Visually Accessible Websites Aid ADA Compliance

July 31, 2020

This week marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and you play an important role in bringing its benefits to all buyers and sellers. With most home searches beginning online, you have a duty as a real estate agent and broker to ensure your website is accessible to all.

One big piece of that is readability. About 8% of the population needs web browsers’ accessibility setting, according to research cited by Eric Stegemann, CEO of Tribus, a custom brokerage platform vendor.

Stegemann, who once served as chair of the business issues committee for the National Association of REALTORS®, explained, “The reason why accessibility isn’t just about what you consider blind people or handicapped is that it can also be your grandma or grandpa,” in a recent Q&A about accessibility in real estate on HousingWire. “They can’t easily read small text on a website. What it comes down to is that you need to make sure your website is working for all of these different folks because you’re essentially turning off close to 10% of your potential business if you don’t.

“If I’m a broker, I should go educate myself on what it means to be accessible,” Stegemann told HousingWire. “When it comes to the sizing of text, the most simple item, the feature that’s there has been in browsers for a very long time, but it is used all the time by a good chunk of the population to make reading websites easier.”

Make sure that when visitors arrive at your site and increase the text size that the text then doesn’t enlarge off the page—a common problem Stegemann sees.

Ensure compatibility with the accessibility features across a variety of web browsers. For instance, Stegemann points to Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. “They all use different ways of making your website load,” he told HousingWire. “Accessibility should be thought of in the same way, as it’s a constantly moving target. You need to review it on a regular basis and do an audit of your website on a regular basis. Really, the first step is either you know your in-house tech people or your vendor [and] you should be asking them to do an audit of the website.”

NAR has resources to assist real estate professionals with ADA website compliance. NAR recommends including an accessibility statement like this one on a website along with contact information where individuals with disabilities may report difficulty accessing the website and seek additional assistance accessing information or services.