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Compliance Led By Compassion

Question: What do Winn Dixie, Rolex, Netflix, Burger King, Amazon, and Beyonce all have in common?  

Answer: They have recently made headlines for lawsuits due to some aspect(s) of their websites and/or apps being inaccessible or unusable for individuals with disabilities, in violation of the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1). The outcomes of these and similar cases have changed and influenced website standards for anyone who uses, creates, owns, or manages a website.

While the catalyst for digital platforms to be WCAG 2.1 compliant has largely been fueled by the threat of a lawsuit, the changes being made to meet these standards benefit everyone. According to the US Census, blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, learning disabilities, and cognitive limitations affect about 1 in 5 people. So potentially, 20% of the US public might be unable to access or use your digital platform if compliance is not core to the design and build. This lack of accessibility and our ethical and moral obligation to make our work, and ultimately our clients’ information, accessible to all is what has driven Mission to educate our clients and integrate compliance best practices into all of our digital work.

One of the biggest challenges to achieving compliance is grasping at ever-evolving and often ambiguous requirements. While the guidelines provided are helpful, they are also broad and open for interpretation. This makes compliance difficult to guarantee and maintain. Daily practices in design, coding, and digital strategy must be adopted and adhered to in full team collaboration to be successful. Each project must be approached with the human experience in mind, never promoting the isolation or segregation of a group or individual by developing tools, information, or services that are inaccessible. 

Mission’s dedicated, cross-departmental internal committee has compiled a full checklist and quality assurance process and invested in the education of both our staff and our clients, to ensure that we are developing products that are Perceivable (pertaining to Vision/Hearing), Operable (pertaining to Motor Skills), Understandable (pertaining to Cognitive) and Robust (pertaining to Motor Skills and Cognitive). Checklist items may be as subtle as designing so that the values of the colors in call-to-action buttons have enough contrast to be read by someone with low vision, or providing alternate text on images so that a screen reader can describe the details of the image verbally. Or, they can be more complicated, such as precisely coding the entire site so that every piece of functionality on the site is equally as available for every user. This approach ultimately helps us create a more inclusive and adaptable digital experience that’s useful, accessible, and enjoyable for every user.