Research shows: business owners expect their web agencies to take responsibility for web accessibility and inform them if their website is non-compliant

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Awareness for web accessibility is on the rise. From the client-side to the agency side, all parties involved are looking to make their and their client’s websites more accessible. This is partly a result of successful web accessibility awareness campaigns, but it is also due to an increase in website accessibility lawsuit filings in federal courts.

Regarding the lawsuits, filings in federal courts significantly increased in 2020 from 2019, with consumer goods and apparel industries being hit the hardest with digital accessibility lawsuits. The lawsuits alleged that plaintiffs with disabilities—such as visual, hearing, motor, and cognitive disabilities—weren’t able to use websites as a result of non-compliance with legal accessibility requirements. The total number of lawsuits in 2020 was 2,523, an increase of 7% from the previous year.

But just how aware are of accessibility are web agency clients? In order to answer this question, we conducted a survey of business owners with websites for their companies to get a grasp of their knowledge and understanding of web accessibility.

Our survey consisted of 1,000 people, with almost an even split of males and females. 100% of participants have a website for their business, and all have an agency that maintains and promotes their business’ site.

The results found that 91% of participants expect their agency to bring it to their attention that their website should be accessible to people with disabilities, given that accessibility is mandatory. 87% of those surveyed expect their web agency to inform them of the legal obligation and consequences of having an inaccessible and non-ADA compliant website. In comparison, 92% expect their agency to make their website accessible as part of the process.

The survey concludes that most clients aren’t knowledgeable of ADA compliance and web accessibility guidelines. Therefore, being that agencies handle most of their clients’ digital assets, ensuring that a client’s website is accessible ends up being the agency’s responsibility. After all, all-things-web is the agency’s specialty, not the client’s.

“We familiarized ourselves with web accessibility legislation after two clients of ours were served with a demand letter. As a leading web agency, we now know that providing an accessible website is the new digital standard, therefore we’re now providing accessibility solutions for all of our clients’ websites” said Andrew Baxter, CEO of White Label Web Agency.

With the pandemic and the resulting increase in remote workers, we can expect to see even more accessibility lawsuits and ADA demand letters. Not only are these litigations and settlements time-consuming and expensive, but they also hurt a business’s reputation. Being labeled as not inclusive to people with disabilities is a bad look for an organization. On the other hand, being able to promote the fact that one’s website is accessible will only help with marketing.

Take the first step to knowing if your website or your clients’ websites are accessible and ADA compliant by using a free web accessibility testing tool such as aCe, WAVE, or Lighthouse.