Almost all businesses are required by law to be equal opportunity employers. However, even if a company does not discriminate during hiring or employment, is it really an equal opportunity employer if people with disabilities can’t apply?
The Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology asked people with disabilities about their experiences applying for jobs online. Forty-six percent of respondents said the last experience they had applying to a job online was difficult or impossible.
As it turns out, many users with disabilities are forced to drop out of the application process because online applications are inaccessible. That means businesses with inaccessible web applications experience both decreased applicant numbers and a threat to their ADA and EEO compliance.
Breaking Down Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0)
WCAG 2.0, published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), is the gold standard for web accessibility and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It outlines the necessary measures to make websites accessible to a wide range of users with different abilities.
ADA compliance lawsuits are on the rise, and website complaints are some of those most commonly filed.
WCAG states that websites must be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. Failure to address any of these four pillars of accessibility can result in noncompliance and lawsuits.
WCAG and Job Applications
Let’s take a look at each of WCAG’s four pillars and consider how they might affect job applications on a website.
- Perceivable: This guideline ensures users can see, hear or otherwise perceive and process web content.
All content on job applications should include measures to ensure applicants can perceive them. Application instructions, for example, should be compatible with screen readers, and videos should be captioned. Additionally, One of the most common perceptibility issues reported on job applications is the lack of sufficient color contrasting.
2. Operable: Users should be able to operate web content as intended.
Even if users can perceive content, they need to be able to interact with it appropriately to submit a quality application.
One of the most common complaints is that applications do not allow users to navigate questionnaires with a keyboard rather than a mouse. Another complaint? Application signatures that require a mouse. Imagine getting all the way through an application just to be barred from submission because it does not allow you to sign. Aside from the frustration, it doesn’t give off a good impression of the employer.
3. Understandable: Users should be able to understand web content.
Most web content requires alternative methods of interpretation to ensure users can understand it. For example, images and graphs that convey meaning should have alternative text to ensure all users understand their message. This is one of the most common issues with online applications.
Further, merely implementing the bare minimum of web accessibility isn’t always enough; accessibility functionality needs to make sense. When using a keyboard selector, for instance, users shouldn’t be forced to jump unpredictably around a page; rather, the selector should move from item to item in a logical order. Similarly, input fields should state accepted formats, instructions should be clear and input errors should be descriptive, so users understand how to rectify them.
4. Robust: Web content should be accessible to a wide range of users with different disabilities.
Web applications should be compatible with different screen readers, input methods and other assistive technologies to ensure they cater to a wide range of individuals. Further, companies should provide multiple easy and accessible options for submitting feedback or requesting accessibility assistance on applications in case they do not meet an applicant’s needs.
Better Clout for Your Brand
If your online application is significantly difficult or impossible for someone with a disability to complete, they’re not likely to be very excited to work for your company. If your job application isn’t accessible, they might assume your company’s policy and position requirements may not provide the accommodations they’ll need.
Further, commitment to inclusion and accessibility is a win for employers when recruiting users of all abilities. About 75 percent of people prefer to work for a socially responsible company – and that percentage jumps to 88 for millennials. Demonstrating that your company is committed to equality for people of all abilities could be the social-good motivator that drives applicants to choose your company over another.
Achieving ADA Website Compliance
While ADA website compliance is vital, many companies often put it on the back burner due to the overwhelming question: “where to begin?”
While WCAG outlines many moving parts required to become ADA-compliant, we’ve got an easier way for businesses to ensure their websites and job applications are accessible.
User1st specializes in establishing quick compliance and monitoring it over time to ensure ongoing accessibility. We’ve worked with both websites and career portals to help companies secure compliance across the board.
The first step to web compliance is finding out where you stand. Use our free automated web accessibility checker to find out where your website is compliant and where it isn’t. It only takes a few minutes.