Today, billions of people use the internet for almost everything, such as shopping, communicating, and even entertainment. The internet has become a very important part of everybody’s lives. This is why small businesses must have an online presence to cash in on the large market present on the web. A website is the best way to achieve this.
Nonetheless, the end users’ best interests must be kept in mind when it comes to the web. As a result, many countries have developed laws and regulations that govern website accessibility. As a small business owner, you should be aware of any regulations guiding the accessibility of services and products. This will ensure that your website is available to everyone, including people with disabilities.
One such regulation developed to help guide accessibility is the European Accessibility Act (EAA). Here’s a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about EAA compliance and how it may affect your small business.
What’s The European Accessibility Act
The European Accessibility Act (EAA) was proposed in 2011 and adopted in 2019 to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to information and communication technology (ICT), including websites. This was a major boost to website accessibility considering about an 80million people in the European Union (EU) live with a disability.
The EAA applies to all ICT products and services that are part of the European internal market. If your small business offers ICT products or services to people in the EU, you must ensure they are accessible.
The EAA covers a wide range of ICT products and services, including:
- Self-service terminals;
- Smartphones; and the like.
These products and services must be accessible to people with different disabilities. The EAA requires that ICT products and services be designed and developed in an accessible way from the outset. This means considering the needs of people with disabilities when designing and developing products and services.
What Does EAA Compliance Mean For Small Businesses
As an entrepreneur of a small business, you must ensure your website is accessible to people with disabilities. This means ensuring that your website meets the accessibility requirements in the EAA. These requirements are based on international standards, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). An accessible website is also important to your business as it helps increase your customer base.
Per authorities, your website must be Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust (POUR) to meet these requirements in the name of EAA compliance:
- Perceivable: Your website must be designed so that users can perceive its information. This includes using alternative text for images, videos, and infographics.
- Operable: This means that users must be able to navigate and use your website. This includes having a well-designed navigation system and using accessible forms.
- Understandable: This means that users must be able to understand the information on your website. This includes using clear and simple language.
- Robust: Your website must be compatible with assistive technologies. This includes using valid code and providing audio and video content text transcripts.
How To Be Compliant With EAA
There are many ways to ensure your website is accessible to people with disabilities. To lend you a hand, here are some of the most important things you need to do:
1. Work With A Reputable Web Developer
While it may be tempting to develop your website or application to help save money, meeting the accessibility standards outlined in the EAA guidelines will be challenging. Therefore, working with a reputable web developer with experience developing accessible websites is important.
The developer should be up-to-date with accessibility and security compliance regulations. They should also be able to provide a list of previous projects they have worked on a similar project.
2. Use Accessible Themes
Themes are a great way to save time when developing a website. But not all themes are created equal. Some themes are developed with accessibility in mind, while others aren’t.
When choosing a theme for your website, check that it is accessible. A good way to do this is to look for a theme with an ‘accessibility-ready’ badge. This means that the theme has been tested by an accessibility expert and meets the standards in the WCAG guidelines.
3. Include Alt Text For Images
Alt text is a short description of an image. It’s used by people who are blind or have low vision to understand what is on the page. Search engines also use it to index images. When adding images to your website, be sure to include alt text. This can be done in the ‘alt text’ field when you upload an image.
Alt texts can also be used when the image isn’t visible, such as when it’s blocked by a browser extension or loads slowly, making it invisible to the user.
4. Add Transcripts For Audio And Video Content
You must provide transcripts if you have audio or video content on your website. Transcripts are text versions of the audio or video content. They provide people who are deaf or hard of hearing with a way to understand the content.
You can create transcripts yourself. Or you can use automatic transcription services; these services use speech-to-text technology to create transcripts. Yet keep in mind that they aren’t perfect and may contain errors. Therefore, it’s important to proofread the transcripts before publishing them.
As a small business looking to take a spot in a very crowded online space, you must ensure that your business complies with the EAA. This will give your business a competitive advantage and peace of mind that you aren’t discriminating against potential customers. EAA compliance isn’t difficult to achieve, but it requires time and effort. By following the tips mentioned in this post, you can ensure your website is accessible to everyone.