Why Certification is the Only Accessibility Solution You’ll Ever Need

11/25/2020

By Lily Clark

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11/25/2020

By Lily Clark

It can be hard to know which product or service to choose in the sea of accessibility compliance options. With profitability, litigation, and equality on the line, it’s an especially important decision, too. You can’t afford to choose the wrong option.

Not only will your company still face the risk of litigation with a digital product that doesn’t offer full compliance — a product that doesn’t offer full compliance will also fail to make your website accessible for users with disabilities…which is quite literally the main problem that any and all accessibility solutions should be fixing.

But how are you supposed to find the right solution? How will you know if that solution provides the results it promises? How do you make sure that you’re not wasting your time — and your money?

As you consider the different accessibility solutions available to you, you’ll notice a variety of software-based solutions that claim to offer extremely high rates of WCAG conformance, if not 100% completely — but how many of them can actually follow through on their lofty promise?

None.

No software-only solution will result in 100% accessibility compliance…but there is one other type of accessibility solution that does:

Manual remediation and certification.

Becoming digitally accessible isn’t as simple as checking some boxes, signing a document, or going through the motions to earn a virtual badge — it’s about the process of becoming compliant: the time and effort you put in to create an experience that is accessible, usable, and equal for everyone. And of course, it’s also about the results that they provide.

Embracing the process of becoming digitally accessible — and not cutting corners with semi-accessible software — is an important step we must take in our society’s journey toward full inclusion and equality, and it’s an important step for businesses to take in order to maximize profitability and ensure litigation protection.

At the end of the day, the purpose of this article is to inform you that choosing the easy option of automated, software-based products will not solve 100% of your accessibility problems, even if they give you a partial solution. A partial solution won’t do much for you, and definitely won’t fully support users with disabilities.

Going through the remediation and certification process is the only way you’ll truly enhance your company’s accessibility, and it’s the only solution that will actually benefit site users with disabilities.

What reasons, specifically, make the certification process the best accessibility solution available? We’re glad you asked.

1. Manual, Human-Powered Auditing and Certification is the Only Solution that Offers Complete, 100% Accessibility

In order to create an accessible website that can truly support disabled users, companies need to comply with all of the recommended accessibility standards. Businesses must rely on the manual auditing, remediation, and certification process to earn those results.

To earn your accessibility certification, all violations must be identified and then remediated in accordance with the WCAG — the digital accessibility guidelines that have been internationally accepted as the go-to accessibility standard.

The WCAG currently cover 13 types of accessibility issues, which are subsequently broken down into specific criteria for success. Since the criteria are extremely technical and nuanced, an understanding of context, interpretation, and intervention is absolutely essential — functions that only human beings have the capacity to perform. Unfortunately, that means that AI technology and automated remediation software simply cannot catch all of the corresponding issues by themselves. Automated software can be used to complement the remediation work that human auditors do, though, creating a very thorough process with the highest accessibility results possible.

Unlike any other accessibility solution, certification leverages both automated technology and human auditors to catch the highest number of violations possible — remediating them to ensure full conformance with the WCAG and the most accessible web experience possible for disabled users.

If you use a product that only fixes half of the accessibility issues on your website, you might think that it’s better than doing nothing — but better doesn’t mean that your website is actually accessible or usable. Software-only solutions can never ensure high levels of accessibility. Accessibility certification is the only solution that can.

2. Certification Ensures the Highest Level of Litigation Protection Possible

Not being digitally compliant comes with serious repercussions, most notably in the form of litigation. The majority of lawsuits tied to digital accessibility are filed on the basis of discrimination, and accessibility/discrimination lawsuits can get expensive. Fast.

It might be obvious that completely disregarding digital accessibility will put you at a high risk of litigation, but it’s important to emphasize that it is by no means the only risky move — using a product that doesn’t offer 100% compliance will put you at extreme risk too.

And when you think about it, it makes perfect sense why:

If a website is only 50% accessible, a disabled user faces a 50/50 chance — which are highly unlikely odds, and nowhere near equal treatment — of being able to complete a transaction, get the information they need, or even potentially access the webpage in the first place.

That disparity is more than enough for a lawsuit.

If you’re skeptical about the cost of becoming digitally accessible in general, rest assured: it’s worth it. Not only will your company benefit in multiple ways from being digitally accessible, it will also cost substantially less to pay for remediation and certification than having to pay for a whole litigation case due to noncompliance…typically hundreds of thousands of dollars less.

Partial, automated solutions leave some accessibility issues unaddressed. Unaddressed accessibility issues equal holes and gaps in WCAG conformance. Even a single hole, gap, or issue that proves your website does not meet the WCAG standards automatically puts you at risk for an accessibility lawsuit.

Accessibility certification is the only process that will verify your website’s WCAG conformance through in-depth auditing and remediation at the individual code level — the kind of remediation that will give your company bulletproof litigation protection.

3. Getting Certified Supports Real, Actual Digital Inclusion and Equality -- It's Not Just an Empty Promise

According to the CDC, roughly 61 million American adults — or 1 in 4 people — have some form of permanent or temporary disability. It’s crucial to understand that people with disabilities are regular people who rely on technology, the internet, and online interactions for day-to-day activities. It’s also crucial to recognize the difficulty too many disabled users face when navigating online spaces.

In fact, 71% of web users with disabilities will leave a website if it’s too difficult to use.

A digital accessibility certification isn’t just a piece of paper filled with empty, half-met promises and a declaration to “be better.” Becoming digitally accessible is an intricate, in-depth process that involves human and AI powered remediation at the individual code level, meaning it isn’t a simple overnight fix. And it’s definitely not a temporary band-aid.

Accessibility certification is a process that creates equal and inclusive spaces for all web users — a process that supports the effort to construct a more equal digital world and that has the results to back up its claims.

Ultimately, businesses should get their accessibility certification because it’s an important moral and ethical step to take — and simply the right thing to do.

The Accessibility Experts You Can Rely On

Online ADA offers the industry’s most thorough and effective certification service available. We believe in maximizing the value we provide to our clients, and we achieve that in several ways:

  • Unlimited Technical Support: Yep, you heard that correctly. You’ll pay for customer and technical support time with our competitors — but not Online ADA. We provide technical and customer support throughout your remediation process to ensure your developer knows how to solve all the accessibility issues on your website. 
  • Litigation Support at No Extra Charge: You heard that right, too. If anyone ever questions the accessibility of your website, we’ll intervene “off-the-clock” to review those claims, determine their validity, and refute claims when possible. We also provide free remediation for any claims that are legitimate.
  • The Most Thorough Approach to Auditing: We’re the only accessibility consultancy that provides 3 complete, top-down audits of your website before issuing our independent certification. 

There is No "Better Time" to Wait for -- Address Your Digital Accessibility Now

People who have disabilities don’t “do without” when it comes to using the internet in our extremely digital world — they rely on consistent online access to do the same daily tasks and activities as any other person. It’s time we recognize digital access and inclusion as an essential part of every person’s life.

Without complete accessibility, digital spaces will create barriers and obstacles for users with disabilities, prohibiting them from accessing the information and performing the essential online tasks they need to live their lives. These digital spaces will fail disabled users.

Ecommerce is becoming more and more of an essential platform for consumers, and digital inclusion is growing in response, as is the number of countries across the world that are incorporating digital accessibility into their anti-discrimination laws. While there is already a risk of litigation for noncompliance, it is safe to assume that the risk will only increase as accessibility laws become more specific and digital inclusion becomes a more recognized practice.

If companies wait for a “better time” to remediate and certify their accessibility, it will likely come at a much higher cost — either in the form of an expensive lawsuit or with raised prices due to higher future demand. Now is the time to improve your digital accessibility.

The only way to become 100% digitally accessible and provide users with an equal experience is to go through the manual remediation and certification process…not to mention it’s also the only way to protect your business from expensive accessibility litigation and boost your company’s profitability by including all users, even those with disabilities.

Online ADA offers the best solution to digital accessibility compliance: in-depth, thorough, and accurate remediation powered by both AI technology software and human auditing professionals.

During the certification process we will audit your company’s website up to 3 full, separate times in order to catch any and all accessibility issues. We will work with your company to craft an official accessibility statement that announces your dedication to equal access and commitment to continued digital accessibility. In addition to remediation and certification, we offer Ongoing Certification Management to maintain and keep on top of your website’s accessibility — it’s our most valuable certification tool, with the industry’s best value.

And we can’t forget to mention our extremely competitive pricing and a turnaround time that is 2 – 3 times faster than the industry standard.

Why trust Online ADA’s certification process?

  • We’re members of the W3C, the organization that wrote the WCAG that are accepted as the go-to accessibility standards across the globe.
  • We’re also members of the IAAP, of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals.
  • We’re a global leader in digital accessibility, and have years of experience working with companies large and small — all while supporting digital accessibility and advocating for equal access and inclusion for all users.
  • We not only work to remediate accessibility issues for other companies — we also cheer on, support, and teach companies about digital accessibility and how to fix it, too.

Learn more about Online ADA’s certification process or contact us to discuss your accessibility needs and options today.

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The Author

Lily Clark

Lily Clark