Web accessibility, WCAG and ADA Compliance  for Shopify

Accessibility should be top of mind for any and all Ecommerce websites because no one would willingly shut off their store to potential customers. Unfortunately for Shopify users, accessibility is an afterthought, leaving many business owners vulnerable and people with disabilities excluded from websites across the web.

See the accessiBe installation guide for Shopify here

For Shopify users to achieve accessibility, there are only two options, both of which place the responsibility and effort in the hands of the user. Shopify does not have any built-in accessibility elements, meaning that without intervention your online store is inaccessible to people with disabilities and at risk of web accessibility lawsuits.

The first option is to remediate your website manually. Shopify does refer developers to the WCAG 2.1 AA, or the web content accessibility guidelines, but makes it clear that it is up to them to meticulously follow the thousand-page set of instructions and urges constant testing. While the WCAG are in fact the most updated and widely adopted accessibility standards worldwide, this can still be a tedious and challenging task for even the most experienced developer. If your coding skills don’t meet the task, then you can outsource the work but keep in mind that it can cost you thousands of dollars which is a hefty sum for most online stores.

Another option is to download an app, widget, or plugin from the Shopify store. If only it were that easy. Web accessibility is too complex for any free widget to fully undertake. In fact, using one of these extensions only fulfills 20% of the WCAG compliance, mainly design-related adjustments. Full WCAG 2.1 AA compliance is an extensive process that needs code revision, adjustment, and maintenance, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. 

Achieving screen-reader compliance and keyboard navigation, two of the main elements which make up the remaining 80% of the WCAG, requires top-notch special attention and expertise. Don’t be misled by these apps because web accessibility is so much more than a few design adjustments and simply not something that can be done for free. 

The importance of an accessible Shopify website

20% of the world’s population has some sort of disability. For eCommerce websites, this is a significant customer base with massive revenue potential that you could be missing out on if your website is not accessible. More importantly, an inaccessible website denies people with disabilities access to basic goods and services, knowledge, and contribution to society. Simply put, an accessible website will make the world a better place. 

It is important to note that websites that fail to comply with the WCAG 2.1 AA are at risk of litigation. Since the recent DOJ affirmation that websites are considered places of public accommodations, web accessibility lawsuits have increased by 300% for failure to comply with the ADA Title III. Ecommerce websites have been the main target due to the increase in digitalization, with SMBs at the center of the storm.

Using accessiBe with Shopify

accessiBe helps Shopify users make their websites accessible and compliant. By using robust AI and automation, accessiBe scans your website for all accessibility deficiencies and remediates it asap With accessiBe, not only is your online store open to people with all disabilities but you'll also mitigate legal risk. accessiBe dramatically cuts valuable time and money for business owners, making accessibility achievable and affordable even for mom-and-pop shops.