In late 2019, the Supreme Court handed a major victory to disability advocates as the Court ruled in favor of Guillermo Robles, a blind man who sued Dominos. He was unable to order food from their website or mobile app.
After all, the more people that are able to shop for cars, the more vehicles dealers will sell.
This lawsuit was one example of a trend increasing nationwide. In 2018, 2,200 lawsuits were filed over website accessibility, nearly triple the number from the previous year. Largely due to the increased public awareness among the 15% to 20% of the population who self-identify as having a disability, this spike in legal suits demonstrates a widespread need for businesses to emphasize digital accessibility, and the reasons for doing so go beyond protection from litigation.
It should go without saying that enhancing website accessibility is a socially responsible decision that combats discrimination and shines a positive light on the company that made the effort. However, it’s also simply bad business to single out and limit access to a select group of the population. For example, a blind person admittedly might not be driving a newly purchased vehicle, but they still have an important say in the family purchase.
Are you compliant?
Dealers face a significant challenge in remaining ADA compliant while catering to various groups of consumers.
So, how can a dealer make sure they are in compliance with the ADA?
Website compliance is a two-part process that involves both content accessibility and platform accessibility.
For starters, dealers should align themselves with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which were developed with the goal of creating a single shared standard for website content that meets the needs of all individuals. These guidelines serve as a basis for dealers to cultivate their online presence. While they are currently recommendations, the guidelines provide a strong example of what dealers’ online content should emulate.
Remediation and assistive tools are the two primary, proactive ways dealers can foster platform accessibility for all consumers.
Remediation is the biggest differentiator among third party accessibility partners. While many companies offer accessibility audits, most merely report the list of errors without resolving them. To ensure a high level of compliance, dealers should seek out partners that accurately test specific browser combinations, assistive tools and screen readers, and then correct any errors they find. These companies that check and correct liabilities provide the most value to dealers looking to cultivate an inclusive environment for all consumers.
Why is this your responsibility?
Assistive tools offer users the ability to tailor their website experience to individual needs through specific features, such as:
- Audio players that enable users tolisten to the content read aloud from the website.
- A reader which allows consumers to customize the visual display of the site.
- Voice command functionality to be used throughout the browser.
A common question from dealers is why do they have to pay for this service; shouldn’t the website provider be responsible for ensuring the site is compliant? It’s a fair question, but the manual tests and remediation efforts by developers that ensure optimal functionality take up a significant amount of time. Content is always changing on the web, that’s what keeps sites fresh and up-to-date. It takes vigilance, proficiency, and dedication to ensure your sites are compliant. Using a service that regularly checks your site lets the experts handle compliance – so you can focus on selling cars. It is an investment that can substantially improve the overall customer experience for site visitors.
In 2020, when even the smallest of negative news stories can dominate a media cycle, it’s more important than ever for businesses to be mindful of providing access to all consumers. After all, the more people that are able to shop for cars, the more vehicles dealers will sell.
Jeffrey Pierce is senior director of user experience for products at Dealer.com.