Web accessibility for Real Estate Websites

As ADA and FHA lawsuits increase in the real estate industry, it must be clear how to protect your business.

Accessible housing has become a top priority for real estate and housing companies because ADA and other accessibility laws have clearly outlined the physical elements needed to enable people with disabilities to access housing, shops, facilities, etc.

But when it comes to the accessibility of Web sites that offer real estate and housing services, things are starting to blur, as evidenced by the wave of Internet accessibility lawsuits that have targeted the real estate industry in recent months, including industry leaders like Zillow and Compass, who have been sued for being inaccessible to the blind.

What are the overlaps between real estate accessibility and Internet accessibility, and how can companies maintain ADA compliance in their physical and digital business units? This article will break down the accessibility of websites that offer housing and real estate services and the process of compliance with GlobalLincks, the Internet accessibility solution that makes your website accessible from day one.

Web Accessibility for Real Estate SitesWeb Accessibility Legislation for the Real Estate SectorCase Study: Zillow Faces Web-Based ADA & FHA Legislation

Web accessibility for real estate websites

Web accessibility is the practice of repairing a website to make it accessible to people with disabilities, which means specific code customizations that allow people with disabilities to surf without obstacles and interact with your content, ranging from design elements such as enlarged text for the visually impaired and pause animations for epileptic users to screen reader compatibility for the blind and keyboard navigation for the motor disabled.

The online provision of real estate and housing services to people with disabilities is as sensitive and in demand as physical structures. This is one of the main reasons why the real estate industry finds itself in the web accessibility hotspot, as it is an indispensable service. This contact with a wider range of users increases the likelihood of being discovered for an inaccessible website.

Accessibility solutions such as GlobalLincks are available to support the conformity process. GlobalLincks uses AI and automation to scan and correct all accessibility errors on your website without manual intervention except for the initial 5-minute implementation of a single line of code. The alternative, manual refurbishment, is not as available or effective for real estate websites because outsourcing an accessibility expert can cost you thousands of dollars and can take up to three months. GlobalLincks is an ideal solution for companies that prefer a reliable solution for their security and the ability to deploy valuable resources to other companies.

Accessibility legislation for the real estate industry

Easy access to real estate and housing services has always been a major concern for legislators. Of course, this remains a top priority on the web. Websites that operate in this ecosystem have several laws that they must comply with. GlobalLincks’s solution allows for compliance with all of these regulations.

American’s with Disabilities Act. ADA, established in 1990, prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. In 2010, the law was updated with ADA Title III to extend this ban to public accommodations, which includes all businesses. In 2018, the DOJ confirmed that websites should be considered places of public accommodations and should comply with the ADA. Although the ADA outlines requirements for accessibility of physical structures, it does not do so for websites.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The WCAG are the standard for Web Accessibility worldwide and have been adopted by most accessibility laws, including ADA. The careful instructions guide developers through the process of refurbishing a Web site to accessibility. Once implemented, the WCAG enable a wide range of people with disabilities to access, surf and interact with a Web site.

The Fair Housing Act. The FHA goes one step further and prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Unlike the ADA, which covers all aspects of society, the FHA is specific to the housing and real estate industry. The legislation covers discrimination against anyone who wants to rent or buy a home, take out a mortgage, seek help or conduct other housing policy activities, including, of course, people with disabilities.

Associations and organizations. Although this is not official legislation, it is important to note that official agencies such as the NAR and brokerage organizations have called on their communities to make their websites accessible and compliant in order to avoid lawsuits and open their websites to people with disabilities.

Case Study: Zillow Faces Web-Based ADA Lawsuits

Zillow made headlines earlier this year when the real estate service provider was sued for not being accessible to the blind. Visually impaired people who filed the lawsuit claimed that Zillow’s website denied people with disabilities full and equal access to the listings and housing services offered on the platform.

Zillow had failed to design a website that was compatible with the screen reader software that blind people can use to surf the Internet. As a result, the website had created “an incredible barrier to access for blind and visually impaired people, unless they can access websites and therefore the information and services contained therein.”

What Zillow and thousands of other websites failed to recognize is that screenreading software cannot be “interpreted” into the text that the screen reader can access.

The complaint mentions the non-compliance of both the ADA and the FHA and makes it clear that people with disabilities will not have access to publicly offered housing services under these two conditions. Defendant made it very clear to the Court that “the unlawful discriminatory practices of Defendants will continue indefinitely without court intervention.”

The process of accessibility

GlobalLincks has an affordable service that makes your website ADA and WCAG 2.1 AA compliant. If accessibility comes at the expense of performance, companies will reluctantly refurbish their websites, but that runs counter to accessibility, namely making the Internet accessible to all. The only way to do this is to make the web accessibility process simple, convenient, and reliable, so that website owners don’t even have to think twice about making this important decision.

If you are a Real Estate or any professional and need to comply with WCAG regulations, contact us right now via email info@globallincks.com

Website Accessibility – The new challenge

As housing search and application processes increasingly take place online, housing websites need to take steps to make people with disabilities fully accessible using assistive technologies.

In recent years, website accessibility has become a hot topic in the disability rights movement. Website accessibility refers to the extent to which a website is fully accessible to people with disabilities, especially people with supportive technologies such as screen readers. Americans with disabilities are less likely to regularly go online than their non-disabled counterparts, and some of that may be due to accessibility. Without being able to fully use websites, people with disabilities can apply for jobs, shop online, meet new people, access entertainment, and even find a place to live.

Inaccessible websites can prevent people with disabilities from accessing information about companies in the same way as their non-disabled counterparts, and so American with Disabilities Act ADA’s lawsuits on this issue have become more important in recent years. However, with the growth of virtual home searches and online rental applications, it is much harder to ignore the fact that inaccessible websites can also have important implications for compliance with the Fair Housing Act FHA.

What is website accessibility?

Accessibility of websites is the targeted design of websites that are accessible and usable by people with disabilities. If a website is not accessible, blind people, people with reduced mobility, people with seizures and others may not be able to use the website fully. Often, people with disabilities use assistive technologies to navigate the web. An example of assistive technology is a screen reader – a software program that converts text on a computer screen into audible language or Braille for blind or visually impaired people. It can also be used by people with other disabilities such as learning disabilities. Inaccessible web pages may contain elements that screen readers cannot interpret correctly, feature GIFs and flashing lights or colors, or make it difficult for users to navigate only with the keyboard.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires federal websites to be accessible, and in January 2017, the United States Access Board published provisions defining the accessibility of federal agency websites with respect to compliance with the Web Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 WCAG 2.0. Many private entities that have committed to accessibility also use WCAG 2.0 to develop their websites. Although the ADA requires effective communication from entities that communicate with the public, the federal government has not set official standards for Web accessibility for Web sites to comply with the ADA. Indeed, in December 2017, the US Department of Justice revoked the draft rules on the issue, after years of working to promote them.

Although the federal government has not yet issued detailed guidelines on accessibility of websites under the ADA, public accommodations have to comply with their obligations to communicate effectively. In recent years, complaints about accessibility of websites related to ADA have become increasingly important and the issue of online accessibility has come to the fore. In January this year, for example, the Ninth Circuit ruled that Domino’s website and the mobile pizza booking app must be accessible to blind customers via screen readers.

Since public accommodation under the ADA is obliged to communicate effectively with the public, complaints based on the ADA about the accessibility of websites, the most important way companies communicate with their customers nowadays, have been in the spotlight. However, accessibility on websites is important not only for public accommodation, but also for people with disabilities looking for accommodation.

The Fair Housing Act and protections for people with disabilities

The Fair Housing Act FHA is a cornerstone of civil rights protection in the United States. The Fair Housing Act FHA protects people from discrimination when they buy or rent a home, take out a mortgage, seek help in finding housing, or make other household-related transactions. The original law, passed in 1968, protected people from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, and religion. In 1974, gender was added as a protected class by the Act, and the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 added value to protection based on marital status and disability.

People with disabilities face many obstacles to finding housing, and while the problems persist, the FHA has vastly improved housing options for people with disabilities. FHA allows people with disabilities to request adequate housing and conversions so that they can fully use and enjoy their homes. It is also illegal for landlords, caretakers, and others to discriminate on the basis of a person’s disability.

However, the accessibility of the websites prevents many people with disabilities from finding an apartment at all. ERC regularly hears from housing providers about the obsolescence of physical rental offices and the growing importance of online housing advertisements and rental applications. Indeed, a 2016 TransUnion survey found that 56 percent of rental managers saw an increase in online housing applications in the previous year. If housing websites are not accessible to people with disabilities, they effectively exist as another obstacle to equal housing opportunities.

Online barriers to housing for people with disabilities

Last month, the ERC released a report based on a civil rights study on housing accessibility for people with disabilities, which describes numerous barriers to access for people with disabilities seeking housing in the Washington, D.C. area, both online and in person.

The ERC used matched pair tests to compare the experiences of a blind tester and a visually impaired tester when navigating the websites of apartment building providers, and the blind tester used a screen reader to navigate the websites. Overall, the ERC tested 25 websites in both their desktop and mobile form.

The results showed that 84 percent of the tested desktop versions of websites and 76 percent of the mobile versions of blind testers had barriers to determining device availability, filtering search results by preferred unit size and / or learning about rental offers. Furthermore, 16 of the tested websites had online applications, 13 of which were inaccessible to screen readers, which meant that the blind tester was unable to complete or submit the application on its own. If the results of these site tests were applied to personal visits, the result would be that, in 81% of visits, a blind visitor would not even be able to submit an application.

In less than a generation, the Internet has completely transformed our world, providing people with disabilities with better access and integration that most of us could not even imagine before they existed, but unless technological advances actively involve people with disabilities, they will continue to be left behind.

Accessibility of websites is rightly gaining attention as an important element of the movement for accessibility and disability rights. As the world becomes increasingly digital, we must not forget that websites are crucial for housing and public accommodation. For many, surfing the internet is the first step in finding accommodation. As online apartment search and rental applications become more and more dependent, the responsibility of housing providers to ensure access in the digital sphere becomes increasingly evident. Housing providers should prioritize the development of accessible websites, and advocates should pay attention to accessibility of websites as an emerging problem of fair housing.

If you believe you have experienced discrimination in housing, you can contact the Equal Rights Center. To report your experience, please email info@globallincks.com

 

By Aastha Uprety – Equal Rights Center

April 30, 2019

8 Benefits of Professional Website Design

Professional Website design is not something you should take lightly. No matter how small or large your business is, every business in United States needs a professional website. This is an investment you need to make. One of the biggest problems in Internet marketing today is that small business owners don’t realize how important it is to have a high quality, professionally built website. The functionality and look of your website can make or break you.

Here are 8 reasons why it pays to make your website professional:

1. You will receive a page that is compatible with all the latest mobile technologies.

Not every so-called “web design” company or provider has the knowledge or skills required to create a website that runs smoothly not only on computers, but also on tablets and smartphones. A website should also be designed to be adaptable to new and upcoming devices. A professional designer will make your entire website future-proof as new possibilities for surfing the Internet arise.

2. You can expect a better looking design.

The quality of the design itself depends on the level of professionalism of the vendor. If you try to use only a cheap, pre-made template, your website will look cheap. This is because most pre-made templates are simple and offer little to no improvement.

3. You will receive a custom design.

Professional designers know how to create an impressive website that reflects the specific needs and personality of your business. You get a website that is designed just for you.

4. Fast loading of web pages.

Every website uses third-party plug-ins and tools for one reason or another. If someone inexperienced tries to build your site, they may not integrate the plug-ins correctly; the way a site is encoded also affects performance and speed. If a site is slow or suffering from performance, no visitor will want to stay around.

5. It saves you a lot of trouble.

You get what you pay for, and if you pay a low price for a website, don’t be surprised if there are problems with it. You’ll still pay more money by having a professional designer fix the bugs, and the entire website may even need to be renewed. If you hire the right provider, you can expect to have a hassle-free experience.

6. A high quality website will help strengthen your brand.

The way for any business to succeed on the Internet is to establish a brand. To achieve this, you need to have a good-looking, bespoke website. It will give your customers the right message about what kind of business you run and why they should trust you.

7. Increased visibility in search engine results.

It is no secret that search engines – especially Google – love unique content. A professional web design team will be able to create a search engine-friendly website for you that is able to apply all the essential elements that contribute to your site being indexed and ranked.

8. Possible downtime is minimized.

Poorly constructed websites have bugs and maintenance problems. What goes wrong with one of the plug-ins? What if there are cross-compatibility problems? A reliable web designer prevents problems. Even if this is the case, a professional will be able to detect the problem and fix it quickly.

These are just some of the many reasons why you should consider working with a professional, experienced web design team in Orlando.

website seo
website seo

Why website SEO is crucial?

Over 98% of people who use Google only look at the first page of the search results, and most people only click on the first three results. 88% of people worldwide use Google, but this concept applies to every search engine. So what do you do when your small business website appears on page 12 of the search results and not on the first page? Search engine optimization or SEO is the process of increasing your position on the website and page rank organically through high quality backlinks and effective keywords. SEO is the most effective way to increase traffic to your website.

The Ideal visitors

There are more than 180 million registered websites today, which means that people rely heavily on search engines to find exactly what they are looking for. If they don’t find it on the first page, they prefer to adjust their search terms and start from scratch, rather than search on the following results pages. People who search for exactly what you offer and see your page on the first page of the results are considered ideal visitors because they are most likely to turn into customers, subscribers, etc. If your site is not in the top results, let alone on the first page, it is almost as if your site does not exist.

Location and Page Rank is important

Each website has a ranking for specific keywords or keywords. Originally, search engines worked by tracking all words on web pages. If you searched for “California Sandals,” you were presented with a list of web pages that contained these two keywords. Websites that most often contained these keywords were ranked upwards. Search engines now rate web pages by two main criteria: backlinks and keywords. Websites that are frequently referenced or reset by other websites are more likely to be considered relevant by search engines. Websites are ranked by the number and quality of backlinks from other websites. Keywords let Google see your site and know what it’s about, while backlinks determine how much Google trusts your site to be relevant. Keywords and backlinks are essential to getting your site up the search result food chain. There are two components to getting up the chain: on-site and off-site SEO. On-site SEO involves optimizing your site to include relevant keywords. Off-site SEO involves you working to create backlinks to your site that come from other sources. Links to your site can be created through the use of social media, articles, blog posts, discussion forums, etc. The more influential or legitimate the site is for links to be linked back to you, the more influence the backlink from that site will have on your search results ranking.

Growing your business through SEO and maintaining ranking

With SEO, you can focus your efforts on the very people you want to visit on your site. Since companies are able to attract ideal visitors rather than relying on large-scale ads, 72% of companies say that SEO brings them the most money compared to newspaper or television advertising. Once you’ve turned the numbers into new revenue, it becomes clear why SEO is valuable – especially for small businesses. You’re not quite done when your page reaches the front page of search engines. Ideal visitors are even more likely to become customers or subscribers if your website is well designed, clear contact information and polite staff is ready to answer any queries.

A good SEO takes time and effort

Since almost everyone relies heavily on search engines to find something online, SEO is the most effective way to increase traffic to your website. Good SEO takes time, so the earlier you start, the sooner you can climb the page rank ladder. To learn more about SEO for your website, watch the video below. At GlobalLincks, we offer unbeatable SEO services and specialists who can help you improve your page rank. Book an appointment to speak with a website specialist for free advice.

5 essentials Rules to Maximize Your Email Marketing engagement

One of the most difficult aspects of email marketing is persuading an email subscriber to become something more – a buyer, for example. Email marketing conversion is a much discussed topic in online marketing, but it is often presented in an abstract, hard-to-follow way.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The more you understand about email marketing, the more you’ll understand how easy it can be to turn subscribers into doers. Here are five simple rules to help you maximize your email conversion.

1. Understand your audience

The key to transforming as many email contacts as possible is knowing who you are contacting. Understand who your subscriber is and how your products, services, or even content can be of use to him or her. Before writing your next email marketing campaign, consider the following questions.

  • Who is my target audience for this particular product, service or content?
  • How could the people on my existing contact list benefit most from what I offer?
  • What brand expectations do my subscribers have of me and how will this campaign help meet those expectations?

2. Make sure your call to action is clear

If you want something, you need to feel free to ask. Email contacts are like messages that get to the point. Have a clear call to action, and make it easy for your subscriber to act on that call with the least effort.

  • A direct call to action that explains exactly what you want the subscriber to buy a particular item, take part in a survey, and so on
  • A simple design that stays on the brand, with text, font and graphics large and clear enough to be displayed
  • An uncomplicated way for the contact to complete the action, preferably with one click

3. Make sure that the copy is well written and varied

A well-written copy of your email marketing campaigns can increase or break your conversion rates. Create your campaign copy in precise and clear language and avoid long sentences and grammatical errors. Write the following:

  • Uses action-oriented text, such as “read the latest eBook,” “reserve your place in my workshop” or “download this useful graphic.”
  • Written in the first person
  • Creates a sense of urgency in the recipient

4. Segment Your Email Lists

Segmenting your email subscriber list can help you better address certain subgroups that have a particular interest in a product or service.

  • Demographics: age, nationality and so on
  • Behavior: Consider how users handle your e-mails as often as they open or click through an e-mail, for example
  • Geography: Segment by UK countries Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland or sub-regions Northern England and Southern England and so on
  • Preferences and interests: You can base this information on past purchases, surveys or other data about a particular subscriber.

5. Personalize as much as possible

An e-mail is a personal form of communication. As such, you want your e-mail campaigns to be as personalized as possible. In addition to using inline features that address an e-mail recipient by name, you also try to personalize the e-mail by sending unique e-mails that address the specific personal details of subscribers.

If you really want to maximize your email marketing solutions, Book an Appointment. To learn more, visit our website today.

How to add a person as an admin on Facebook Pages

The first thing you have to do is log in to your Facebook account, and navigate to your Facebook Business Page.

Step 1: Open your Facebook Page. Make sure you are logged in to Facebook

Step 2: Click on Settings which would be located on the top bar right next to Help option. It would be towards the right side.

Step 3: Navigate to the row that says “Page Role” and click on it.

Step 4: When you click on it the Page Roles section will open and will look something like this:

Facebook Pages Roles

When you click on the drop down (or drop up, whatever that is) you will see you get tons of options to choose from.

If you don’t want to make someone an admin, you can choose to make them any of the following:

  1. Editor
  2. Moderator
  3. Advertiser
  4. Analyst
  5. Live Contributor

Step 5: Time to enter the name of the person you wish to make an admin or a team member for that to matter. Type the name of the person you have in mind in the box:

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