The internet belongs to everyone, but not everyone enjoys equal access. Web accessibility is a hot topic these days, and for good reason. Over 1 in 4 American adults live with a disability. That’s 61 million Americans living with a mobility, hearing, vision, cognition, or self-care disability. While the ADA has helped those Americans when they’re traveling from place to place or running daily errands, a whopping 98% of the world’s top one million websites don’t offer full accessibility or compliance. That doesn’t even include websites for local businesses, let alone websites in the legal space.
If your law firm’s website isn’t accessible, not only are you excluding a large population from using your site, you’re also excluding a large population of potential clients. Omnizant can help your firm build meaningfully accessible websites.
What is Accessibility?
Accessibility is the practice of making your website usable by as many people as possible. Many times, people use the shorthand of “ADA website compliance.” Traditionally, most people think about accessibility as something for those with disabilities only, but accessibility also benefits other groups. For example, those using mobile devices (talk-to-text anyone?), those with slow network connections, or those who are experiencing a situational disability, like only being able to use one hand when carrying a child or having their hands full.
Web or digital accessibility means that everyone—regardless of ability—can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with information on the internet. It helps provide an equal experience for those with disabilities or impairments, which means a better experience for everyone.
Why You Want an Accessible Website for Your Firm
While having an accessible website for your law firm means increasing your potential client base, it can also reflect who you are as a firm. An accessible website can be an extension of your firm’s values. You want to be inclusive and have your website POUR—be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Building an accessible website means building a great website. When your site POURs, every user benefits.
Keeping an ADA Compliant Website
Having an accessible site means having a website that is compliant with federal, state, and international laws. For example, the ADA and state laws in California and Colorado all require digital accessibility. Outside of the US, Canada’s Human Rights Act, the European Union Web Accessibility Directive and European Accessibility Act all promote digital accessibility. You don’t have to just follow regulations to build an accessible website. You can follow accessibility principles using W3C or with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Another benefit to having an accessible website is that they are often less costly to maintain. Accessible websites typically use cleaner code, which leads to faster load times, fewer errors, and improved search engine results for your site. Having a more streamlined code for your website means maintenance will be more straightforward. Your site can still be dynamic as needed, leading to fewer chances of your site crashing and a better user experience for everyone.
Examples of Accessibility
While it’s easier to build an accessible website from scratch rather than trying to retrofit an already built site, there are some easy ways you can make your website more accessible:
- Alternative Text – All your images should include an equivalent alternative text to provide information for the visually impaired or those who turn off images.
- Clear, Concise Content – Having clear content laid out logically expands your audience and improves the on-page experience for everyone. This is beneficial for users with cognitive impairments and pretty much everyone else.
- Text to Speech (TTS) – Providing an option to have users listen to text, rather than read, is helpful for those with visual impairments, second-language learners who have better listening comprehension, or for multi-taskers. Screen readers are a common example of TTS.
- Closed Captioning – Often seen as optional, closed captioning is mandatory if you want to create accessible content. Closed captioning is not only useful for those with hearing impairments, but for those who don’t speak the native language of the video.This allows you to reach viewers in a wider variety of environments. For example, ads with captions have an increased video view time of 12%. More importantly, 80% of users react negatively when videos play sound when it’s unexpected.
Other examples of website accessibility include having good color contrast on your site; having large links, buttons, and controls; and keyboard only navigation. If all of this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. Many ways of increasing accessibility on websites are intuitive, and something you don’t have to do alone.
How Omnizant can Help
Omnizant is a legal marketing agency focused on developing websites that are fully compliant with WCAG Guidelines, and what people would call ADA website compliance. Your fully compliant website can be built from the ground up, or your current site can be audited to identify areas where accessibility can be improved. This remediation process and work happens behind the scenes in your site’s code, so the overall aesthetics of your website won’t be affected.
Additionally, all of Omnizant’s websites, whether custom built or improved-upon, are fully accessible on their own. This means no browser plug-ins or accessibility overlay tools are needed. All Omnizant designers are trained in best practices and every element of your site is evaluated and optimized for accessibility and works with assistive technologies.
If you’re curious to see how accessible your law firm’s website currently is, Omnizant offers a free consultation or website audit. Reach out to Omnizant to learn more!
Victoria Sileccia, the Chief Marketing Officer at Omnizant, recently had a great discussion about accessibility with our Legal Tech Advisor, Zack Glaser. Take a look at the video below to get some immediate and actionable tips on how to build an accessible website, what POUR and other accessibility principles are, a great blog post from Omnizant on expectations and your law firm’s website, and how to ensure continued ADA and WCAG compliance.
How to Get It
Omnizant is an award winning legal marketing agency specializing in organic SEO and building dynamic and accessible websites for law firms of all sizes and practice areas. They help attorneys propel their practice by enhancing your image, broadening your reach, and supercharging your operations.
Want to learn more about Omnizant? Check out our full review, where you can see a features list, other demo videos, and community comments. Remember that Lawyerist readers get an affinity benefit through the review page.
Last updated July 14th, 2022