Posted on 01/24/2019 at 10:31 AM
When designing your website, it’s important to consider the layout and the content, but there’s another very important structural component that you should also keep in mind.
ADA and Screen Readers
To summarize the Americans With Disabilities Act: A business can’t prevent a disabled person from purchasing goods and services.
For someone who is blind, all of the wonderful content, textual or visual, that you’ve created only matters if your website is set up in a way that is presentable for the visually impaired.
The way someone who is blind interacts with a website is by utilizing a screen reader. If you’ve gone through the trouble to make a great website experience for visual users, you should also think about the user experience of someone who can’t see your website.
What About the Pizza?
Back in 2016, a visually impaired man tried to place an order with Domino’s Pizza on their app, but was unable to do so because of issues with the app’s screen reader.
Among his other complaints were that the app and website didn’t have the proper text to allow him to complete his order. He was also having issues trying to redeem discount coupons through the Domino’s app.
The man’s case was dismissed by a U.S. court in 2017. But the case didn’t end there.
On January 14, 2019 an appeals court sided with the plaintiff and decided that Domino’s Pizza didn’t do as much as it could for someone who is visually impaired to successfully complete an order.
User Experience For the Visually Impaired
From the perspective of the user, the experience of engaging with a website or an app that doesn’t have content properly grouped, indexed, and presented is a giant block of rambling.
The experience can seem like you’re listening to a long rambling story without any ideas about what’s important, how things connect, or what you need to do in order to complete a task.
If someone’s relying on a screen reader, you can be pretty certain that they aren’t going to use your website if it is not ADA compliant. Not only that, if they make the mistake of visiting your website, they won’t return and Google will take notice of the lack of interaction.
If we know anything from Google’s indexing, it’s that user experience is king. And you should do everything you can to increase interaction and help to make the experience of using your website or app as smooth as possible for both visual and non-visual users.
What To Do?
One way to think about making your website more accessible for the visually impaired is that you’re being proactive and investing your money in helping people to access your goods and services. This is a much better use of resources than paying legal fees to defend your position or settle a case that came about as a result of your website not being ADA compliant.