Supermarket shopping, banking, switching energy supplier, booking a restaurant table, ordering pizza, choosing a holiday destination. The Internet has transformed our lives by making these everyday actions easy to complete, online, from any device. Yet up to 15 million people in the UK alone face digital accessibility issues when they use websites from many leading commercial or public-sector organisations. Globally it is becoming an expensive problem for website owners to deal with.
During 2018 in the US, over 5,000 lawsuits were filed against companies of all sizes for non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). European companies are also being targeted, as evident in the case brought against Scandinavian Airlines for ADA non-compliance. Most recently, Domino’s Pizza was found guilty of not making its website app accessible for blind people.  In a landmark ruling, the company was forced to make adjustments to improve its user experience for the visually impaired.
AAAtraq, a new UK start-up, wants to reverse these trends, by giving website owners a low cost, fast track route to protecting their organisations from the risks of legal action with an easy-to-use managed service. According to Lawrence Shaw, AAAtraq’s founder and CEO, many of the world’s leading brands have websites that fail basic accessibility compliance checks. He explains:
“Poor accessibility compliance is one of the fastest growing problems for website owners, who are increasingly at risk of legal action and also face lost revenues from consumers. The value of the so-called ‘purple pound’ in the UK – particularly from consumers who are visually impaired, suffer hearing loss or limited mobility – is estimated to be around £249bn.
“Although much of the legal action for non-compliance currently originates from the US, EU legislation equivalent to the ADA already exists. It is only a matter of time before the same ‘litigation culture’ begins to affect UK-based companies who fail to make their websites accessible to all. It’s similar to the rapid rise in employment tribunals we saw previously in the UK, only now the stakes are much higher.”
As a compliance identification and management service, AAAtraq assesses current levels of risk, provides guidance to demonstrate reasonable adjustment and enables ongoing certification. The managed service simplifies compliance reporting with a free initial summary ‘health check’ that can be performed immediately online by any organisation. Following this, a detailed risk report helps organisations to precisely identify their level of risk and locate areas for improvement within individual pages or content; this report is available for US $47.
For a monthly subscription of US $97, organisations can have access to AAAtraq’s full managed service, which offers a 6 step, automated approach to achieving ongoing compliance. This includes: a guided methodology and full digital supplier management; AI-based training and education for developers and content producers, to ensure they understand their responsibilities; benchmarking and KPIs to measure improvements; plus a live ‘accessibility rating’ badge, based on AAAtraq’s Five Star certification system. This live certification badge can be displayed on any website, to indicate an organisation’s ongoing commitment to achieving full accessibility.
An inherent part of the non-compliance problem, according to Lawrence Shaw, is that accessibility legislation has become overly complicated.
“Organisations are not deliberately non-compliant, but the level of misinformation in circulation coupled with a succession of successful legal cases in the US, has created the perfect storm.”
This is because of three factors: opportunistic lawyers seeking financial rewards, digital suppliers who are not being held accountable by their clients and end user organisations who are too reliant on third party suppliers, and who are unsure of what is legally required to demonstrate ‘reasonable adjustment’.
“Digital inaccessibility lawsuits are one of the fastest growing financial risks for organisations who are literally ‘burying their heads in the sand’ because they don’t understand the accessibility legislation, and mistakenly believe it is both difficult and expensive to comply,” says Lawrence Shaw.
Who is AAAtraq designed for?
- End user organisations. To help management and digital teams monitor digital suppliers, understand their level of risk and demonstrate reasonable adjustment;
- Digital agencies. To enable them to deliver fully accessible websites for clients and manage compliance on an ongoing basis;
- Legal professionals. To enable them to automate compliance measurement and report mandated improvements on behalf of clients;
- Industry Regulator(s). To provide an independent benchmarking and monitoring service.
For more information visit www.AAAtraq.com