Why it is Important to Make Your Website Accessible
Over the last few decades, the internet has become a global phenomenon. Part of the allure of the internet is its universal accessibility: anyone, anywhere, and at any time can use the internet. But the question stands: is the internet as accessible as we think? Disabled people are unfairly left out from the internet if their disability prevents them from accessing digital media. Inaccessibility to the internet is a huge problem, and the Israeli government has introduced regulations seeking to create greater equality among website users.
When did accessibility regulations begin?
On October 25th, 2013 Israel passed the “Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Act” which included regulations on website providers. Regulation 35 made it mandatory for websites to have accessibility features. Starting in October 2015, all new websites were required to be accessible when launched. All preexisting websites had to be updated in order to fit accessibility standards by October of 2017. Israeli regulations were based on global guidelines called “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines” created by the W3C organization.
I have a website. Do these regulations apply to my website?
Most likely, yes, these regulations apply to your website. Accessibility regulations apply to all websites which provide service or information to the public. This includes websites which are operated privately as well as publicly. Also, merchants who sell products via the internet must accommodate buyers with disabilities. Even Israeli websites which are operated from outside of Israel are required to have accessibility accommodations.
However, there are instances in which a website owner may be exempt from making an accommodation to people with disabilities. For example, a website owner will be exempt when making adjustments is impossible due to a technology limitation. Additionally, people who are considered Osek Patur, or self-employed, and make less than 100,000 NIS annually are exempt from accommodation regulations.
How can I make my website accessible?
There are many ways to make your website accessible, but the following represents three examples of important accommodations.
Alternative tagging should be used for all images included in the website. Rather than tagging the image something like “123.jpg,” rename it to describe the image. Alternative tagging allows people who use screen reading devices, due to a visual disability, to understand the images on a website.
Captions can be used for any audio or video content. Captions are especially important to help those with hearing impairments understand audio content.
Websites should include options which allow the text to be enlarged without distorting the content on the page. Websites should also have options to adjust the color contrast in order to assist those with visual impairments.
What if my website remains inaccessible?
If your website remains inaccessible to people with disabilities, you may be at danger of being sued for up to 50,000 NIS. These damages will be awarded to the disabled person unless the website owner is able to prove that they didn’t know about the violation and took reasonable measures in the circumstances of the case in order to prevent the violation.
For more information on website accessibility please contact the experts at Aviv Lazar & Co.