Last week the Supreme Court refused an appeal which now allows blind people to sue companies if their websites are not fully accessible to them. The ruling should be a wake up call for employers, especially when it comes to the design of their career sites.
As reported by the LA Times, “In a potentially far-reaching move, the justices turned down an appeal from retailer Domino’s and let stand a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling holding that the Americans With Disabilities Act protects access not just to restaurants and stores but also to the websites and apps of those businesses.”
When creating a website, there is a set of design standards called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG. These standards have always been an afterthought for most companies and web designers. But the Dominoes ruling changes that. Now it may cost you real dollars (and embarrassment) if your site isn’t designed to include those with disabilities.
Recently, Phenom People, the talent experience management platform, was the first such vendor in HR tech to announce their career sites adhere to the WCAG 2.0 standard. Phenom Access is a set of features within their platform that enable your career pages to more easily support assistive technologies and WCAG 2.0 standards.
Career sites on Phenom are compliant out-of-the-box with pre-approved canvases and widgets. In addition, any changes made within the Phenom CMS are automatically reviewed prior to publication and flagged for any compliance issues.
Parker Bettis, an Implementation Manager at Phenom People, who has spent several years working to optimize web environments with these standards said, “Over one billion people worldwide have some form of disability that may prevent access to digital content, including visual, auditory, speech, mobility, cognitive, and neurological impairments. They often face significant inclusion challenges in today’s online talent experience.”
Common web access barriers include no screen reader compatibility, missing alt text for images, lack of closed captions for video and even poor color contrast.
Bettis likens it to the same way wheelchair ramps enable those users to access a building… digital accessibility refers to designing and coding a website to eliminate barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully accessing the site.
“Fortunately, the tide is turning” he added. “But it’s important to point out that there is a difference between designing for accessibility and designing with empathy. Digital accessibility requires us to meet the formal WCAG guidelines however building with empathy requires a team to acknowledge there’s an issue, understand why it’s an issue, create a long-term plan to fix existing problems, and speak loudly about the issue to encourage others to make amendments of their own.”
In an era of diversity and inclusion, these web standards are now a must have for any corporation.
Your company’s lawyers are sure to thank you.