Case Study: Reducing ADA Compliance Risk Rapidly and Cost-Effectively
When a major consumer electronics company found itself at risk of litigation for failure to meet globally accepted standards and best practices for digital compliance, it needed to act fast.
At stake: the company’s ability to bid for government contracts, its public reputation, and its ability to engage millions of potential customers.
Combining best-of-breed automated tools and machine-learning technology with industry-leading consulting experience, AudioEye’s comprehensive compliance services brought the consumer electronics company into compliance rapidly. The AudioEye service also ensures that accessibility will be maintained as both content and regulations evolve.
On the path to accessibility from day one, thanks to a full compliance plan and associated legal support.
Resolved a significant portion of accessibility barriers automatically.
Ensures substantial conformity with required guidelines on an ongoing basis.
Maintained the client’s ability to bid for state and federal government contracts.
Avoided the need to rapidly build up internal non-core skills and knowledge, while still receiving digital accessibility training for company employees.
Barriers to Commerce
Making your website accessible to users of all abilities is not just a moral imperative. By the thousands, companies of all sizes, representing all industries, are being sued for inaccessible online content, with plaintiffs claiming an inaccessible site is a violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Further, Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require state and federal governments to ensure their online content is accessible, which extends to any organizations that receive federal financial assistance or those that contract with the state or federal government. And while the ADA does not mandate compliance for commercial organizations, there is growing legal precedence in the US courts for rulings against private companies also.
Moreover, with an estimated 25 percent of US adults – and 40 percent of those over 65 – living with disabilities, companies are increasingly aware of the significant opportunity cost of losing potential sales through non-compliance.
When the U.S. arm of a major global consumer electronics company discovered that its website did not conform to the global standards for digital accessibility, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), it faced potential loss of significant business with state and federal government organizations. A company spokesperson says: “We knew that continued non-compliance with website accessibility standards and requirements would lead to the loss of business-to-government opportunities. We were also concerned about the negative impact on our reputation, and mounting legal fees and financial penalties for non-compliance.
The consumer electronics company modeled three possible responses. The first was to use its internal digital marketing team to bring the website up to the required standard and maintain ongoing compliance. This would require the internal team to develop and maintain company-wide standards and best practices, as well as establish coding for accessibility training. This level of commitment would set the company back months, if not years, and negatively impact agile development cycles. Furthermore, the company would then be responsible for generating compliance reports and associated documentation.
The second option was to engage an external consultant to audit the site and instruct the internal team to apply the appropriate accessibility updates. While this approach side-stepped the need to internalize knowledge and skills, it would have left the company dependent on a third party, with significant ongoing fees for audits and updates each time there was a site change or an update to the WCAG standards. This option presented a clear roadmap for any issues of non-compliance but was costly and still required significant time and potential setbacks to implement fixes.
“Understanding how the courts interpret the various accessibility regulations and standards is a non-core expertise we didn’t want to necessarily build up internally. We wanted to lean on the industry experts,” says the company spokesperson. “We also wanted to avoid the significant fees and lengthy timelines that came with relying on a consultant every time we made a site change.”
The consumer electronics company decided instead to outsource the management of its compliance to an external vendor. The internal compliance team identified three potential suppliers. Two offered free software to identify a small percentage of non-compliant website elements, but still required a costly consultant-led review.
“By contrast, the proposal from AudioEye was immediately compelling,” says the spokesperson. “AudioEye offered to take on the responsibility for maintaining our accessibility compliance, and at less than half the cost of the other companies.”
AudioEye leverages the efficiencies of its patented technology coupled with machine-learning to automate the testing and remediation of common issues of accessibility. For anything that technology can’t immediately fix, AudioEye then uses its subject-matter expertise to create custom remediations, certifying compliance with legal requirements and conformance with WCAG standards, providing a user Help Desk to report any issues of accessibility, and enabling enhanced usability through the AudioEye Accessibility Toolbar.
AudioEye’s automation discovered and fixed a significant percentage of compliance issues immediately. AudioEye then drew on expert engineers and Assistive Technology (AT) testers to remediate remaining issues.
Once the consumer electronics company’s website was updated to substantially conform with WCAG standards – which also made it compliant with Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act – AudioEye added its AudioEye Trusted Certification, switched on the full functionality in the Accessibility Toolbar, and moved into the monitoring and maintenance phase. AudioEye will continue to collaborate with accessibility stakeholders to share testing results and to educate them about web accessibility best practices they can incorporate to improve accessibility. As new content is published to the sites and/or web applications, AudioEye provides continuous behind-the-scenes monitoring to ensure ongoing compliance and conformity, freeing the company to focus on content and branding.
“In our experience, AudioEye offers the fastest, most comprehensive, and most sustainable route to conformity,” says the spokesperson. “If you have a large and complex website, it’s impossible to fix it overnight—but with AudioEye, you get legal support and protection from day one, with a clear testing and remediation plan that you can use to demonstrate compliance. Then, as you work toward full accessibility, you can respond to litigation confidently and in a recognized best-practice way.”
Full Compliance, Reduced Risk
As the U.S. website continues to maximize conformance to the WCAG, the consumer electronics company is compliant with the required contractor web accessibility standards for state and federal agencies, enabling it to continue to work with government agencies and significantly reduce its risk of website accessibility litigation. “With WCAG conformity, our site is accessible for people using industry-standard assistive technologies such as the JAWS® screen reader,” says the spokesperson.
“And as the regulatory standards are updated, AudioEye updates its processes to stay ahead of any changes, so that we don’t need to have that competence in-house.”
The spokesperson adds, “Working with AudioEye enabled us to achieve compliance faster and more cost effectively than we thought possible. And as we move forward, AudioEye maintains our compliance without slowing down the launch of new site content or requiring us to shift priorities from other projects. We can focus on our business with peace of mind, knowing we have an expert watching our back.”
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