Digital accessibility and compliance may not be something you've considered for your B2B website. Many businesses think they only need to worry about website accessibility and compliance on a B2C site. After all, the majority of lawsuits filed under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) pertain to website accessibility and compliance on B2C sites, where consumers are unable to access information that is not formatted properly for today's accessibility hardware and software.
However, focusing on ADA compliance only on B2C sites may be detrimental because your B2B site can also fall under scrutiny. You never know when a potential client may need to utilize accommodations to access your site; therefore, ensuring that your B2B site meets compliance and accessibility standards is imperative.
Accessibility and Compliance Are Important
Image via Flickr by GEEK KAZU
The ADA became a law in 1990 to establish accommodations for people with disabilities and improve accessibility in all areas of public life, including places of employment, educational institutions, transportation, and all private and public locations that are open to the general public.
This also includes the internet and access to online information. Your company risks potential lawsuits unless your B2B site is accessible to every visitor. Furthermore, a potential business transaction can be worth thousands of dollars. Making sure your B2B site meets accessibility and compliance standards is one more way to help guarantee you don't lose a single client.
Another consideration is that while your main contact from a client's office may have no trouble accessing your website content, his or her associates may lack that ability. A client may have several employees with disabilities, or employees who become injured or need accommodations due to age or various other factors.
With technologies such as screen magnification and voice control in common usage for people with and without disabilities, your B2B website can easily accommodate a variety of accessibility concerns.
Your Brand Will Benefit
When you begin to think about accessibility and compliance on your B2B website, you're also thinking about your company brand. Businesses that take care of their clients end up doing better financially in the long run.
Brand loyalty is all about relationship building. Relationships are built every time a potential client has contact with your company, whether in person or through a website. By meeting the needs of each of those potential clients and showing that your business takes accessibility seriously, you are building that essential level of brand loyalty. Your clients will notice how inclusive and accommodating your ADA-compliant B2B site is, which is exactly the kind of information they will pass along to other potential clients.
Making Your Site Accessible Is Easy
Making sure that your B2B website is ADA compliant and accessible to clients with a wide range of disabilities is fairly simple. First, most accommodations fall into the category of assisting people who cannot use their eyes or ears to access information effectively. Therefore, the most common accommodations utilized online will be to describe visual and audio information.
Second, more and more people are using assistive technology to interact with online content, so your B2B website should accommodate various kinds of assistive software.
These accommodations can be done with very little hassle if they are taken into consideration at the beginning of your website design process. Many businesses report that when they incorporated accessibility accommodations into the design, their website became more functional and easier to use for everyone, not just people with disabilities.
There are some simple design elements that you can take into account when considering accessibility and compliance on your B2B website. For example, make sure that all images, video, and auditory media have a descriptive alt tag or a lengthy description. Closed captions and transcripts should be available for any audio or video media. Avoid using graphic interchange format (GIF) files or flashing images. Also, include descriptions for any user input fields that make it very clear what input you are looking for.
The Department of Health and Human Services provides a convenient HTML 508 compliance checklist that you can use when doing an initial website design or overhauling an existing site.
Different Assistive Technologies
If you're not familiar with the number of assistive technologies available today, you should take the time to explore how to incorporate these into your web content. This will not only protect you legally under the ADA but also help you attract and retain customers.
Perhaps the most widespread technology is one that was originally designed for deaf or hard of hearing clients: closed captioning. For disabilities involving an inability to process spoken language easily, closed captioning is a common technology that delivers better communication.
Many people with visual impairments utilize a screen reader. This transcribes the content on the screen and allows the user to navigate around the site via keyboard control. With additional software, the user can change the contrast on the screen. They also have the ability to zoom in and out on various points of interest.
People with mobility issues can access internet content through keyboard-only navigation technology and switch control devices. Additionally there is voice-to-text software, which have become so popular that people with and without disabilities depend on them daily.
IronPlane Can Help
At IronPlane, we understand the role of assistive technology when it comes to accessibility and compliance on your B2B website. We are very familiar with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and can help you design your eCommerce website with these in mind.
Accessibility and compliance are not just legal mandates or something to worry about for a B2C site. They are vital components of your B2B site, as well. Being inclusive is a design theme that is for all your clients, not just for the direct consumers.
IronPlane can help you design your site to maximize user-friendly technologies and improve accessibility. Whether you are in the beginning stages of a startup or are looking to redesign an existing B2B site, we can help. Contact us today so we help you with your accessibility and compliance needs.