In 2023 and beyond, the importance of website accessibility is on the rise. As the population of individuals with disabilities continues to grow and legal obligations for compliance become more stringent, it is important websites are made to be inclusive and accessible to a diverse audience. Despite legal obligations, compliance in these practices allows small businesses to connect to a wider array of users. In this article, we’ll delve into the requirements and significance of web accessibility and provide advice on how to make your website inclusive from a small business perspective.


Who Regulates This?


Website accessibility standards are primarily regulated at the federal level in the United States. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), prohibits discrimination due to a disability, and though it does not explicitly outline technical standards for website accessibility, it is generally interpreted that websites be accessible to people with disabilities as they are places of ‘public accommodation’. The ADA amendment act of 2008, widened the definition of ‘disability’ and made it clear that businesses must adhere to ADA standards and ensure their websites are accessible to people with disabilities. So, who actually checks this? The Web Accessibility Initiative (WIP) within The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) are in charge of implementing and enforcing accessibility standards across the internet, including the publication of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The WCAG guidelines make web content more accessible and allow for inclusive experiences for all users. It is the international standard. It’s good to note that the WCAG series is designed to be backwards compatible, so when assuring your website is accessible follow the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.


Risks Of Being Noncompliant


Businesses and brands with websites and web apps that aren’t ADA compliant face legal consequences and can encounter revenue losses. This dual challenge, encompassing both legal and economic dimensions, backs the importance of website accessibility in this digital era.

Over the past decade, the number of ADA federal lawsuits filed has seen a substantial increase, more than doubling from 2015 to 2020. This has caused businesses to apply web accessibility practices which opened the door to welcome more customers to engage.

Currently, as per the CDC, around 16% of the global population and 26% of the population in the United States have some form of disability, which amounts to over 1.3 billion people worldwide. The impact on businesses is too much to ignore. According to the US Department of Commerce, companies that apply accessible website standards are generating around $6.9 billion annually to competitors who don’t prioritize website accessibility.

Businesses are suffering from the consequences of not tapping into this present day standard. In 2021, online retailers suffered an estimated loss of $828 million during the holiday season because their websites were not accessible.


Web Content Accessibility Guidelines


The WCAG is defined by four key principles (POUR):

Perceivability (Provide) “Users must be able to perceive the information presented” – users can see the content or have alternatives available

Operable “Users must be able to operate the interface”- users can use their preferred technology to interact with the website

Understandability (Understand) “Users must understand the Information and the Operation of the user interface” – website specifies language and parts of text on pages

Robust “Users can assess the content as technology advances. As technologies evolve, the content should remain accessible.”


Web Accessibility Is Affordable


You might be thinking that fixing your website to adhere to these principles may be quite expensive for small businesses. The good news, it does not have to be.

Many of the best practices for an accessible design cost almost nothing. For example:

  • Adding alt text to images and videos through captions and audio descriptions
  • Writing descriptive text for hyperlinks
  • Appropriate color contrast
  • Semantic HTML


Tips For Web Accessibility


When just starting to focus on website accessibility, it’s important to adopt a proactive approach. Here are some tips to help your small business make its website without breaking the bank.



There are numerous tools and plugins designed to seamlessly integrate with existing websites, offering features such as text to speech, magnification, etc. These tools come with affordable subscription plans or a one time purchase. If you use WordPress as your CMS the following plugins are free and popular – WP Accessibility, Accessibility by Okta, One Click Accessibility, WP Accessibility Helper, Accessibility by UserWay.


Content Management Systems

Using a CMS is a cost effective way to build and/or maintain a website. Content Management Systems such as WordPress, Joomla, and HubSpot CMS Hub allow small businesses to create a user-friendly website that doesn’t require high level expertise (which is expensive.) Once the website is made, you can begin to activate plugins that are offered to optimize your website.


User Testing Platforms

There are online platforms that can provide valuable insights into how users with disabilities interact with a website. These platforms offer affordable testing plans and you can use the insight to gain actionable feedback and identify areas of improvement. Some popular UTP’s are Maze, Lookback, and UserTesting.


Community Resources and Forums

A popular online forum is IAAP Connections which focuses on web accessibility. Small business owners can join these communities to access knowledge which will help navigate their accessibility challenges and stay updated on cost-effective solutions.


Government and NonProfit Resources

Government agencies and Nonprofit agencies often offer free resources for web accessibility. For example, the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) offers extensive resources and guidelines for businesses of all sizes. By leveraging these resources you can learn how to implement web accessibility strategies without having to spend money.


Training and Education

For small businesses, it’s important to establish the capability to make your website accessible in-house. This will save money by not having to use external services and their long term costs. With internal expertise, you are able to implement and maintain inclusive practices independently, resulting in sustainability and financial efficiency. If your team does not have the internal expertise, it’s a good idea to enroll them in a training program to educate them. LinkedIn Learning offers a training course to provide the skills and fundamentals to apply these principles.


Overall, the key to having an accessible website is to adopt a proactive approach, embrace available resources, and gradually implement accessibility measures over time. By doing so, businesses not only meet legal requirements but also create a more inclusive online environment for all users, which points to more business.