While often overlooked in modern web design, a focus on accessibility and compliance is critical to protect yourself from potentially business-threatening lawsuits, regulatory fines, and liability for data hacks or breaches.
Today – 2017 at the time of this writing – compliance is more important than ever because of the nature of the web. The internet is becoming a hub for business processes, transactions, and the transfer of potentially-sensitive information – and that means that companies must conform to a certain set of regulatory standards in order to protect this information.
Accessibility for all users is also important because of this. As the web becomes more important in our everyday lives, governments are taking steps to ensure that disabled persons can have the same levels of access to the internet as those without disabilities.
Let’s take a deeper look at these topics now, and discuss how your business can benefit from better accessibility, and by complying with regulatory standards.
Accessible Websites Are Protected From Lawsuits – And Increase The Reach Of Your Business
The first benefit of having a website that’s accessible to the disabled is a reduction in liability.
There have been dozens of high-profile court cases involving large corporations and services such as Target, eBay, Netflix, Monster, and Ticketmaster – among others – where organizations representing the disabled showed that sites did not conform to standards for accessibility set forth by Section 508 disability standards found in amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. While most of these lawsuits have been settled out of court, the costs associated with each were high.
However, on June 13, 2017 a ruling in the first trial involving website accessibility, a federal judge in Florida ruled that supermarket chain Winn-Dixie violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 by failing to make its website accessible.
While smaller eCommerce websites are unlikely to be targeted by these sorts of lawsuits, it can still be beneficial to conform to these web accessibility standards insomuch as it allows broader usage of your service. The goal of your business should be to serve everyone – disabled persons should be able to transact business on your website.
So focus on accessibility – these guidelines by the w3c are a great place to start – and expand the reach of your business, while reducing liability. You can also work with a group like ours to identify the key issues and prioritize the main accessibility issues for repair so that WCAG 2.0 compliance can be achieved. WCAG 2.0 is the standard currently being pursued by plaintiffs in court.
Compliance With PII, PHI, And PCI DSS Standards – Avoiding Fines & Liability
As online transactions have become more common, many federal guidelines have been laid out, regarding information such as PII, PHI, and regulatory standards such as PCI-DSS
- PII – PII stands for Personally Identifiable Information. Essentially, this can be any piece of information that distinguishes one individual from another, such as financial information, credit card numbers, and unique identifiers like Social Security numbers.
- PHI – PHI stands for Protected Health Information. This category of information contains any and all information about medical records, payment histories, and health status.
- PCI-DSS – PCI-DSS stands for “Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard”. While this standard is administered by a third-party company – not the US Government – compliance with the security standards set forth in PCI-DSS is still important to avoid liability in case of fraud or data breaches.
Websites that collect PII or PHI and do not comply with regulatory standards can have a serious liability risk – as can eCommerce websites that fail to comply with PCI-DSS standards.
Invest In Accessibility And Compliance, And Reduce Risk
Though it can be expensive to invest in regulatory compliance and accessibility, it’s well worth the cost. You need to protect your company from legal actions, and ensure that it can continue to evolve with changing regulatory standards.
So don’t ignore accessibility and compliance. If you do, your company could be at risk.