On June 13, 2017, U.S. District Judge Robert Scola of Florida ruled in favor of Mr. Gil in the case Juan Carlos Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. (case no. 16-23020). It was determined that the Winn-Dixie grocery chain was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
What was interesting about this case is it had absolutely nothing to do with Winn-Dixie physical stores. On the contrary, the issue was with their website, which prevented Mr. Gil “the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations” that in-store shoppers received. Mr. Gil is legally blind and also has cerebral palsy, and so he relies on screen readers in order to shop online.
Why Is This Case a Big Deal for Digital Marketing Agencies?
Upon finding Winn-Dixie in the wrong, the judge ruled the following:
- Winn-Dixie faces a three-year injunction. During that time, they need to immediately bring their website up to speed with WCAG 2.0 criteria.
- Mandatory updates over this three-year period will also be required in order to keep their site in compliance.
- Although Winn-Dixie does not owe Mr. Gil any sort of settlement fee outside of attorneys’ costs, they estimate the cost of the website accessibility fix could be upwards of $250,000.
- Because Winn-Dixie has a number of third parties that manage and use various parts of their site, those entities are now also required to be in compliance with WCAG 2.0.
- Winn-Dixie must place an accessibility policy on their website, notifying customers of their ability to cater to individuals with disabilities.
- Finally, all employees responsible for working on the website will have to undergo accessibility training.
Here is the First Big Reason
The fourth, fifth and sixth ruling is what is going to drive every digital marketing agency crazy. This means a business that offers web development will have to be able to create ADA compliant websites before they can work for any type of business in any industry. All of the content providers for digital marketing agencies will have to be able to provide the digital content compliant to ADA guidelines.
The Second Big Reason
Overall, it is about time digital marketing agencies, and all digital content providers, create websites and content that everyone has equal access. Yes, this is a change for everyone, but a good change. It is not hard to comply to the ADA Guidelines.
Here are some of the best practices to keep in mind when designing an accessible website:
- Use text descriptions for images, video, and other media.
- Used closed captioning for video.
- Make your site keyboard-friendly so a mouse or finger is not required to move around it.
- Simplify the navigation. You may also want to think about adding breadcrumbs.
- Create a consistent layout.
- Design with sharp color contrasts between the text and background.
- Use symbols to clarify the purpose of key elements of color blindness or other visual impairments prevent color signals from directing users to where you want them to go.
- Use header tags for a clearer organization of the text.
- Use clear labels for all form fields.
- Include text resizing capabilities.
- Enable voice search.
Make Videos ADA Compliant
As this case expands to other businesses in other industries, more businesses are going to find they are in a bind by not being compliant. The quickest way for a business to begin the process of being ADA Compliant is have videos produced that offer a visual rendition of the text content that is published on the site. This does not mean have one lone video produced. It means a video for every aspect of the business needs to be made.
Downside of ADA Complaint Videos
Yes, this move to mandate every business that offers a product or service to the public, online or offline, will mean every business must have an ADA Compliant website. This also means more businesses are going to want to take the easy way out and attempt to produce their own videos. The warning for those businesses who go the DYI Video direction will be the same as before.
Yes, it is easy to whip out the cell phone and create a fun casual video. Yes, the cost of cell phone videos is cheap. However, what everyone, including those who are disabled, want is quality content.
Consumers, disabled or not, all mandate quality viewing. This means quality video, quality audio, and quality close captions. Most businesses are going to quickly find producing their own videos is going to take away from their business focus and as a result, are going to produce poor quality videos.
Why wait until you are questioned by someone who is disabled on why your website is not accessible to them? Make the change now and avoid the negative image.
Contact SyncLab Media to learn more about their Digital Marketing Roadmap.