Your Property Is Accessible, But What About Your Property Website?

By accessibleproperty

April 12, 2021

According to the Census Bureau, nearly 1 in 5 people in the United States has a disability, which equates to 56.7 million people, roughly 19% of the population. When considering the needs of someone with a disability, you usually hear about things such as an accessible property with ramps, living accommodations on the first floor, or a floor plan that’s easy to navigate. Simple enough, right? Well taking things one step further, it’s important to consider that most people commonly search for properties nowadays on the internet, which isn’t always easy for those with a disability to navigate.

Have you ever stopped and wondered how individuals that have visual impairments use the internet? What about those with physical limitations who may not be able to type on a keyboard? What about those who have hearing impairments? The same question should be asked about those with disabilities searching for an accessible property. Your property is accessible, but what about your property website?

What it Means to Have an Accessible Property Website

Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. Property companies should make every effort to try to make their online experience accessible to all users, including those who access the web through various screen readers and other accessibility tools. For example, the Accessible Property Register is a company that promotes accessible residential property for sale and rent, and any property advertised on the website must be accessible to disabled people, including wheelchair users. Recently, fair housing attorneys have discovered that they can target companies for website accessibility issues to try to reach a settlement from property management companies, so companies promoting accessibility must have an accessible website.

So what are attributes that make a website accessible?  Let’s dive in.

A Few Quick Items that Make a Property Website Accessible    

Key items that make a website accessible include adding alt text, keyboard friendly, font sizing, colors and contrast, and form design. These items can come in the form of app plug-ins to your webpage or an experienced web developer that can add the functionality to your website.

  • Alt-Text: Alt text is a very important way of making visual information accessible. According to LCN, alt text is helpful in various situations for people that use screen readers and speech input software, people who utilize speech-enabled websites, and also for mobile users when images can’t be displayed. Alt text will describe the images on your webpage for those who physically aren’t able to see them.
  • Keyboard: Individuals with physical impairments may struggle with using a keyboard or a mouse, so many will resort to accessing the "tab” key or other input devices to access the content. For a user to navigate efficiently around a website, make the sure "tab" route follows the visual order so the progression throughout the website makes sense. Make sure to have a button on each page that will take the user back to the home page, if needed.  If a webpage contains a large amount of content, consider breaking it up with anchor texts so users can navigate to other page sections.
  • Font Size: According to the Accessible Web, most websites use 16px for the main body text. However, those with visual impairments or low vision may need enlarged font sizes. Offering different font sizes is beneficial to the user audience, and ensuring that the “Call to Action” buttons are large enough for those to see will only make your website stand out more.
  • Colors and Contrast: Along with font sizes, colors and contrasts should be easy on everyone’s eyes. According to W3, colors must have sufficient contrast between text color and its background, formally called luminosity contrast ratio, the most popular being black text amongst a white background.
  • Form Design: No webpage is the same when it comes to font, colors, layout, and design. Depending on the content, the design may be simple or complex. One question to always ask is, “How accessible is this webpage for every user?” If a user with a disability enters your website and the layout is difficult and there is a lack of appropriate labeling, chances are this will form a barrier and you will lose the customer. This also applies to form design. A few useful tips that will make your form design exceptional: make sure all field labels are properly outlined and easy to navigate, make sure any button that will navigate a user throughout a form is clear and concise when it comes to interpretation, and make sure instruction is short and easy to follow.

For a more extensive list of how to create an accessible website, visit here.

How the Operations and Price Gaps Make Website Accessibility Challenging

The points above are important in making a website accessible, but it isn’t always as easy as it may seem. It’s important to consider both the operations gap and the price gap when it comes to website accessibility.

The short of it is this: As your website is constantly being updated with new properties, keeping the website accessible will be an ongoing task (and an expensive one at that). Designing your website to be accessible using the traditional methods such as app plug-ins, web developers, or only installing certain applications one at a time can reach tens of thousands of dollars. Companies typically rely on marketing companies or their website partners to handle anything web-related, including accessibility. The downfall here is that while marketing teams can typically add the alt text to their images, call to action buttons, or different font sizes and contrasts, you need to completely overhaul the ins and outs of a website to ensure that it is accessible automatically, without all of this manual work that could cause you to miss property pages as you grow. This is a big deal because this might lead companies to accessibility lawsuits.

While companies may think they are doing the right things, they may be causing harm in the long run by depending on the wrong individuals to handle such a heavy lift. Therefore, companies need to be proactive in making the necessary investments to make their online presence ADA-complaint (Americans with Disabilities Act) and truly accessible.

How to Ensure Your Property Website is Always Accessible

We recommend investing in an automated solution such as accessiBe, which is the #1 automated web accessibility solution that is certified ADA & WCAG compliant and is fully automatic, using machine learning and computer vision technologies. Not only that, but they use contextual understanding and image recognition to scan and analyze the functionality of every element on your website and adjust it for screen reader accessibility. From protecting ~126,000 businesses including Land Rover, Billabong, Benadryl, Oreo, and Abbott to name a few.

The Takeaway Automation keeps the stress levels down when ensuring that your website is completely accessible, so kiss those potential lawsuits goodbye. When you create a website, you are creating a page for a purpose. In this case, you are promoting your accessible property, so your website should be fully accessible to all. In order for customers to return to your site and refer others to look for accessible property, follow the tips and advice in this article and continue with what you do best: helping those with impairments find an accessible environment to live in.