Did you know that 79 percent of accessibility lawsuits in the United States were against ecommerce websites and mobile apps in 2022? Many of them were ecommerce websites with less than $25 million in revenue.
European Union eRetailers: You Could Be Next.
Starting from June 2025, the European Accessibility Act (EAA) will come into full enforcement. This landmark legislation aims to ensure that digital services and products provided by businesses across Europe are accessible to all, including individuals with disabilities. It sets specific standards and requirements for accessibility, promoting inclusivity in the digital landscape. Ecommerce businesses must take note of these changes, as non-compliance could lead to legal consequences and financial penalties.
Putting The Spotlight On Product Video, Audio and Documentation.
Ecommerce businesses must go beyond websites and mobile apps. Ensuring that product manuals, invoices, receipts, marketing materials, and audio/video product descriptions are accessible is paramount.
Making digital documents accessible takes a great deal of effort and knowledge. Many are inaccessible, untagged, scanned images, or have no alt-text for images, tables, charts, etc. These efforts are essential to make sure that people with disabilities can access and understand the content using assistive technologies and devices including Braille instruments.
- Enhancing Product Descriptions: By adding closed captions and text transcripts to videos and audio descriptions, you can make your content inclusive and accessible to those who are unable to hear or visually impaired.
- Keyboard Compatibility: In product manuals, invoices, and other documents, structure the content with clear headings and a logical reading order, facilitating easy navigation for individuals who rely on keyboards, thus enhancing accessibility and user-friendliness.
- Accessible Forms: Create accessible forms with clear labels and validation messages, enabling users of all abilities to interact seamlessly with your online services.
- OCR Issues: OCR scanning can introduce issues like misinterpretation of text, formatting errors, and missing content, impacting the accuracy and accessibility of digital documents.
- Color Contrast Issues: Having poor contrast in text and designs can make it difficult for color vision deficiency individuals to focus and read texts.
Here’s Why eCommerce Businesses Should Prioritize Document Accessibility:
- Better Experience: By making documents more accessible, eRetailers can provide a better shopping experience, which attracts a broader audience and fosters brand loyalty.
- Market Expansion: By making all digital content accessible, eRetailers open their doors to a wider customer base, including individuals with disabilities, tapping into new markets and demographics.
- SEO Benefits: Search engines favor accessible content, leading to higher search rankings and increased visibility.
- Protection from Lawsuits: Ensuring document accessibility helps eCommerce businesses avoid costly lawsuits and legal complications, especially considering evolving regulations like the European Accessibility Act (EAA) 2025.
Why Should eRetailers Act Now?
While the European Accessibility Act (EAA) will be enforced in 2025, eRetailers should start focusing on document accessibility immediately. Understanding EAA requirements takes time, and implementing accessibility, especially with documents due to its complexity. Staff training and the need for testing and refinement also demand early action. By proactively addressing accessibility, eRetailers not only ensure compliance but also gain a competitive edge, attract a diverse customer base, and demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity.
What Steps to Take Now?
- Understanding the Current Accessibility State: Start with a thorough accessibility audit of product documentation, audio, and video descriptions. Evaluate your team’s grasp of EAA requirements.
- Accessibility Roadmap: Decide whether to remediate documents in-house or seek external experts’ help for 100% compliance. While both options have merits, leveraging external experts can ensure that your documents achieve 100% compliance, providing peace of mind and reducing legal risks.
- Establish Well-defined Processes: Set up workflows, quality assurance (QA), and security measures, considering a hybrid model i.e., combining both automated and manual processes for efficient accessibility integration.
- Allocate Time for Staff Training: Invest in ongoing staff training to ensure everyone understands EAA requirements and accessibility best practices, from content creators to developers.
Document accessibility isn’t just a legal obligation; it’s a testament to your commitment to providing an inclusive experience for all. It’s about making sure that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can access and benefit from your digital content.
At Apex CoVantage, our team is dedicated to helping you achieve this goal. We can conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your documents and provide the necessary guidance to ensure they are accessible to everyone. Together, we can create a more inclusive and equitable digital landscape for a brighter tomorrow.