Are Shopify Ecommerce Websites ADA Compliant?

Because we don’t know precisely what makes a website ADA compliant, we need to ask another question. We need to ask whether Shopify websites are automatically WCAG 2.1 AA conformant.

So why are we asking this well because the ADA is unclear. The standard for ADA is meaningful access so it’s unclear when a website is meaningfully accessible and when it’s not and so when we look for clarity, we need to look to technical standards that have been referenced and cited over and over again to have a- to have a clear baseline on what we need to do.

And the president technical standards are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 conformance level AA. And these have been referenced by courts, by plaintiffs’ lawyers, by the Department of Justice- they’ve been used internationally these are highly robust standards that help us ensure that our website is at an excellent level of accessibility.

So is Shopify out-of-the-box WCAG 2.1 AA conformant?

No, but nor is any other website builder’s templates, especially when you consider that every template is going to be customized and when a user customizes a website template they can take it out of WCAG 2.1 AA conformance depending on what they do with their customization.

So for example, let’s say that I put an image on a website but they don’t assign an accurate alt- alternative text value to it.

That would mean that I had taken the website out of conformance if it wasn’t conformance so when we ask is our Shopify website ADA compliant, it’s a bigger question and we have to look at the specifics.

So I like to look at things in terms of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines because there we have we have explicit guidelines that we can look to and we can see then we can subjectively determine whether or not we meet those guidelines.

And whereas with the with the ADA we might think that we have provided meaningful access. but a plaintiffs law firm may not and they may decide to initiate litigation regardless of what we think. Of course that can happen whether or not you’re in conformance with WCAG 2.1 AA, but if you are in conformance it is highly unlikely that you would receive litigation.

So generally Shopify websites- I think Shopify needs to do a better job with their templates out-of-the-box. They have some apps in the app store that claim to make your website accessible or WCAG conformant, but these plugins do not work.

Or they might be called- they might be referred to as apps whatever the case, they end up- they’re basically widgets that you can install on your website and then accessibility options present themselves. These options do not work for accessibility.
I know that’s in stark contrast to what the plugins or apps or widgets or overlays (as they’re sometimes- often referred to)- I know that’s directly that directly opposes the claims that are made by these overlays but that is the truth is they do not address accessibility in terms of I will- I will say that they do not make you ADA compliant.

ADA compliant means meaningful access. These overlays overlays do not provide meaningful access so that’s a side tangent.

I have another video on that but the important part is that when you when you have a Shopify website it is not instantly accessible and I think- and Shopify can do more on that regard.

But even if they- even if Shopify has excellent templates out-of-the-box, there’s still work to be done on the part of the user to ensure accessibility. When I say user I mean the customer who is building the Shopify website.

So that’s what you should keep in mind when using Shopify or any other website builder- doesn’t matter if it’s Square Space or Wix or GoDaddy Website Builder or any other ecommerce platform.

When you have this- when you’re when you’re using this these platforms keep in mind that many of them don’t start from a place of accessibility and you need to customize your website to ensure accessibility.