Are Shopify websites ADA compliant?

Shopify is one of the world’s most popular e-commerce platforms. It allows anyone, including those who don’t consider themselves tech-savvy to set up an online shop quickly and easily. 

Overall, Shopify is a solid platform. However, not every website that runs on it would pass a website accessibility audit. And if your Shopify website is non-ADA compliant, you could be the target of an expensive and stressful lawsuit.

Keep reading to find out more about ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance and how to make sure your Shopify website is accessible to everyone.

Are Shopify Websites ADA Compliant?

First, let’s define ADA compliance. If you have a website for your store, you’ve likely heard of it. In a nutshell, ADA compliance means your website must provide disabled users with the same access non-disabled users enjoy.

There are no specific laws governing website ADA compliance, which causes some confusion. Yet the courts have sent a clear signal that they believe all Americans should enjoy equal access online. In case after case, they have consistently ruled in favor of disabled plaintiffs.

There are several harmful misconceptions surrounding website ADA compliance:

  • Online stores without physical stores don’t have to be ADA compliant – False. Plenty of websites that didn’t have physical stores have been successfully sued for non-compliance.
  • Sole proprietors don’t have to worry about ADA compliance – Also false. The size of your company or store doesn’t matter. Your website can represent just you, you and a partner, or you and hundreds of employees. No matter how your business is structured, your website must be ADA compliant.
  • Automated auditing tools will fix my compliance issues – This may be one of the most harmful myths. Automated auditing tools are not a magic pill for fixing compliance issues. 

Anyone with a Shopify website can be hit with a lawsuit for non-compliance.

There may not be any laws, but there is a set of standards for website ADA compliance. To conform to ADA standards, your Shopify website must adhere to all Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0 ) Levels A and AA.

At a basic level, most Shopify templates are a solid foundation for building an accessible website. Problems arise when Shopify website owners and designers unknowingly add a variety of templates, plug-ins, and other elements that aren’t compliant. 

What To Look Out For

These are the most common non-compliant issues found on Shopify websites. 

  • Color contrast –WCAG 2.0 guidelines require specific ratios for the color contrast between the foreground text and background color on a website. If your website does not adhere to these ratios, users with limited vision or who are colorblind can’t access your website.
  • Adaptive technology – Not everyone who visits your Shopify website uses a mouse. Those who can’t move their arms or are vision impaired use adaptive technology to navigate a page. For example, some may use eye-tracking technology to navigate your site instead of a mouse. Your website must account for these users.
  • Header tags – Screen readers will recite the layout of a page to a visually impaired user. If you don’t have any header tags, or they’ve been added incorrectly, these users can’t make out what’s on your website.
  • Skip links – Some disabled users have their keyboards configured to act as a mouse. They use the tab button to go between links on a page and to easily skip repeated information. Without skip links, navigating your site may be impossible or difficult.

Be aware, this is not a comprehensive list of all elements that could be non-compliant on your Shopify website. There are plenty more.

Auditing Your Shopify Website

Some companies may promise quick and inexpensive ADA compliance through the use of automated auditing tools. This is a prime example of the adage, too good to be true. At best, automated tools can detect about 30% of non-compliant issues on a website. That’s not good enough. 

ADA website compliance must be 100%, no exceptions.

The only way to find and correct all non-compliant elements on your Shopify website is by running a manual website accessibility audit. For Shopify, this includes the checkout process and client account areas.

There’s no getting around that this will take time, but it is the only way to ensure ADA compliance.

Once all issues are remediated, you’ll be able to rest easier knowing your Shopify website is now fully ADA compliant. Not only will you not have to worry about any lawsuits, but you’ll also provide equal access to over 40 million potential new customers. 

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