WCAG 2.1 AA and ADA Compliance and Certification for Auto Dealerships
Why Web Accessibility Matters for Auto Dealerships
For dealerships, being ADA and WCAG 2.1 AA is not only a legal requirement—it makes good business sense. If you are looking to protect your dealership from litigation, you are not alone. Digital accessibility is a real thing and lawsuits are on the rise. Predatory lawyers tend to go after businesses with cash flow, and dealerships are often perceived as an easy target.
Beyond the legal considerations, there is a strong argument that making your website WCAG 2.1 AA compliant is just good business. With approximately 15% of the U.S. population relying on alternative ways to access the web, compliance with these standards means you can attract a substantial audience of buyers who might otherwise not have considered your dealership.
Achieving compliance is not about placing a certificate or badge on your wall; it is making a commitment to ensuring your website is accessible to everyone. Committing to this standard not only makes good business sense but is the only reliable way to protect yourself against litigation.
What Is Web Accessibility for Auto Dealerships?
Digital accessibility was not specifically written for auto dealerships but has become increasingly important over the last few years. Digital accessibility is actually a set of standards that has been organized by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) and is known as WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). These standards cover nine common themes:
- Color contrast
- Providing descriptive labels
- Alt text for links and images
- Making information in tables accessible and easy to read
- Navigation of your site via keyboard only
- Indicating the focus for the user on the screen (pointers and lines)
- Size of fonts
- Headings and labels
- Captions for video and audio content
Who Are Dealerships Helping?
Many dealerships are surprised to learn just how important digital accessibility is in today’s increasingly online society. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are currently over 60 million Americans living with disabilities. The individuals the WCAG 2.1 AA regulations are designed to help include:
- The visually impaired
- Persons with physical disabilities
- Persons with auditory disabilities
- Persons with cognitive and learning disabilities
- Persons with epilepsy
- The elderly
How Does Your Dealership Become Compliant?
There are a number of approaches to becoming compliant, but whichever approach you take, the process can be time-consuming, expensive, and tedious. Many dealerships will run a scan on their website and then get a programmer to fix each error manually. Depending on the size of your site, the process can take a couple of months or as long as a year.
In the world of an auto dealership, that is a really long time. Just think of the number of new and used vehicles that you have added to your site and then sold and removed. The process is an ongoing one, so an automated approach is needed. This is where AI (artificial intelligence) comes in. Because AI can automatically remedy many of the errors, the time it takes to fix issues is much shorter, costs are reduced, and you remain compliant.
Choosing a Manual, Automated, or Hybrid Solution
Automotive Industry Compliance Lawsuits
In May 2019, AutoNation, a new and pre-owned vehicle provider, was slapped with a lawsuit encompassing about 50 of its dealerships in Florida. According to AutoNews.com, the suit was filed by a visually impaired site visitor who was not able to use the AutoNation’s website due to its incompatibility with the plaintiff’s screen-reading software.
The AutoNation case was settled in June for a “nominal fee” to cover court costs and with a commitment to improving the website’s accessibility. “AutoNation is working to implement software solutions and other measures to enhance website accessibility in collaboration with our business partners,” CMO Marc Cannon said. “Our efforts in this regard are ongoing.”
As the AutoNews.com article notes, dealerships that receive a demand letter from an attorney representing a client with an accessibility complaint will often settle before a lawsuit is filed. Since these settlements are not a matter of public record, they may be more numerous and more costly than most industry professionals suspect.