Make Your Online Store Accessible to PWDs with accessiBe

by Josh Biggs in Ecommerce on 10th April 2020


Amid the COVID-19 crisis when buying online is one of the safest options, online store owners need to understand their moral responsibility of making their websites accessible.

If your website isn’t accessible to persons with disabilities (PWDs), then you’re denying them of the help they need — especially during these trying times.

Not only that, it’s worth pointing out that failing to make your website accessible violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) — putting you at risk of facing potential lawsuits.

The good news is, there are automated web accessibility solutions that you can use to help you with your website’s accessibility.

accessiBe is one such example. It is an AI-powered web accessibility solution that’s fully automated.

In this review, we’ll take a look at how you can make your online store accessible to people with disabilities in the COVID-19 era with accessiBe.   

Why you need to provide web accessibility

Making your online store accessible to disabled users can help ensure equal access to ALL your customers — regardless of their disabilities.

Not only will this allow disabled people to use your website effectively, but it can also widen your reach — which helps increase your sales. 

Also, since your PWD customers will have a better experience while on your store, it encourages them to return and make repeated purchases.

To implement web accessibility on your online store, you’ll need to adhere to ADA standards. 

However, since the ADA has not set specific guidelines yet, the safest way to achieve compliance is to meet the technical requirements in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, which is the latest version.


accessiBe’s web accessibility platform can help you achieve this with its automated solution and technologies that ensure your website is compliant to the ADA and WCAG 2.1 at all times.

With this, people with disabilities can use your site and buy from your store with ease, especially during the COVID 19 pandemic, when access to physical stores is highly limited. 

What is accessiBe?

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of accessiBe’s features, tools, and functionalities, let’s get to know the platform first.

accessiBe is a fully automated ADA and WCAG 2.1 compliance solution for your website that enables accessibility to a broad array of people with disabilities and help them use your site effectively.

The platform uses foreground and background components that work together to make your website compliant and accessible. 

The foreground application mostly handles design-related accessibility adjustments and the User Interface (UI). 

On the other hand, the background app utilizes computer vision and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies for screen reader and keyboard navigation optimization.

All these features and more make accessiBe one of the most simple and cost-efficient web accessibility solutions in the market. 

Plus, because accessiBe is fully automated, you won’t need to make manual adjustments to your web design, modify your website every time it updates, or adapt newly added content for accessibility and compliance.   

Accessibility interface

accessiBe’s foreground application provides an accessibility interface that allows disabled users to make adjustments to your website’s design to suit their needs and according to their disabilities.

Here are some of the interface’s functionalities.

Color and display

The accessibility interface’s various color contrast profiles allow users with color blindness and visual impairments to adjust your website’s color display to dark, monochrome, inverted, and light.

The feature also lets users change the color schemes of your website’s texts, backgrounds, and titles to different color options. 

Content

With accessiBe’s content adjustments feature, users can easily modify the font type, increase and decrease the text size, change alignment, line height, spacing, etc. 

Users can also emphasize elements such as titles and links, plus select hovered elements or highlight focus only — which are very useful for the visually-impaired. 

Navigation

Persons with disabilities can change the way they want to browse through your website by changing the cursor size and color, hiding images, enabling letter navigation, and more.

The navigation adjustments feature also provides a dropdown list of useful links within your website — which makes it easier for disabled users to find and quickly jump into them. 

Other interface capabilities

The accessibility adjustments interface also offers additional functionalities, including a virtual keyboard and a Stop Animations option that pauses any moving images, GIFs, and more that can trigger seizures in people with epilepsy. 

Plus, the feature offers a built-in dictionary that lets users type in words and get their meaning quickly within the interface — which can help people with cognitive disorders.  

AI-powered processes in the background app

accessiBe uses AI in its background app to optimize for two accessibility components. 

Screen reader optimization

accessiBe uses machine learning techniques to learn all the components of your website to provide the screen reader software that blind people use with meaningful data via the Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) set of attributes.

For instance, the platform’s AI technology will provide actionable icons descriptions (such as social media and search icons), element roles including menus and buttons, accurate form labels, and more. 

The AI will also scan all your web images to provide meaningful and accurate image-object-recognition-based descriptions as alternate text (ALT) tags.

Plus, accessiBe’s AI uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to extract embedded texts within your images.     

Keyboard navigation

accessiBe uses AI to optimize for keyboard navigation to allow users to navigate your entire website with the TAB and SHIFT+TAB keys 

This includes triggering links and buttons using the Enter key, operating dropdowns with arrow keys and closing them by pressing ESC, and more. 

The AI makes this possible by adjusting your website’s HTML and then adding various behaviors using JavaScript code to allow full keyboard operation on your site.  

Additionally, the platform provides a content-skip and quick-navigation menu that keyboard users can enable by clicking ALT+1 combination keys. 

With accessiBe’s AI-powered solution, you can save time, effort, and resources in ensuring that your website remains accessible to persons with disabilities and ADA compliant 24/7.   

Installing accessiBe

The most effort you’ll exert in using accessiBe is during the installation process, and even then, you’ll only need to follow a few simple steps. 

There are two primary ways to install accessiBe.

With the quick and basic method, you can copy the JavaScript snippet from accessiBe and paste it to your website’s system. 

After 48 hours, your site will be fully accessible and compliant. 

The advanced installation process allows you to customize how accessiBe’s accessibility interface will look on your website first, and the platform will then generate a custom script that you can embed to your site.   

accessiBe also provides specific step-by-step installation guides for installing the platform to WordPress, Shopify, Wix, and more.  

Final thoughts

While accessiBe isn’t free, it’s certainly affordable. Also, when you think about the benefits it brings and the fact that it can protect website owners from hefty lawsuits, its value is further highlighted.

Not only does accessiBe make it very easy to turn your online store into an accessible, ADA and WCAG 2.1 compliant website, but it also ensures that all users can browse through your site effectively and buy your products with ease.

Plus, making your website accessible will help keep your business away from potential accessibility-related lawsuits.

Categories: Ecommerce