More and more people are conducting their shopping online. For this reason, eCommerce businesses should make sure that as many people as possible can use their websites without much strain. This does not simply mean simplifying navigation or streamlining the checkout process. This extends to designing the website with the needs of disabled people in mind. In this article, we explore the ways in which eCommerce store owners can use 3dcart’s features to improve their eCommerce site’s accessibility.
Is Your 3dcart Store Accessible?
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) defines web accessibility as a virtue by which “websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them.” Many internet users have one or more types of disabilities that may affect their ability to access certain websites. W3C specifically mentions auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual disabilities, as well as those that are temporary, situational, technological in nature, and part of the aging process.
All of them have the same reasons to use the internet as able-bodied people, including work, shopping, education, communication, relaxation, and commerce. However, they may encounter distinct challenges that can make using certain websites difficult, if not largely impossible. Organizations and initiatives, like W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), seek to amplify the voices of people with disabilities and provide resources for website owners to better meet their needs. Anyone can make a difference and be part of this effort by listening, learning, and applying their understanding to their site design. All you need to join in is basic empathy, a little of your time, some new knowledge, a little training, and the right tools.
That is where 3dcart can come into the equation. Our platform enables users to extensively customize their shopping sites so that all potential audiences can have their needs met. This means they can design their site in ways that enable visitors with disabilities to navigate and engage with it. All business owners should make accessibility a priority because it is socially responsible and can increase the number of visitors to your site. Additionally, failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may result in legal action against your business. All this is why 3dcart offers a number of ecommerce website themes to assist users with accessibility-oriented web design.
Core ADA Compliant Template
One simple metric by which you can measure your website’s accessibility is checking if it complies with the standards of the ADA. W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 provide extensive advice on how you can create your website while keeping in mind the needs of people with disabilities. WCAG grades websites on three different levels, and anything that does not meet the minimum, Level A, would not be considered accessible enough to comply with the ADA’s online accommodation requirements.
As part of our own commitment to promote accessibility on our customers’ websites, 3dcart created a standard site format with accessibility as a priority, and we provide it to all our customers for free. The Core ADA Compliant template is designed so that any website that uses it will immediately meet WCAG’s Level A requirements. You could save significant time and effort by downloading this template from your admin panel and applying it to your website. From there, you can also customize and optimize it further until you reach the coveted Level AAA, the highest one for WCAG.
Alternatives to Mouse Control
3dcart’s software is flexible and customizable enough that you can use many different means to improve your visitors’ ability to use your eCommerce website. There are plenty of methods for increasing accessibility that you can do on your own. One important tool in your kit is the ability to offer different means for control over your website.
Mouse control may seem like the standard form of interacting with a computer, but it can be highly inconvenient for people with certain disabilities. You should make sure that your website is compatible with various forms of control other than those involving a mouse. Keyboard control is essential, and it must be available if you hope to make your website ADA compliant. You should also check for compatibility with other assistive technology, such as voice control.
Editing and Optimizing Content for Screen Readers
Your content and copy — product descriptions, prices, checkout information, blogs — may present much-needed information. However, not everyone who visits your site can obtain that information and engage with your words by staring at the screen. People with disabilities may need assistive technology when using the internet, and you should make sure that your website can be understood with these tools.
Screen readers are a vital resource for many people with many different disabilities. This software essentially reads aloud the words on the screen. In addition to making sure that your website allows screen readers to work with your words, you must also make sure they can read your images as well. 3dcart enables you to do this by adding descriptions of the graphics in their alt text.
Interested in creating a disabled-friendly online store?
Get started with 3dcart’s eCommerce website-building software and gain access to our highly-customizable site themes and all of our resources for improving accessibility. We strive to give our customers all the tools and all the control over their software they need, so anyone can easily make a website that is accessible to everyone.