something that does have accessibility on it’s going to automatically turn on keyboard navigation mode.
Additionally, someone who uses a click stick in their mouth, that button that’s on their click stick operates as a tab button. So that’s also going to automatically trigger the solution to come on board. For sites that are just naturally accessible, whether it’s been done at a code level or the expense, hundreds of thousands of dollars on it, whatever the case may be tab will also, automatically turn it on.
these tools don’t need to be turned on because they’re built in at the website level for blind users. They, like I mentioned earlier, have a screen reader that’s downloaded into their operating system. Otherwise wouldn’t be finding your website in the first place. And. A website that’s been accessible at a code level.
There’s nothing that needs to be necessarily done. Sometimes websites will turn into a read only mode, which I’m sure people have seen before, even if they’re not necessarily thinking about it. Sorry about this. I have allergies. But with something like accessory, if I had a screen reader and I were to visit a website, what the first thing that would happen is I’d receive a verbal invitation saying, press alt, plus one to turn on blind user mode.
Then I would hear a little success bell in my ears. As soon as I’ve done. Okay,
Ken: cool. Yeah, no, that’s helpful. Thanks.
Landon: Absolutely. Yeah. Can you speak a little bit about your background and just about like why this topic and working where you do is so important for you? Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for asking.
I’ve worked with marketing and web development agencies for the past, about six years now. And. I just, I was working at a CMS before one of the drag and drop CMSs that are out there. And one thing that I’d hear from a lot of agencies is what accessibility features do you guys have? How can we make sure our sites weren’t accessible?
And I was just, I’m not a developer again, I’m not a web designer. I was just like, look, I think you could add like quick alt tags. And they were like, yeah, but my uncle uses a screener. I was hearing so often. Insert family member uses a screen reader and they’re not hearing what I want them to hear.
They’re not hearing anything positive. They’re skipping over the menus completely. They don’t have access to buttons and links and clickable items. And I was like, all right, this seems to be, a real significant issue, not only for web developers and business owners, but most importantly, it seems to be a significant issue for those with disabilities.
When accessory did reach out to me and I know that they were working with agencies, all right, this is a perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between the agency, world and accessibility, because although agencies are great at building websites and doing the marketing, driving traffic to your site this is a very specialized thing where.
They to actually put in the hours that are necessary in order to bring your website into compliance. It might cost you tens of thousands of dollars. And, I know agencies are saying look, this isn’t a real viable option for you, my client. And now there’s options that are, that they trust that they partner with and that they know can bring their clients’ websites to compliance in a.
Man something that they could truly stand behind and say, look, you guys are good to go. They’re going to back you from a legal standpoint, they’re going to make sure that you are accessible and most importantly, make sure that it’s a great user experience for somebody with a disability. Who’s trying to access your business through your website.
Wow. It’s just your enthusiasm about this topic is so good. So I just wanted to understand how you got here. So that’s. It feels good to sell something that you stand behind. I think that’s most important.
Ken: Yeah, absolutely. Are there any issues with. With the automation, does it ever cause any problems?
And, if so this is maybe more specifically an accessiBe question, if you guys iden, if there’s a problem identified to you, how do you guys handle that in terms of trying to get it turned around and fixed and resolved as quickly as possible?
Landon: Yeah. I, so I rarely see people run into.
Issues WordPress users will use the WordPress plugin. It shouldn’t have any, the only thing I ever really encounter is sometimes people will have sometimes security software on their site or WP rocket, things of that nature. Sorry about this again, guys. But sometimes that will block the crawlers for our scanning tool.
So it actually doesn’t affect the website’s accessibility. It doesn’t affect the website’s performance. All it will do is block. What’s crawling your website to provide you an audit monthly or things like that. This simple solution to that is they just go into their settings and white label whitelist and IP address, things like that.
Yeah. So it is about a two-minute fix. It’s just identifying the problem. Letting our support team know, or, your agency know who can reach out to their partner. Whatever the case is to fix that, I haven’t seen any really negative interactions other than that, sometimes installation issues where they just installed it a little wrong. But overall pretty straightforward, pretty easy, pretty hands off, which is most important. You plug it in, you let it run in the background. I always recommend checking on your plugins every once in a while. Yeah. But there’s nothing else that you really need to do. Okay, cool.
great with this is gonna be, I’m just gonna bridge an idea here. Most business owners would understand that the physical compliance for folks with disabilities, it makes a lot of sense, the ramps, automatic doors, that kind of thing. And then with you talking about how, a little while ago it was to have a responsive website was, like people talked about it and what you’re hoping for is it’ll just become table.
Is it the kind of thing that you’d like to leave the business owners with the thinking that, what, it’s just another thing to comply with. It’s, it is possible, it’s not as scary or as expensive as some of the horror stories are, and it’s absolutely doable a month at a time.
Just get to it. Yeah I was actually speaking at it was a webinar for RV park owners which tends to be a much larger community than I once thought. But they had me as well as somebody who was an expert from like a contracting standpoint for physical ADA compliance. And I found so many things that he mentioned where I was like, oh, that’s exactly what I’m talking about as well.
They needed braille signing in certain place signage at certain places to. To blind users or excuse blind visitors in their case where they’re going also accessible bathrooms, certain amount of parking spots needed to be accessible to those with disabilities or those using wheelchair in those cases, certain amount of showers, things like that.
And this is really just the digital version. Yeah. You need to take care of this, essentially the same communities For the same purposes. So they have access to utilize your tool or your product or your company, as well as from a business standpoint, you don’t wanna lose out on, that client base as well.
So I, I do think that’s where it ties in together. Again, just think of it as that digital ramp into your store. there you go. That’s it’s a good soundbite. Yeah exactly. yeah, it is very good. Yep. So is there anything we missed or does anyone have anything to add?
Ken: I, I was just curious about the whole SEO aspect of it as well, because it’s always, it’s not, this is not a situation or an issue that a lot of people perceive as that bleeding neck issue that they have to get resolved.
But the reality is it’s a ticking time bomb, that’s just, sitting there waiting to potentially happen. And if it does, if you get hit with a $12,000 fine or hire. That may be enough to take your business out. You may have to close your doors.
Landon: You’re absolutely right. And when it comes to the SEO standpoint I know I touched on it just briefly earlier, but lowering your bounce rate is what we’ve typically heard has had the best impact on people’s SEO, because I think they’re surprised by how many people. Quick to leave their website because the font isn’t really, too, seeable for them, or, the contrast, maybe they’re blind or use their keyboard to navigate.
They’re just saying, look, there’s other there’s other, whatever the case is, supermarket websites that I can go to. Lowering that bounce rate, working with your agency, who does your SEO is definitely something that they could strategize with you on and make sure that you are moving in the right direction in terms of your organic search results.
from a lawsuit standpoint that you just mentioned. You’re absolutely right. Like a lot of agencies have put it to me in the terms of, look, you’re going to make your website accessible eventually one way or another, either for legal purposes, for SEO purposes, for, the purposes of somebody brought it to your attention.
You never thought about it. You might as well, 5%
Ken: additional market
Landon: To open up your business to more people. You might as well start to do it now and avoid the headache of a litigation or avoid the headache of a demand letter, all of these different options that are out there and, really can cost a pretty penny.
I know I touched on it just briefly earlier when I said a lot of these companies get sued twice because they’ll. Pay the settlement and then they won’t make any changes to their website. If you have multiple domains, you could get sued multiple times. That’s what happened with that smaller restaurant that got hit with the $12,000 lawsuit.
They also got hit with an $8,000 lawsuit for their other sister restaurant. So you wanna make sure that you’re protected, the more visibility you have online you want the visibility. It opens yourself up to much more lawsuits as well. So let’s make sure you’re staying protected and doing the right thing.
Most importantly. Yeah. All right. That sounds like a good place to wrap up. Landon, thanks for joining us. And before we go, thanks for having me where can listers find out more about you and your company? Yeah. So you guys could always reach out to myself directly. It’s L a N D O N S H accessibility.com.
Just let me know that Changescape sent you. Changescape also has a link with us that will provide their listeners with a 10% added discount. So that’s excessive.com/a/cs web. So that will provide all listeners with a 10% discount as well. And thank you guys so much for having me today.
Ken: Thank you.
Landon: Yes. Thanks everyone for joining us and share our podcast and we will see you next week. Talk soon, guys.