Imagine your life without access to the Internet, especially if you are not able to leave your home. How would you access information and basic needs like food, clothing, financial services and entertainment? About 20% of the population experiences challenges accessing the internet because of one or more of a variety of disabilities and the lack of website accessibility.
We have all heard about businesses with physical locations needing to make adjustments to accommodate disabled patrons, but what about online destinations? As our economy shifts to conducting business online, it is more important than ever to make websites accessible. Business owners face the risk of unnecessary lawsuits, fines and penalties, which can be avoided quite easily with minor modifications to websites. Making your website accessible will help you reach and serve more clients, generate higher satisfaction, community goodwill and business growth.
So who is filing ADA compliance lawsuits?
Associations and organizations for people with disabilities and law firms are teaming up to form class action lawsuits against large organizations and companies, like Harvard, Netflix, Uber, Chipotle, Domino’s and even musicians like Beyonce. These lawsuits generally cite Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. They are targeting companies with online accessibility barriers to make it easier for disabled people to access the internet. As more companies are conducting business online, the pace is accelerating – one federal-funded accessibility lawsuit is filed per hour! (UsableNet’s 2019 ADA Website and App Accessibility Lawsuit Report)
What types of changes are necessary to achieve Web Accessibility for disabled customers?
Getting and staying compliant can keep your business running smoothly, attracting new, valuable, grateful customers. It can also keep you out of the courtroom, avoiding fines, penalties and legal fees! The landscape and standards for website accessibility are constantly changing, and require a deep understanding of a wide range of disabilities and technologies. They include but are not limited to:
Alternative text for every image so that screen reader software can navigate a site with or without a keyboard
Providing high contrast between the site background and text for easy readability
Providing a way to enlarge text
Making sure forms can be navigated and completed by people using screen readers
Closed captions or transcripts for video and audio content so that the hard of hearing can interact with your content
However, these accommodations don’t have to be expensive or time consuming for a business owner. We work with tools that can streamline this process to automate the accommodations using the latest standards and certify compliance with no impact to the design or functionality of your current website.
What Industries Are Most at Risk?
While every industry could be targeted, some of the most prone to lawsuits are:
Education – Current and potential students must be able to apply for admission, pay tuition and fees, find and register for classes, attend and access materials from virtual classes, submit work, connect with educators and support resources.
Restaurants & Hospitality – Current and potential clients must be able to research your offerings, reserve, book and pay for meals and accommodations.
Healthcare – Current and prospective clients must be able to research your offerings, book appointments and view medical test results and notes securely.
Sports & Entertainment – current and potential clients must be able to research your offerings, reserve, book and pay for tickets, streaming services and more.
Being proactive about website accessibility is more important than ever for businesses of all sizes. You’ve worked so hard to create a great business and website. Now more than ever, it is important both ethically and financially to protect your business from Web Accessibility lawsuits.
Is your website is ADA compliant? We can do a quick check for you and help you make some simple, affordable changes to correct any issues.
We put together this handy guide for getting Zoom Ready because we’ve received so many questions about using Zoom effectively for meetings, book clubs, family gatherings and more! Whether you are new to world of remote work, or used to working from home, you have probably encountered Zoom, a communication tool for video conferencing and meetings. Zoom is free for meetings up to 40 minutes in length, and very affordable plans are available if your needs exceed the free plans.
Here are our best tips for getting Zoom Ready:
Know your goals for the meeting
Prepare slides if needed
Have supporting documents, forms, slides, websites or resources set up and ready to show
Close other tabs on your browsers to avoid sharing things you don’t want to
Set clear expectations about when you will be able to answer questions and how you would like people to interact during the meeting
Document decisions and action items just like any other meeting
Be on time or early (especially if you are the host)
Stay connected to the conversation emotionally
Make time for small talk, create rapport
Showing your hands and using gestures builds trust (TEDx Talk)
Speak naturally and enthusiastically as if you are in person with your audience
Make eye contact with the camera, not your image on the screen
Set the Scene
Set up your camera angle to shoot you from slightly above your eye level
Set up an attractive, high contrast background
If you have dark hair and clothing, choose a light background and vice versa
Clean up clutter and mess!
Avoid windows, mirrors or glass behind you which show unintentional glare or reflections
Set Up Flattering Lighting
A window or LED light in front of you work best
Overhead light can create dark shadows under your chin
Backlight from lamps, windows or other sources can outshine your face
Don’t take your phone to the bathroom and other faux pas!
Don’t shout at anyone while your microphone and video are on
Try not to get up and walk around while you are on video
Set up in a room with a door and possibly a lock to avoid interruptions from children, spouses and pets
Prepare Your Gadgets
Strong internet connection to avoid delay or interruption (kick other people off streaming services while you are taking an important meeting)
Test that your audio is good
Use your computer’s microphone and speakers – or –
Get a USB microphone and/or speakers for your computer
Get ready for a bold statement – every company that plans to survive to 2030 and beyond must come to terms that they ARE a technology company. Those who run tech companies already, I’m sure you already know this. But those of you who fear they aren’t tech-savvy or who downright resist improvement through technology are doomed unless you read on and take this message to heart.
Technology isn’t just an industry sector, it is a foundation for every industry. Just as you need other supporting functions of your business like finance, sales, marketing, human resources, etc., you must invest in technology that helps you gain efficiency in your business processes. It is your systems for getting things done that most likely need to be turned into software to speed up, standardize and distribute the core functions of your business so that they can be automated or streamlined when they are done by your team, vendors or customers.
Have you noticed that many companies are making their customers fill out forms online to create accounts? Most customer service is accessible online. Your account questions get answered on a website, app or automated phone system. Getting software to perform these routine tasks is allowing these companies to grow rapidly at a higher profit margin, so they will have more cash to grow. These companies have already discovered and acted on the bold statement that they are tech companies and have outsourced customer care functions to you! Most of the products and services you purchased to run your company in the past few years were probably sold to you online with limited human contact.
If you aren’t already automating, delegating and distributing your work through technology, your competitors are. Your customers expect an increase in the ease and speed of interacting with companies. The costs of doing business with them are having a great user experience, usually delivered through thoughtfully designed software.
Start your technology company revolution by identifying the functions of your business that take the most time and therefore cost the most. If you can invest in software projects that streamline those functions, you can cut costs and increase your profits.
Laura Berens is Founder & CEO of Love and Fit, creator and host of the Time To Be You podcast, and a business consultant for women entrepreneurs.
With over 10 years of corporate experience, Laura has learned the true value of hard work. During her career in business development and sales, Laura became an expert in the fields of media and corporate wellness. The completion of her first NPC bodybuilding competition in 2012 marked the start of Laura’s passionate dive into the professional fitness world.
After becoming a mother, Laura discovered an untapped market which perfectly merged her expertise in fitness, business and love of helping women. Unsatisfied with the nursing sports bra options available on the market, she founded her own company, Love and Fit. Its mission: to provide functional and fashionable activewear options to help all women feel empowered, strong and fit.
Facebook chatbots are quickly becoming the hottest and most effective marketing tool on Facebook today! Not only are they hosted on the worlds most popular messaging app, Facebook Messenger which boasts over 1 Billion active users, but they are excellent for growing your business, your brand, your email list and cutting through the noise and the lousy Facebook algorithm. In this information-packed session, Kelly Noble Mirabella will teach you the basics of Chatbots. What are they? Why should you care? How can they help grow your business? Plus where to start TODAY when creating your first chatbot experience. All will be revealed and so much more!
With more than 11 years of social media marketing experience—and more than a few wacky costumes—Kelly brings tricky social media concepts to life through her fun, clear and memorable social media training videos and classes. Long before social media savvy was status quo, Kelly recognized how social media can take brand recognition, customer engagement and marketing efforts to a radical new level. What’s more, Kelly has spent the past two years learning to build Facebook messenger bots (aka “chatbots”), and now teaches others how to build them with simple, entertaining and,
sometimes, 80s-themed tutorials. Today, she teaches entrepreneurs, small business owners and working professionals how to use social media to improve their businesses and achieve their goals.
Kelly is known for her enthusiasm, creativity and passion for demystifying social media—not to mention her playful costumes and thematic presentations. Whether trying out Facebook Live or building your own chatbot, you can count on Kelly to guide you with skill and flair for totally stellar results.
If you are shoving cards in people’s hands and talking all about yourself, you are doing networking all wrong. Here’s some gentle reminders that will change everything for you!
You are inconsistent with networking
You show up to events occasionally, appear aloof, take only a shallow interest in getting to know others, and are more interested in collecting cards than connecting.
You don’t follow up after a networking event
I’d venture a guess that there is a huge pile of cards sitting on your desk that you haven’t even touched. If this is true, you are missing a huge opportunity and wasting a ton of time attending networking events.
Sending a quick note to everyone you meet with an invitation to connect on LinkedIn or Facebook will keep you top of mind. This is not an opportunity to send over the full sales pitch…you are just starting a relationship.
You request and expect referrals right away
Business people with integrity who have spent years building up trust with clients and contacts will be wary if you ask them for referrals right away. You could be most valuable resource in the world, but building trust is still a process. Dedicate yourself to caring about the people you meet, offer to get to know them, find out how you can help and take action on that. When you give first (#givefirst), you are setting yourself up to receive abundantly.
You aren’t clear about what you do and what value you can add
Express what you do in a way that offers specific ways you can help a specific target client. This approach takes the pressure off the conversation and makes it clear what type of client would be a good fit for you. The person you are talking to may not fit that profile, but when you are clear, you paint a vivid picture of who you need to meet very quickly. You never know who might pop to mind!
You can get better at networking!
Ask yourself, “How can I get to know the community first so that referrals flow in more easily?” Get involved with a community organization and share your talents freely. Work on becoming more visible as a leader who cares about connecting and helping others and you will be appreciated and noticed.