Navigating Accessibility Laws and Compliance for Your Business Website

The Smart Approach


1. Web Accessibility Uncovered: The Surface Issue and What Lies Beneath

Imagine the internet as a big playground where everyone should get to play. But sometimes, some people find it hard to join in because websites forget to include everyone. In Australia, there’s a cool set of rules called the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) that makes sure websites are friendly to everyone, no matter what. This guide is like a treasure map, helping us understand the rules, why they’re super important, and what businesses can do to make their online spots awesome for all. So, let’s buckle up for a ride into the world of web accessibility where everyone gets to have a blast!

Getting real with the Law: Let’s talk about a real story. There’s this big Aussie business, and they had a bit of trouble because their website was tricky for people who can’t see well. One person felt left out and decided to speak up by using the DDA rules. It’s like saying, “Hey, everyone deserves a fair go online!” This story reminds us that following the rules isn’t just about avoiding trouble. It’s about being kind and making sure everyone, no matter what, can use websites without any problems.

While the main idea behind web accessibility laws like the DDA is to make sure websites are usable for everyone, there can be some interesting twists. These laws are like the referee in a game, making sure everyone follows the rules. Now, sometimes, people might try to use these rules for their own gain. For example, attorneys could step in, not just to make things fair, but also to gain something for themselves or their clients. It’s a bit like using the rulebook not just for justice but maybe to score a few points.

For example, according to information sourced from the Bureau of Internet Accessibility, a limited number of USA-based law firms bear the brunt of web accessibility lawsuits in the country. Surprisingly, more than 66% of all web accessibility lawsuits in 2022 were initiated by just five law firms. It’s crucial to highlight that this statistical concentration doesn’t cast doubt on the legitimacy of the lawsuits; instead, it underscores the pivotal role played by a handful of legal entities. If a business based in the USA were to receive an accessibility demand letter in 2024, there’s a high likelihood that it could be traced back to one of these five prominent law firms:

  • Stein Saks, PLLC – 372 lawsuits
  • Mars Khaimov Law, PLLC – 360 lawsuits.
  • Mizrahi Kroub LLP – lawsuits filed.
  • Manning Law, APC – 260 lawsuits.
  • Pacific Trial Attorneys, APC – 259 lawsuits.

    Source: Bureau of Internet Accessibility. (2022). “2022 Web Accessibility Lawsuits Recap: 4 Key Takeaways.” Retrieved from

Now, here’s where it gets very tricky. Some less privileged individuals might see these laws as a way to gain benefits which is not always the case. If a website isn’t following the rules, they might file a complaint, hoping for a settlement. It’s not always about making things right but sometimes about what they can get. It’s like turning the rules into a game of chance, hoping to win something in return. Competitors, too, might want to create a storm. They could use these laws as a tool to stir up trouble for their rivals. Imagine a soccer match where one team tells the referee the other side isn’t playing fair. In the digital world, it’s a similar tactic. By pointing out flaws in a competitor’s website, they might create chaos and grab a slice of the market share. So, while these laws are meant to level the playing field, sometimes they can become a game in themselves, with unexpected players trying to score in different ways.

When it comes to web accessibility lawsuits, the surface issue might appear to be about pointing out accessibility errors, but underneath lies a high-stakes game with significant compensation at stake – at least, that’s our perspective. Opinions are subjective and generally not subject to legal dispute, as the legal system prioritises facts and evidence over personal viewpoints. So, apologies, you can’t dispute our opinion. Nevertheless, in numerous cases, compensation sums have soared into the millions, underscoring the gravity of these legal battles. A glimpse into past instances in both the USA and Australia provides insight into the magnitude of this game.

In the USA, the Americans with disabilities has played a pivotal role in web accessibility lawsuits. A notable example involves the retail giant Target, which, in 2008, faced a class-action lawsuit for its website’s inaccessibility to individuals with visual impairments. The outcome? A settlement of nearly $6 million. This case established a precedent, heightening businesses’ awareness of the repercussions of neglecting web accessibility.

Australia, too, has seen significant legal actions, with several organisations having to compensate affected individuals. While not delving into specific details yet, these incidents emphasise the potential financial implications of non-compliance. These examples underscore that web accessibility lawsuits go beyond fixing a few website issues or making websites accessible. While the motives of regulating bodies or governments may be limited to improving accessibility and promoting independence and equal opportunity, there could be people who explore ways of benefiting from it with strategic manoeuvres and substantial compensation as the endgame. Businesses, regardless of size, must be cautious players in this arena, ensuring not only adherence to accessibility standards but also a keen understanding of the financial stakes involved. It’s a lesson from the past that resonates loudly in the current landscape of web accessibility litigation.

Well, motives such as financial gain are not the only players here. Imagine you’ve invited a diverse group of friends for a delightful tea gathering. You’ve prepared an assortment of treats—chewy candy, jerky, and chocolate-coated nuts. However, in the midst of the warm invitations, you unintentionally overlooked the dietary needs of one friend who has no teeth. As the friend struggles to enjoy the offerings, frustration sets in. The misalignment between what’s provided and what’s needed becomes palpable.

Now, transpose this scenario to the digital realm. In our narrative of web accessibility, individuals with diverse abilities are akin to your friends with various preferences. The online environment is the tea gathering, and websites are the treats offered. Just as the friend with no teeth encountered frustration due to the mismatched treats, individuals with disabilities encounter frustration when websites aren’t designed with accessibility in mind.

In the digital landscape, frustrations arise not only from personal emotions like anger or jealousy but from encountering barriers that limit equal access. Our friends with disabilities, much like the friend without teeth, face challenges in navigating and perceiving digital content. It’s not about personal preferences; it’s about creating an inclusive space where everyone can participate fully. If the host had added a touch of yogurt, ice cream, bananas, and custard to the tea party, akin to the toothless delight it brings to my grandfather, the whole issue might have been non-existent.

In the unfolding story, these frustrations become the driving force behind legal actions. Lawsuits are not mere expressions of personal emotions but strategic manoeuvres to rectify systemic issues. When the law permits and expectations are not met, some tend to strike and knock down the players. Yes, individuals with disabilities are advocating for change, seeking to eliminate digital exclusion, and ensure that online spaces are as accessible to them as they are to others. Yet, it’s a narrative of inclusion, equality, and the collective journey towards a more accessible digital world, though there may be many other motives behind the scene.

Well, here’s a personal experience. A USA-based client recently approached us with an audit report highlighting a list of accessibility issues on her website. Her business is a small e-commerce site that sells no more than 10 products—let’s say, homemade jam bottles. Surprisingly, a legal case was filed by a blind individual who couldn’t make a purchase due to some accessibility issues on the site. Technically, the client could pass the accessibility responsibility to the e-commerce platform she’s using, but the intricacies of these cases often surpass the knowledge of business owners and their attorneys. They are not tech-savvy and rely on audit reports.

The intriguing question arises: why sue a small business owner who is selling homemade jam bottles? Is this the work of a competitor aiming to disrupt the business, or is it orchestrated by an attorney steering the case? This example invites contemplation on the motives behind such lawsuits, particularly when targeting seemingly modest enterprises. It suggests that competitors or legal entities may strategically use web accessibility lawsuits as a tool, creating turbulence for businesses, big or small, in this ever-evolving digital landscape. The motivations behind these legal manoeuvres extend beyond mere accessibility concerns, painting a more complex picture of the dynamics at play in the realm of web accessibility litigation.

2. Accessibility from a Wider Perspective

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, the debate over making websites DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) compliant sparks discussions about inclusivity, resource allocation, and the potential unintended consequences of legal mandates. Let’s explore the aspects of this debate, challenging the notion that not putting extra effort into making a website DDA compliant equates to discrimination.

Making a website DDA compliant involves a considerable time investment, resources, specialized tools, strategic planning, thorough testing, and ultimately a very hefty financial burden. The reality is that these costs may be passed on to all customers through higher product and service pricing. As we navigate this terrain, we must ask: Should businesses bear this financial burden alone, and how can we strike a balance that ensures accessibility without compromising the quality of the website for all?

Have you heard about the case of Gisele Mesnage vs Coles over the online shopping website? Do you know about the case of Maguire v. Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games?

Generally, in lawsuits related to web accessibility, a plaintiff’s claim is rooted in the principle of equal treatment or non-discrimination. In legal terms, this concept aligns with the idea that the plaintiff is seeking fair and equal treatment without any special considerations or efforts for inclusion. The plaintiff is essentially asserting that they should be treated on par with the rest of the people, without facing unjust or differential treatment based on specific characteristics or circumstances. If you refer to the statements from the plaintiffs in above two cases, you will see that the concept emerges in their statements, emphasizing their quest for equal and fair treatment.

If you examine these cases closely, you will notice that the equal and fair treatment equates to special treatment or consideration to make something accessible to a specific group of people which comes at a hefty cost. Let me explain this very clearly: First, take a look at the examples of direct discrimination below:

  • Refusing Service: A restaurant denies entry to a person with a visible disability, even though the establishment is physically accessible.
  • Unequal Pay: An employer pays lower wages to employees with disabilities for performing the same job as their non-disabled counterparts.
  • Job Denial: A qualified candidate with a disability is not hired for a position despite meeting all job requirements, solely based on their disability.

Here is an example of indirect (unintentional) discrimination: not providing special treatment or consideration to make something accessible to a particular group of people, incurring a significant cost.

  • Inaccessible Website: A company (X) failed to employ a Web Accessibility Specialist with IAAP Certification or an individual accredited by the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative to conduct the business website audit, which would have cost $10,000. If they had conducted the audit and received a report, the implementation of recommended changes would have incurred an additional cost of $50,000.

Putting it simply: the company never said to individuals with visual impairments not to shop on their website nor to physically come to the store; instead, they failed to spend $60,000 to make their website readable to a screen reader, which is also a business where the audience is exclusively individuals with visual impairments.

The focus on DDA compliance can, at times, divert resources from other crucial aspects of business. Striking a balance becomes imperative to ensure that accessibility measures enhance the overall user experience for everyone and not just a minority. The standard website cost $6,000, while the cost for DDA compliance was $60,000. The question arises: will the price increase for the service ultimately be borne by non-disabled customers due to the high business expenses? Did company X inadvertently discriminate against 90% of non-disabled customers by providing special services to the disabled?

As we navigate the legal landscape, distinctions between equal treatment and reasonable accommodation come to light. Businesses and service providers are required to ensure that their goods and services are accessible to individuals with disabilities, including those who are blind. This encompasses physical access, information accessibility, and the provision of reasonable accommodations. The debate emerges: What constitutes a reasonable accommodation, and at what point do these accommodations become an undue burden for businesses?

Legal principles recognise the concept of “undue hardship” or “unreasonable burden” in accommodations. Acknowledging that businesses cannot be required to undertake actions that pose a significant financial or operational burden is vital. The question persists: At what point do accessibility measures become an undue burden on businesses, affecting all customers?

Let’s take Maguire v. Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games case for example. Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games estimated an “unjustifiable hardship” of $2.2 million, which is to rectify and resolve the missing ALT attributes (not limited to) that prevented Maguire from understanding what’s on the photos on the website. Maguire was ultimately rewarded $20,000 for the fact that the website was missing ALT attributes, and the screen reader could not read what the photos depicted.

Who do you think bears the burden of that $2.2 million?

Ultimately, it boils down to a misunderstanding of the purpose of a photo. A photo is intended to be seen. If someone cannot see a photo, an explanation is necessary; otherwise, it’s considered discrimination. It’s akin to saying, “Hey, camera manufacturers, we can’t see the photos taken by your cameras, so you must implement highly effective AI technology to accurately describe the photos to us. Otherwise, you are infringing upon our rights to the fair use of the device you manufactured.

Had Maguire declined the reward, solely desiring websites to be accessible, I wouldn’t be providing such extensive information to caution you if she had. It’s not always about justice; sometimes, it’s about financial gains. To put it plainly, why invest so much time in writing this? Is it solely for fairness or love for my clients? Clearly not the primary reason. If you’re in trouble, it affects my business, and I’ve identified an opportunity in the accessibility business. Primarily, it benefits my business and, subsequently, benefits my clients.

So, the bottom line of accessibility compliance is an increase in consumer pricing for all goods and services that ultimately the non-disabled will also have to cope with. It may be by 1% or may be 10%.

Discrimination laws often assume that society collectively bears the responsibility for rectifying individual conditions. But should individuals be collectively responsible for circumstances beyond their control? Does making digital platforms accessible become a shared societal fault, and should everyone bear the financial burden?

Examining the recurring trend of disabled individuals filing lawsuits and receiving compensation raises critical questions about the current legal framework. While court outcomes may mandate DDA compliance, the role of financial compensation prompts concerns about the true focus of advocacy efforts. The significant portion of web accessibility lawsuits culminating in financial compensation raises concerns. Does this shift the emphasis from making the web accessible to lawsuits becoming a means for financial gain? How do we ensure that the intended objective of accessibility advocacy aligns with the predominant outcome?

I believe we need to adopt a more sustainable and impactful approach—a shift towards incentivizing proactive measures for accessibility. How can businesses be motivated to invest voluntarily, supported by government funding, educational initiatives, and positive reinforcement? Can this foster a culture where inclusivity is a sincere commitment, rather than merely a legal obligation backed by coercive measures?

Instead of perpetuating a cycle of legal battles, a collaborative approach involving businesses, disabled advocacy organizations, and regulatory bodies can pave the way for lasting change. How can clear guidelines be established, offering support for businesses to implement accessibility features? Can compliance be incentivized through positive recognition, creating an environment where accessibility is a shared goal rather than a legal obligation?

Australia’s laws do not mandate private businesses to comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA. However, the legal framework promotes the narrative that inaccessible web content can be considered discriminatory, as it treats people with disabilities less favourably than those without disabilities. Moreover, the law views the refusal to make a “reasonable adjustment” to a website, ensuring its content is accessible to someone with a disability, as an act of discrimination.

Now, what exactly constitutes a “reasonable adjustment”? Can businesses implement such adjustments to make their websites accessible to everyone in general? Well, as I emphasise, adhering to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA standards is not mandatory. Still, there are alternative, easy, fair, and morally sound ways for businesses to achieve accessibility.

Before I can provide you with information about these cost-effective alternatives, I need to show you what’s out there in the market to address website accessibility needs.

3. DDA and Accessibility Products in the Market

How much does a website accessibility audit typically cost?

Generally, the cost spectrum begins at $10,000 for a straightforward informational website, while an e-commerce site may incur expenses ranging from $25,000 to $35,000. Regarding the expenses associated with implementing recommendations stemming from the audit, it’s challenging to provide an exact figure. However, it is safe to say that the costs incurred in remediation are generally higher than those associated with the initial auditing process.

In the pursuit of a quick solution, various plugins, widgets, apps, and API services claim to automatically rectify all accessibility issues within minutes for a subscription fee of less than $1,000 per year. Despite these claims, none of these solutions deliver as promised. I confidently assert that they engage in deceptive practices, exploiting accessibility regulations to construct a business model grounded in misinformation. True native level website accessibility requires thorough human examination and careful decision-making to ensure compliance with standards and ethical business practices.

Let’s take a closer look at two such major providers marketing instant fixes for achieving full DDA compliance:

  1. Userway
  2. accessiBe

When you visit either of these websites, take note of the disability icon situated at the bottom left or right-hand side. This icon represents an accessibility widget or overlay. Upon clicking the icon, you’ll discover various options allowing you to modify the website according to different disability profiles. This seemingly convenient solution, however, fails to deliver genuine accessibility and may not ensure DDA compliance as advertised. I also recommend you to carefully review the fine print and the terms of use.

Accessibility widgets operate by allowing users to interact with and modify the website’s presentation, yet the underlying source code remains unaltered. These widgets introduce automated adjustments dynamically, utilizing client-side technologies like Javascript. These adjustments are temporary patches applied while the site is loaded in the user’s browser. They encompass enhancements in color contrast, structural changes, alternative text (ALT tags), ARIA attributes, and other accommodations, aiming to convey users with diverse needs. Additionally, some widgets leverage AI technology to generate ALT tags for images lacking them. It’s crucial to note that these accessibility widgets fall short of providing solutions at a native level. In other words, they do not alter server-side code to permanently rectify issues without relying on overlays.

Individuals with disabilities often rely on their personalised screen readers and input devices, avoiding conventional mouse and keyboard interactions. Additionally, they may use screen magnification tools. In this context, these users typically do not require accessibility widgets. What they seek, and what the law advocates for, is equal treatment through universal design and functional techniques that seamlessly integrate with their software and assistive technologies. It’s essential to recognise that accessibility widgets can pose challenges by interfering with users’ assistive technologies, creating additional obstacles in their online journey. However, this isn’t the primary concern. Among the numerous examples I’ll share, one specific issue out of a hundred will shed light on the inherent problems associated with these widgets.

Consider the scenario of “Maguire v. Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games” taking place in 2024. The website showcases a set of top athletes on the front page, automatically sourced from respective pages dedicated to each sports category. However, a critical issue arises as the site is not programmed to display ALT attributes. These attributes are essential for explaining what the image represents, and instead, the name of the athlete is embedded directly on the image. Let’s delve into a specific example within the website structure. Imagine there are four top sports categories presented in a grid layout, each featuring a photo of the respective top athlete beneath the category name: Archery, Shooting, Boxing, and Basketball. For instance, let’s assume that Russell Magpie is the top athlete for Archery. Visualise an image capturing this handsome middle-aged man celebrating his victory by throwing his hands in the air, expressing sheer joy.

Consider the implications when a blind individual visits the site. The accessibility widgets attempt to interpret the content using an AI-generated ALT tag for the top Archery athlete, resulting in a description like “A monster-looking Gladiator floating in the air.” This inaccurate portrayal not only fails to convey the athlete’s actual identity, in this case, Russell Magpie, but it also raises ethical concerns. This misrepresentation can be perceived as an assault on the athlete’s image and reputation, and it certainly constitutes a falsehood. Such instances not only pose a legal risk by violating DDA accessibility laws but also raise moral questions regarding the use of technology in this context. It highlights the inadequacy of quick-fix solutions provided by accessibility widgets. In reality, there is no substitute for implementing accessibility measures at the native code level, involving human expertise. The pitfalls of relying on these two-minute setup widgets are evident, as they not only fail to address the core issues but may worsen the situation. For a deeper understanding of these legal intricacies, refer to The Samuel Law Firm’s insights on the matter:

Feel skeptical about Mr. Samuel’s advice? Well, the Center of Accessibility Australia echoes the sentiment: 

It’s crucial to note that widget and overlay providers often offer free website audits for accessibility. However, these audits are specifically tailored to display zero errors when their tool is integrated into a website. Unfortunately, relying solely on these audit reports can be misleading, as scanning the site through other means may reveal numerous accessibility issues that are not accurately reflected in the provider-generated reports. Therefore, it is advised not to solely depend on audit reports generated by these overlay providers for an accurate assessment of a website’s accessibility status. A comprehensive and independent evaluation using diverse accessibility testing methods is essential to ensure a thorough understanding of a site’s accessibility compliance. It’s important to be aware that certain scanning tools are designed to either display non-existing issues or exaggerate existing ones. The intention behind this approach is to alert customers and encourage them to purchase the remediation services offered by the tool provider. This practice raises concerns about the accuracy and transparency of the information provided by such tools.

So, where are the solutions for equal accessibility or reasonable adjustment? Are you feeling a bit lost in space, unsure of which direction to take? Well, that’s precisely where I want you to be right now because being lost is often the first step to being found. By now, you’re aware of the challenges within the accessibility realm, and the specter of trouble looms not too far away.

Fortunately, we’ve reached the final chapter where I present a hybrid solution that is both cost-effective and ethical, aligning with Australian accessibility laws to the best of the ability of a small business or an organization.

4. The Hybrid Solution

NGOs, government subsidiaries, certification bodies, employment agencies, businesses dealing in essential goods and services, and those in the education sector (ranging from academic institutions to early childhood and disability education providers) should pay close attention to what you are about to read. Grab a coffee and get ready to put your brain to work because there is some technical jargon that you may need to process.

Let’s explore how businesses can make their online spaces truly awesome for everyone. Along the way, we’ll dig into the basic methods for minimising legal implications in the most cost-effective manner.

Before going into specifics, it’s important to note that government agencies, both at the federal and state levels, have specific requirements for meeting accessibility standards. The Australian Government Digital Transformation Agency mandates that all government agencies must adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Level 2.1, as outlined on DTA website. Similarly, the Centre for Accessibility Australia emphasises that mainstream organisations are expected to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines at Level AA. (Note: “Must” implies a requirement or obligation, something that is mandatory. On the other hand, “expected” suggests something that is anticipated or considered likely, but not necessarily required).

While each state in Australia has its own set of guidelines for ensuring digital material accessibility, it’s worth highlighting that, as of my last knowledge update, there isn’t a centralised, government-manufactured, freely accessible tool for web accessibility testing specific to Australian regulations. This raises the crucial question: if rules are set, where is the tool for Australian businesses to test their compliance?

Despite this gap, it’s noteworthy that the Australian government actively promotes and supports web accessibility initiatives, offering resources and guidelines to assist organisations in achieving compliance with international standards. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) serve as the international benchmark, with the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) in Australia incorporating them into the Digital Service Standard, requiring government services to meet WCAG 2.1 AA standards.

However, it’s a lamentable reality that none of the six Jurisdictions in Australia has deployed a freely accessible system for detecting and reporting compliance with the guidelines they’ve set forth or adopted. Instead, most Jurisdictions recommend external or privately-owned toolkits for testing accessibility. Take, for instance, the NSW government’s recommendation of Google Lighthouse as one of the options for accessibility testing, as outlined on the “Accessibility Testing” webpage of the official NSW Government website.

Isn’t it fascinating to note that Google’s Lighthouse accessibility scoring system holds significant weight in the digital landscape?

According to Google, Lighthouse’s scoring system is based on axe user impact assessments, which, in turn, rely on WCAG 2 rules. While the terminology might seem technical, clicking on those links provides instant clarity on the subject.

Now, considering that the government endorses Lighthouse as one of the options of the first intuitive to become accessibility compliant, and Google endorses that the Lighthouse is based on axe user impact assessments, and the axe user impact assessments rely on WCAG 2 rules, it seems that complying with Google accessibility test is a cost-effective initiative to prioritise accessibility as your first step towards compliance. While passing Google Page Insights accessibility may not cover all the requirements of WCAG 2.1 Level AA, it can certainly be a crucial starting point.

Scoring high on Google Core Web Vitals Accessibility score is a significant achievement that indicates your website is largely compliant with the technical aspects of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This means that most of the underlying issues related to accessibility have been addressed. However, it’s important to remember that this doesn’t cover all aspects of accessibility. For instance, issues outside the technical scope, such as misleading ALT tags or content complexity that might hinder understanding for individuals with disabilities, are not necessarily reflected in this score.

Achieving a high score on the Google Page Insights accessibility test and earning the coveted green mark can be your pathway to an accessibility-focused future. This test, while not exhaustive, aligns with many WCAG 2.1 Level AA requirements. According to the Bureau of Internet Accessibility (USA), Lighthouse, the technology behind Google Page Insights, compares web content against WCAG, covering numerous Level AA requirements and providing users with a fairly accurate score. This score is a weighted average of all tests Lighthouse performs.

In essence, making an earnest attempt to align with accessibility rules, even if complete WCAG 2.1 Level AA compliance is not achieved, underscores a commitment to the principle of “reasonable accommodation” or “reasonable adjustment.” Dealing with web accessibility can be complicated – there are financial considerations, legal concerns, and other challenges. By being fair and doing your best, you’re less likely to face legal repercussions. This isn’t just about following the law; it’s also about doing the right thing. It aligns not only with legal expectations but also ethical principles.

This is why you’ll often see statements on websites saying, “We aim to comply,” rather than “We comply,” in their accessibility statements. Achieving perfect compliance with all accessibility guidelines can be challenging due to the complexity and breadth of the requirements, as well as the need to accommodate a wide range of disabilities. Therefore, most organizations strive for continuous improvement in accessibility, rather than claiming complete compliance. This approach reflects a commitment to making their websites as accessible as possible, while acknowledging the ongoing nature of this work. So, in addition to aiming for high scores on tools like Google Core Web Vitals, it’s crucial to maintain an ongoing commitment to improving and updating accessibility features. This ensures that your website remains inclusive and user-friendly for all visitors.

Many businesses, especially smaller ones, may have limited resources or funds for web accessibility compliance. The cost of a private WCAG 2.1 accessibility audit and subsequent implementation can be significant. By doing what is needed within your financial means and knowledge, you proactively mitigate risks. It’s a strategy that aligns with legal expectations, and, when approached fairly, keeps you out of trouble.

For example, A small manufacturing business is operating with limited financial resources. Despite these constraints, they actively engage in safety training for employees, implement safety protocols, and regularly update their machinery to meet industry standards. Despite these efforts, a minor workplace incident occurs. In such a case, the business may argue that they’ve taken reasonable steps within their financial means to ensure a safe working environment. The court might consider their proactive safety measures, potentially resulting in a more lenient judgment.

It’s crucial to note that Google Accessibility standards on Lighthouse are exceptionally stringent, and achieving a 99% score is a rarity, with perhaps only 1 in 100,000 websites attaining such a high standard. In my extensive testing, including evaluations of Google’s own pages, government websites, council sites, major retailers, educational institutions, and universities, most fall short of reaching a 80% accessibility score.  Our official website, Living Dreams Web, and those of our clients who received redesign services from August 2023 onwards have achieved a near-100 score. However, many private and government websites encounter significant accessibility challenges. Therefore, it is reasonable to anticipate similar scores for your local council website or major retail business.

Now, let’s bring this into perspective. Whether you are a legal practitioner with a small office and a handful of employees, a private disability support centre, an early childhood education centre, an NGO, or a dental practice, you understand the struggle of making a living and the importance of having a website. In most cases, you don’t have substantial funds to invest in WCAG 2.1 compliance, and yet, not having a website is not an option.

The government and regulatory bodies offer excellent recommendations on digital accessibility compliance, but the practicality of implementation with limited funds and resources is challenging. In the midst of these challenges, trouble might be lurking if you don’t take any action.

The government also encourages users to use Lighthouse as the first initiative testing measure to make a website accessible, as mentioned previously. Furthermore, undertaking efforts to ensure precise ALT tags, reorganizing the structure for meaningful presentation, and other human-developer interventions can elevate your accessibility efforts beyond a mere satisfactory level.

However, there’s more to consider:

Incorporating a commitment clause on your website, just like the example provided below, signifies a noteworthy step towards cultivating a positive and inclusive digital environment.

“We are committed to ensuring the accessibility of our website for everyone, irrespective of their abilities or disabilities. Recognising the significance of inclusivity, we have taken intentional measures to enhance the accessibility of our site by aligning with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

If you are a person with disabilities attempting to access our website, be assured that we have made sincere efforts to meet your expectations. We acknowledge that accessibility is an ongoing journey, and we are dedicated to continuous improvement.

In the rare event that you encounter any difficulties accessing a page or element on our website, or find it challenging to use, we are here to listen and assist you. Your feedback is invaluable to us. Similar to how we encourage all our customers to provide feedback for continual service improvement, we also invite you to share your valuable perspective. Please use the Accessibility-compliant contact form provided [link to the contact from on your website or email address]  to communicate any difficulties you may face, and we will make our best effort to promptly address and rectify them to the best of our abilities.

Thank you for collaborating with us on this shared endeavor to make the web accessible to everyone. Your experience matters, and we are committed to creating a welcoming and user-friendly online space for all.”

Here’s the reality check. This alone may not be sufficient to keep you out of trouble. The key is commitment to accessibility in this evolving digital landscape. When someone contacts you with an issue, you need to act swiftly—acknowledge the complaint, respond, rectify, and fix it.

Do you know why I worded the “commitment clause” the way I have written it” I heard the tunes that sang in the past that resonates in the present.

Remember referring to the case of Gisele Mesnage vs Coles?

As reported in the Sunday Morning Herald on November 5, 2014, Ms. Mesnage stated, “Coles are always saying they are improving the website for their customers. I want the same consideration,” she said.

Well, now it’s time for you to pose similar questions to people with disabilities: How can we enhance our business for you? Perhaps you don’t realize that this question alone can significantly contribute to keeping you out of trouble. This question encapsulates commitment and inclusivity. How many people will likely contact you? Most likely none.

Now, consider this: if you’ve committed to improving accessibility and included that clause, taking a step to make reasonable adjustments by adhering to the Google Lighthouse scoring system, which is based on WCAG rules, is it ethical or morally justifiable for someone to immediately sue you if they find an issue or two? Unlikely. Legal action might only be warranted if you fail to uphold your commitment and ignore reported issues.

Think about it from the court’s perspective. How would they treat a lawsuit filed against you without any prior attempt to contact and resolve issues through communication? Courts might view immediate legal action unfavorably.

Your proactive measures are likely to be viewed positively by the courts, reducing the risk of lawsuits. This approach is fair; you are contributing to making the internet accessible, even though it may not bring you direct financial benefits. It’s a significant step towards creating an inclusive digital landscape.

By taking this approach, you empower the disabled community to voice their concerns and assist businesses, including yours, in making the digital landscape accessible to everyone. This collaborative effort reduces the likelihood of court battles, allowing all parties to participate in the shared adventure of making the internet accessible.

In essence, this approach minimises opportunities for individuals to exploit digital accessibility issues for financial gain. You don’t need to be a lawyer to grasp this; you just need to use your common sense.

It’s important to note that we don’t promise a WCAG 2.1 Level AA compliant website redesign or compliance service. Instead, we commit to creating a website that complies with Google Core Web Vital accessibility standards, covering most WCAG 2.1 Level AA compliance rules at a fraction of the cost you might pay for a so called WCAG 2.1 Level AA compliance website which do not exist.

Moreover, it’s important to understand the value of complying with Google’s Core Web Vital standards. Unlike websites claiming WCAG 2.1 compliance, which may not see increased traffic from users with disabilities, a website optimized for Google’s Core Web Vitals can benefit from improved recognition and ranking by Google’s search algorithms. This means that even if your website does not attract more users with disabilities, the effort invested in optimizing for Core Web Vitals is not wasted. If a user with a disability does visit your site, it will be ready to accommodate them. Therefore, our focus on Google’s Core Web Vitals ensures that your website is inclusive and user-friendly for all visitors, while also enhancing its visibility on Google search.

For those who have recently utilized our website redesign service and obtained a green light for accessibility on Google Page Insights, congratulations! Take a moment to assess the accessibility scores of other websites on Google Page Insights, such as your local council, preferred shopping site, or any third-party service provider you are contemplating integrating into your website. You might be surprised to find that many fall short of the standard you have successfully achieved.

If this article has made your eyeballs pop-out, like in a Mickey Mouse cartoon, we apologize for that sudden revelation. However, if it provided valuable insights, we welcome your comments and encourage you to share it.

Wishing you all a successful and inclusive 2024


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