Is Your Website ADA Compliant?

 

We live in a time of inclusivity, where businesses and individuals are taking important and necessary measures to ensure that the company’s operations, staff, and cultures are inclusive of all people, regardless of race, religion, orientation, ability, or country of origin.  Today, website accessibility is more important than ever thanks to the rise in mobile devices, iPads, and generally everyone everywhere constantly in a state of “connectedness.”

At Sokos Social, many of our Agency Clients are asking us what might seem to be a simple question: “Is my website ADA compliant?” While we are marketers, not attorneys, the Sokos Social team conducted our own research on behalf of our clients, and we hope this post can provide some context to the situation and clarity on what you need to know.

There has been a tremendous increase in lawsuits regarding website ADA Compliance, with municipalities in our local area like Manatee County and the City of Bradenton Beach sued successfully over web accessibility.  Despite that the targets of most lawsuits currently are municipalities and big businesses, there is cause for concern on behalf of small business owners and non-profit organizations, as well. Over 27 ADA lawsuits are filed on average each and every day. Not every suit is legally in violation of ADA laws but, of course, this does not stop one from filing. 

Part of the reason we at Sokos Social have seen an increase in client inquiries about ADA compliance is that other local Marketing and Web Design firms have resorted to “ambulance chasing” techniques most commonly used by attorneys, sending letters and communications warning them to potential fines and litigation.  They join law firms in targeting what they feel are “low hanging fruit,” specifically smaller businesses, governments, and non-profit organizations, who they know rely on small teams, smaller budgets, and time constraints with the hope they will just “pay up.”

A basic test that we advise our clients to consider is this: if you have a publicly accessible office, store, or venue where you must meet accessibility requirements for public access to your establishment, it’s a best practice to take measures ensuring your “digital” presence is ADA accessible as well. 

What Does Website Accessibility Mean?

Spoken in the most basic terms, you should ensure that your website can be accessed by anyone, regardless of disability.  

What this means to you: the vision-impaired must be able to use an audio translator, so all of your written content needs to be spelled out and logical. These users could also be dependent on screen reading software. All media (think videos, pictures, audio clips, etc) would need to have tag descriptions that are logical. An easy example: when you download a picture of your team members at the office from Facebook, the file name may read something like this: 96003482i478337.jpg.   It’s common for even the best web developers, marketing associates, and employees to just upload that picture to your website. In order to be ADA compliant, that picture needs to both be re-named and the image description updated to be understood by anyone. 

 

Think if you were not able to see: how would you know what that image was depicting? The ADA-compliant way to handle would be to name the file “Team-Members-at-Office.jpg” and add a description stating “members of our team working at the office” so that screen readers can read aloud the description of the image to someone visually impaired.

What can you do to be compliant?

At Sokos Social, we’ve researched the best ways and most cost-effective ways to keep up with changing ADA regulations. It is in your company’s best interest to consider this investment an insurance policy against potential risk and litigation – but more importantly – it is also enabling you to reach and serve a growing percentage of the population (and your potential customers) who arer disabled or impaired. Through a new our partnership with AccessiBe, for one low annual fee we can configure your site with AccessiBe.  

AccessiBe utilizes Automatic AI (Artificial Intelligence) for Web Accessibility & Compliance with WCAG 2.1 AA Level and US Section 508, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and European Union Standard EN 301549.  Audits are performed automatically and provide over 96% AI-powered remediation. The remaining 4% are reported during daily automated compliance monitoring scans and will be remediated manually by your Sokos Social Team.  The only exception to our automated solution is PDFs, documents, and video subtitles, which are priced separately. This is simply because the assets listed are added files, which are not a part of your website’s codebase. 

Please note: AccessiBe will not change a thing for the majority of users. It will only be activated when turned on via the interface (or a Screen-reader if the user is blind), as an overlay to your website, and only to the user’s specific session. Therefore, AccessiBe won’t affect your design, user interface, or site performance at all. The entire process is automated, from remediation to becoming compliant. Additionally, AccessiBe doesn’t collect user data, so it doesn’t affect your GDPR compliance. 

The annual cost to Sokos Social Agency Clients is $750, with an additional $49 set-up fee for the first year.  Non-Agency Clients who have had a website designed by Sokos Social within the last 2 years are offered the same rate.

Interested in learning more?  Let your Client Success Manager know you’d like to proceed with ADA Compliance Installation or drop us a note at Hello@SokosSocial.com.

Our Clients Feel Like Family

It’s safe to say that the work that our team does day-in and day-out would not reach such a high level of quality if we lacked passion for what we do. Sokos Social specializes in meeting the marketing needs of clients in three main sectors: financial, hospitality and nonprofit organizations. Our team loves bringing vibrant, upbeat energy to the workplace every day. But what really motivates us is watching our clients grow their businesses thanks to their work ethic and passion for their mission.

Many of our clients are entrepreneurs who have cultivated their dream into reality. Some clients are nonprofits whose work is close to our hearts. Nonprofit organizations create a vision of how the world should be, and then get to work implementing it! Experiencing first hand their commitment to such important causes inspires us every day to become better, both in and out of the office.

When our businesses and organizations select Sokos Social as their partner in brand development and marketing we understand the tremendous amount of trust they place in us: their dream, livelihood, and vision for their business. These responsibilities motivate us to establish the best working relationship possible. Our values of working closely with clients are fundamental to a successful working relationship. And as Sokos Social grows and expands as a business, we know that individual human relationships have the most impact on delivering results and exceeding expectations. These personal relationships also lead to our own increased business development – the statistic our CEO, Eleni Sokos, takes most pride in is that 97% of our clients were referred by a friend or colleague.

Each staff member at Sokos Social can identify with a client. From the moment of client on-boarding, to recapping the end of a successful campaign, our team works one-on-one with our clients to ensure their goals are met, allowing us to develop a personal relationship with our beloved clients.

For example, our Client Success Specialist Kendall Lewis loves working with Anna Maria Oyster Bar. Kendall is new to Florida and enjoys the Gulf Coast, old Florida, fun-loving feel that the Anna Maria Oyster Bar brand exemplifies…margaritas included! When she works on Anna Maria Oyster Bar projects, she is invested in the work because she genuinely enjoys the brand. Working with this client helps her feel closer to the community as a new resident. We are thankful for the relationship that each of us have with Anna Maria Oyster Bar. We truly feel like an extension of their staff and more importantly, part of the Anna Maria Oyster Bar Family. Whether it’s joining them on a trip to the annual Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Marketing + Operations Summit or having fun at one of their many events throughout the year.

“It makes coming to work easy knowing that we are making a difference,” remarks Marketing Coordinator, Dylan Howell, about working with our nonprofit organizations. Dylan actually found Sokos Social after volunteering for the Women’s Resource Center. Her passion for helping women who need it the most translates into a true desire to support the missions of for our nonprofit clients like The Women’s Resource Center, HOPE Family Services, Foundation For Dreams, and more.

Our very own Chief Executive Socializer, Eleni Sokos has lived in Manatee County her entire life. She is a foodie who has a passion for travel and creating immersive experiences, whether in person or online. Growing up in a family of restaurateurs and other small business owners, she sees her family’s hustle, resourcefulness, and community spirit in each of our clients.

There are a million reasons to love your job, but at Sokos Social we find new reasons every day. Watching the growth of our business comes from the amazing clients who inspire us every day.

Female Leadership Survey

Attracting and retaining talent to the Bradenton-Sarasota area is a top priority of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation, an organization which Sokos Social supports as an Investor-Partner.  Eleni is the Events Committee Co-Chair and a Board Member of this organization which builds brands through creative storytelling in the digital age.

Caitlyn Haley, community relations coordinator at Firkins Nissan, Manatee Young Professionals Leadership Committee member, MBA student at USF, and friend of Sokos Social, created the following survey as a research project for her MBA. There is especially a dearth of females in leadership roles, and in particular, leadership roles that are accessible and available to women.  We wanted to share Eleni’s submissions to the survey as insight into the talent attraction and retention crisis that our region is currently facing. Caitlyn graciously shared all of the survey responses with us, and we’ll share some insightful responses anonymously below.

Q: Are you involved in any non-profit boards, volunteer groups, community advocacy, or business networking groups? (List up to five)

ES:

  • Manatee Chamber of Commerce’s Manatee Young Professionals, Leadership Committee, Networking Chair
  • Leadership Manatee Alumni Association
  • South Florida Museum, Marketing Committee
  • Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation, Events Committee Co-Chair and Board of Directors
  • Manatee Seminole Club, Board of Directors

Q: What made you originally decide to live and work in this area?

ES: After college, I wasn’t entirely sure which field to pursue despite having a number of interests, but I fell into a great opportunity and built a career out of it, including eventually growing my freelance enterprise into a company that employs 6 people, grew 125% in 2018, and is on track to continue that growth by a slightly more manageable 60% in 2019.

ANON:  Weather, people & water!

Q: What positive things has this area brought to your business?

ES: The local business network, especially in the Manatee-Sarasota area, is incredibly strong and supportive.  Our marketing & sales efforts have relied nearly 100% on referral/word of mouth, which is the most valuable marketing tool.

ANON: Where do I begin…this area has provided so much! A sense of community, collaboration, a thriving population of young professionals. An active chamber of commerce which has made such a difference in my business. The networking opportunities and volunteer opportunities in our area are wonderful allowing me to give back, help, educate and improve my business.

Q: List one challenge that your business has gone through from being located in this area

ES: The talent pool of college graduates looking for a job in their senior year/upon graduation is extremely small.  And companies like ours have a tough time competing against larger players with better compensation packages, despite more hands-on learning experience and better work culture.

Q: What would you currently say is your biggest achievement from working within this company or the local community?

ANON: Working with the community has helped me achieve building relationships with people who are different from me.

ES: Our clients’ successes are our greatest achievements.  We had four clients win major local AND national awards in 2018, and each attributed some portion of their success to our marketing plans.

There are so many reasons to love the Tampa Bay area and Manatee County. Sokos Social, as well as our fearless leader Eleni Sokos, is committed to contributing to the growth of Manatee County. We love our home and are blessed to be a part of amazing networking circles, nonprofit and charity resource development, and our clients’ success.