An Accessibility Issue Doesn’t Mean A Website is Inaccessible (Not ADA Compliant)

Just because a website has accessibility issues does not necessarily mean that that website is inaccessible. And this is an extremely important distinction because many plaintiffs’ law firms root their claims in technical accessibility issues. 

But we need to determine whether a significant degradation and experience or outright barrier to access have been created. And so to illustrate my point, I have drawings, three rudimentary drawings of webpages behind me. And they’re represented by rectangles. And in this first rectangle I have is square and four lines beside that square. 

And this is meant, meant to represent your typical e-commerce, product page. And so let’s say the image of this product is outright missing alt-text, so it’s not marked as decorative.So screen readers aren’t going to bypass it, and there is no alt text description. So what happens instead is that image file name is going to be red and that can be annoying, that can be distracting. 

But does that create a barrier to access? Likely no. And so you may argue, well, the image, is conveying meaning, so that meaning needs to be conveyed well; that meaning is likely going to be conveyed in the text description adjacent to that image.

So how much, how much of a loss has there been, how much of a degradation and experience has there been? The next example I have at the very top of the webpage, I have a smaller rectangular bar that is meant to represent a skip link except for I’m pointing to that and saying that there is no skip link available.

And this is referring to success Criterion 2.4, 0.1 of the Web Content Accessibility Guide. Bypass blocks and what the success criterion gets at is there is a way to bypass redundant or repetitive information or content, usually at the header of a website. And in this, in this example, there is no skip link.

So when we think of bypass blocks, we typically think of a skip link, but that’s not always necessary. In fact, one of the sufficient techniques under 2.4 , 0.1 is having headings that precede, the different sections of content, and heading. Headings offer a way to navigate through a website. Moreover, so do landmarks.

And so in this page, I have an H1, H2, H3, and then I have section one, section two, section three, and section four, representing the different landmarks at the header, main body of content. Sidebar and the footer, and this is all to say that there are other means of bypassing the redundant or repetitive content.

And screen media users typically use headings as a way to navigate through a website. So while optimally, yes, there is a skip link, just because there is not a skip link does not mean access has been denied. And in my last example, I just have two links. So, I just have brackets around the word link twice.

And this is meant to re-represent redundant links. And redundant links actually isn’t- that’s not actually an issue. Under the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, there’s no success criterion that requires that you not have the same link adjacent. Two of the same links are adjacent to one another.

This is an issue that, comes up primarily because the WAVE automated scan, has an alert for redundant links, but redundant links even. It isn’t even a technical requirement under the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. 

Moreover, while this can create an additional link to go through for a screen reader user, it doesn’t create a barrier to access and it just- it would just be situationally dependent on whether this actually creates a significant degradation and experience.

And these aren’t the only examples of where an accessibility issue doesn’t necessarily create, a website where there’s been a significant degradation experience or an outright barrier to access.

So you have to evaluate them on a case-by-case basis. But the point here is just because you have an accessibility issue on your website doesn’t necessarily mean you have an inaccessible website.