Retailers and restaurants nationwide are taking notice of the new attention — and lawsuits — surrounding gift cards, and specifically whether they violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when they don't include Braille. As businesses prepare strategies for how to make those public accommodations accessible, they should stay mindful that gift cards that are bought and used electronically (eGift cards) have to be accessible to people with disabilities, too.
Failure to make the full offerings of websites and apps independently usable for people with disabilities, and compatible with assistive technology like screen readers, presents major business, legal, and opportunity risk. Electronic gift cards, if available to the public, would certainly be considered public accommodations and therefore should be built or fixed to be accessible.
Related: Why Does Web Accessibility Matter for Retail Businesses?
What eGift card accessibility means
In order for an electronic gift card to be accessible, people with disabilities must be able to purchase, send, or use it.
All of the form fields, all of the colors, all of the images, and all else the customer might input or read to buy, send, or use the gift card need to accessible.
New to digital accessibility? Check out an introduction to digital accessibility, basics every designer should know, and our blog to get up-to-speed.
How eGift cards can be made accessible
WCAG provides proven path to accessibility
We believe the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 provide the best framework for achieving accessibility compliance. WCAG is organized by four main principles, which say that content must be Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust (POUR).
- Perceivable: For content and user interface elements to be perceivable, they must be built in a way that doesn’t depend on one sense, such as sight or hearing. Content also needs to be adaptable and distinguishable.
- Operable: All interface components and navigation must be able to be reached and operated — and not just with a mouse. Among other things, this means everything must be keyboard-accessible, people need to have enough time to complete tasks, navigation needs to be carefully cared for so people know both where they are on a site and how to find where they want to go, and there is no content that is built in a way known to cause seizures (like flashing content).
- Understandable: Content needs to be understandable both by the users and any assistive technologies they might use, such as screen readers. To achieve understandability, content and interface elements must readable, predictable, and built in a way that helps users avoid and correct any input mistakes.
- Robust: WCAG teaches that “content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted by a wide range of user agents, including assistive technologies.” As technologies and user agents evolve, content has to remain accessible. Clean and complete coding goes a long way toward achieving robustness.
But how do we actually test websites and apps for the accessibility barriers people with certain disability types may come across?
- Accessibility testing for people with visual disabilities
- Accessibility testing for people with auditory disabilities
- Accessibility testing for people with cognitive, learning, and neurological disabilities
- Accessibility testing for people with physical disabilities
- Accessibility testing for people with speech disabilities
Don't forget the website and the rest of the experience
As businesses work to improve the accessibility of electronic gift cards, it will be critical they don't overlook the website that houses the gift cards and the overall customer experience. If the larger website isn't accessible, it may not matter much if the gift cards are accessible. Or, if the website is accessible but the emails that allow someone to send, receive, or use gift cards aren't accessible, the process will have broken and the result will be that the experience isn't accessible and the gifts are ultimately rendered not usable.
This is why custom use case testing should be part of a thorough accessibility testing strategy.
Industry-focused audits, ongoing support
We offer industry-focused accessibility audits and can help your organization create an accessibility compliance strategy that works for you. The consultation is free and confidential. Contact us now to begin.