Advocating For Accessibility On The Web

Accessibility is a core tenet for many cannabis retailers and processors. This industry, rooted in their initial medical markets, has long held the belief that it should be easy for customers to be able to access products that may help ease their given symptoms. Why then has the accessibility of websites taken a back seat when the majority of sales are on websites?

It’s time to bring cannabis companies up to speed by adopting the standards for accessibility that are ubiquitous outside of the industry; if not for the customer, then to avoid potential lawsuits from opportunistic law firms. Here are the things you should know:

WCAG 2.2 Standards

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were developed in the mid-90’s with the aim to establish a set of standards to address accessibility online. While WCAG compliance is not enforced, many countries have based their own accessibility laws on the cornerstones of these guidelines. In this article we’ll focus on “AA” compliance – one of the most common and comprehensive levels of WCAG 2.2 (the most current revision). These complex and lengthy guidelines can be summarized as follows:

Perceivable Information

Perceivable information is centered around the inclusion of “text alternatives,” captions, content presentation, and making sure content is easy to see and hear. Each of these goals are filled with individual standards that help to achieve easily digestible information.

Operable User Interface

Operable user interface focuses on the ability of the user to use different tools to digest content, make sure there is enough time to read that content, and provide easy navigation so you can find content or determine where you are within the context of your site.

Understandable Information

Understandable information is meant to encapsulate the ability of the user to read the text, have content appear in predictable ways, and help users with contextual mistakes while they are attempting to interact with your site.

Robust Content

Robust content and its reliable interpretation are foundational in WCAG 2.2. Broadly, this is meant to set standards for compatibility with other browsers, assistive technologies, and other types of user agents.

How To Achieve WCAG & ADA Compliance

Listing out the principles of WCAG compliance does very little for us to actually implement and interpret those standards. They are complex, time intensive, and (most of the time) fairly costly to implement on your website. Oftentimes, if you were attempting to do this yourself, it would require hiring a specific WCAG agency along with a web development agency to achieve this. With budget constraints being what they are in the industry, we’ve proposed another solution:

WCAG Automated Software

Rather than re-building your website at your expense, there are tools that help you achieve WCAG compliance rather easily – and for a fraction of the cost. There are plenty of automated software solutions for compliance, though some stand out options are Accessibe, Userway, and EqualWeb. These tools typically have a setup time under 1 hour and involve only 1 line of code to be added to your site. After installation, theyautomatically remediate issues on the website and provide a suite of tools for the impaired.

Additionally, these solutions work at the user-session level, which means your site will appear as you designed it until a specific user requests certain accessibility features, which will appear just for them.

While software is helpful to do the bulk of the work, there is the potential for and automated solution to miss elements required to reach WCAG compliance.  This is where a hybrid approach can be beneficial.

WCAG Automated Software + Agency Management

We’ve recently launched a program to combine the power of automated software with the remediation efforts an agency can provide. In this approach, an agency can run reports and catch areas where the automated software fails to automatically remediate the issues, preventing you from falling out of WCAG compliance. 


If you’re interested in learning more about this solution, feel free to reach out to book a call with our team to discuss the benefits of working with an agency for WCAG compliance.

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Patrick Toste from HIGHOPES

Ready to start unlocking the potential of your cannabis brand? Submit the form below and our Creative Director, Patrick, will be in touch!