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Episode 108
May 20, 2019

Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2019

As Brian heads to NRF Tech Phillip pontificates on a foreseeable future where permits and certificates of occupancy are required to build shopping experiences on the web.

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As Brian heads to NRF Tech Phillip pontificates on a foreseeable future where permits and certificates of occupancy are required to build shopping experiences on the web. Listen now!

Show Notes:

Main Takeaways:

  • Brian is on his way to MC NRF Tech because retail tech may be moving fast, but Future Commerce is moving faster.
  • Accessibility is near and dear to Phillip's heart, and so are brands that have good faith practices.
  • The entire Future Commerce team are pretty big fans of our sponsors: Vertex and Braintree.
  • What does accessibility really mean to retailers?

Future Commerce Is Moving Pretty Freaking Fast:

  • Why is Phillip alone on this episode? Because Brian is on his way to NRF Tech to MC it up.
  • And speaking of MC fabulousness, for the second year in a row, Phillip was the MC at Magento Imagine, where he got to hang with (one of the coolest people on the planet) Gary Vaynerchuck.
  • Speaking of super cool: Our sponsors are pretty amazing as well.
  • Vertex is a leader in sales tax solutions, they provide on-premise tax solutions and are trusted by over half of the fortune five hundred companies to provide service, check them out here.
  • Braintree, a Paypal company is leading the way in mobile payment optimization and has even led an initiative (along with HiConversion and Magento) to share the best and worst practices in conversion to sales in the mobile-commerce space.
  • Future Commerce dedicated an entire episode to this mobile commerce initiative, it's a great listen for retailers, or anyone interested in the mobile-checkout experience.

Managing Compliance: How Retailers Can Check Their Progress:

  • So, as Phillip says in this episode, accessibility is more than just making things easier for only people with disabilities, it makes services easier to use for everyone, and that's good for retailers.
  • Web content accessibility guidelines are laid out in the American's with Disabilities Act, passed in 1990.
  • Accessibility is incredibly important to everyone at Future Commerce, especially Phillip, who has written several Ebooks with Something Digital: check them out here.
  • 'And speaking of compliance, Site Improve is a great tool that can help retailers manage their site accessibility compliance.

Accessibility is Important: Some Brands Do it Better:

So, now we want to hear from all of our listeners: Which brands do you think are working to make their sites and services more accessible to all? Let us know in the content section on, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Linkedin. Any questions, comments, or inquiries, can be emailed to

Download MP3 (12.3 MB)

Phillip: [00:00:21] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Phillip. And as we speak, Mr. Brian Lange, my co-host, is on his way to go be the Master of Ceremonies at the 2019 NRFtech conference in California. So he is out for this episode, and it's going to be a short one. Speaking of emcees, I was also Master of Ceremonies last week. Busy week for us. At the Adobe Magento annual conference that is in Las Vegas every year. Magento Imagine. And I got to spend a little time with some pretty cool people in my second year of hosting that show and spend a little bit of time with Mr. Gary Vaynerchuk. And so some of my conversation that I had with him will appear on the show at some other point in time, and that'll be fun. He did touch on some topics that we have covered recently like we did on Episode 107, our last episode, and where I sort of wax poetic a little bit of the conversation I had with Jason Calacanis a few weeks ago about retail and AI revolution and who wins in the end in our AI arms race and whether or not we have to worry about, you know, freaking robots taking over the world. Gary seems to not be so worried about that, but I'd love to share some of my conversation with him. So make sure you like and subscribe and do all those fun things, so that you never miss an episode of Future Commerce. Also to make sure that we're always paying love to the people who make the show possible. I want you to check out our sponsors, so please go visit Vertex. Vertex Cloud is a solution that is perfect for any company who cares about their tax and tax compliance and tax situation for businesses of all sizes from SMB all the way up to Enterprise. Vertex is a global leader in tax and compliance and they can help you today. So visit them at and make sure it give some love over to Braintree as well. Payments are as important as ever and doing payments well is hard. And so the folks at PayPal Braintree can make that easier. And in fact, they've been leading an effort called Mobile Optimized Initiative. And that mobile optimization initiative is helping retailers online to make very targeted changes, to bring a better experience to their customers, drive conversion rates and offer new options for payments in the process to help you build your business and to help your customers find what they're looking for a lot faster. So find out more about that over Ok, so today, Global Accessibility Day, if you know me, you know that I talk a lot about accessibility and accessibility is near and dear to my heart. I've written a number of ebooks on the subject with my employer, Something Digital. And you can find more of those e-books over at But we've written a lot about what accessibility means for retailers. And it's something that I advise our key accounts on on a daily basis. In my capacity as a consultant, one of the things that we've been talking about is before the age of the Internet, Internet sort of conformity or WCAG compliance, if you're hip to the jargon, that that web content, accessibility, guidelines, compliance that everybody seems to be harping on these days as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990. That is sort of becoming the bread and butter of a lot of folks who are approaching retailers or online retailers with lawsuits. And, you know, the idea of the outcome here is that most retailers would that long tail of the SMB or mom and pop retailer that's on Shopify or maybe even Magento or running their own eCommerce in some way would have some awareness of the impacts of accessibility and accessibility exercises in their business. So things like Global Accessibility Awareness Day or GAAD, if you will, really help heighten the understanding of people writ large in the marketplace as to what their investments in those sorts of initiatives can pay off both for the engagement and experience of their customers and for them as a brand. So one of the things that I talk about a lot with our retailers is that accessibility is good for all. It's good for everybody. Having an equitable commerce experience in your digital commerce channel is a good thing because not all impairments are permanent. A really good example that I love, which came out of Microsoft's accessibility initiative a few years ago, and they have a wonderful info graphic on it... The same sort of work that you might put into making a site, a mobile site, navigable with one hand will help both the person who is an amputee who has a permanent use of only one hand or mobility and only one arm, it will also help the person who is holding a baby in one arm or holding groceries, or God forbid, they're using their phone while they're driving. So not all impairments are permanent. Some are situational. And so when we put accessibility at the forefront of designing eCommerce experiences and user experiences, we actually create a better opportunity for helping our customers, no matter who they are. And so for Global Accessibility Awareness Day, I just wanted to call out a few brands that have done this really well. You know, we've talked a lot about Apple in retail over the last decade, and they are certainly someone who has invested a lot in accessibility. They are a major proponent of Global Accessibility Awareness Day and have put in major investments both to promote it worldwide, but they're also sponsors of GAAD itself. What they've done is they changed their whole front page to highlight the Global Accessibility Awareness Day. But their actual slogan was updated to reflect their commitment. And so they actually had a video commercial on their homepage which was absolutely moving that shows Sady Paulson, the subject of the video, who was narrating the video using switch control, which is a feature of iOS. And what's really interesting is how much they've invested in their platform's accessibility. So they are a retail brand, as we think of them, in that the Apple Store or the Apple online store or even the Apple App Store, they do sell in traditional retail means, but their platforms, their digital platforms, have accessibility features at the heart of them, and they help people every single day. They are also promoting iOS accessibility and have stories around iOS apps and developers who help people with disabilities. And some of those apps are Djay or Audible or even Strava, which is the fitness tracker or Ready to Roll. So really interesting stories over there. And if you wanted to check that out, we'll post up the video from Apple's front page over in our show notes. Another brand, or another eCommerce digital commerce brand, that we wanted to highlight today that is doing a great job of being more transparent in their accessibility approach plan is Shopify. So Shopify has actually renewed its commitment to providing customers with interesting means of access by having them implementing a multi-year plan. And so they actually have this publicly available over at and they have a multiyear implementation plan that will take all content, both content that's marketing content and its actual Shopify themes, up to a WCAG level to AA level. And that's usually the most astringent that you can get in the eCommerce or an interactive media. What they will be doing is from January 1st, 2016 and onwards, they're putting in this plan into place not just for information and communication, but for actual platform implementation and to actually help app developers and to help fund app developers to create more accessible web experiences. I think with any of these ecosystems, the biggest challenge to having accessible content is that while the platform itself might have some level of accessibility features built in, you're only as accessible as your least accessible app or theme or content piece that you've written or image that you uploaded that doesn't have some sort of alt tag or some sort of image description. So both on the education side for a merchant and also on the enablement side in providing learning resources and to help merchants come up to accessible levels and providing out of box capabilities that manage some of that compliance for you will help. Another one... Another tool that I use that I wanted to call out just before we wrap up is a tool called Siteimprove. Siteimprove is a company that helps you manage that compliance risk by providing you that your site scans. They don't just do accessibility, but I feel like they do a pretty good job at outlining sort of your total site conformity. A total overview. Being able to filter and edit by site roles. So if you wanted to find out things that you as a store owner or an operator could affect, like things like product descriptions or copy on a site, then that's definitely something that you can just filter down and find out. If you're an app developer and you wanted to make some modifications to your app to make sure that you are WCAG 2.1 AA Compliant, then yes, then that's something you can filter by your job role in Siteimprove. So we really like Siteimprove for managing those sorts of things. We think it's really interesting and I recommend it all the time. Apple, Shopify and Siteimprove have not given me any sort of money, but hey, we're always open for sponsorship, so drop us a line at But I think these are great tools, and they're all big proponents of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and they help folks to have more equitable site experiences. And I think that that is the point. Right? And I think where we're heading, if I could go Future Commerce and look out into the future a little bit, the more that retail moves and shifts from offline to online and vice versa, the more that we see people reaching for a mouse first to handle their shopping or picking up their iPhone or some mobile device to do product research or to engage with brands online, the more that we're going to see this sort of thing become actual, instead of being case law and being determined by prior judgments, litigations, or settlements, we'll have actual law here in North America in the United States. And what I think is probably coming in the next 10 to 15 years, if I had to put some money on it, is that we're likely to see compliance and especially from if you look at what's happened from interstate commerce with taxes. And at IRCE last year, we had a great interview with Vertex, who told us a little bit about SD Wayfair, and we'll have a check in on that around IRCE in June again here later this year. But that just reminds me that things are changing online for online retailers, and it's starting to look more and more like running a real business in the real world with retail space and frontage that is that faces a busy road in a downtown. And in those cases, just to get a certificate of occupancy, you have to pull permits, and you have to have inspections, and you have to comply with local and state rules and building codes. And we're probably 15 years out from that being a reality on the Web, too. I want to know what you think. I want to hear what your take is on that. And I want to hear how you are helping bring equitable site experiences to your brands as retail leaders yourself. Drop us a line and let us know what you're doing. You can do that at or email me directly, Remember to like and subscribe anywhere that podcasts are found. We want your reviews. They help us to get the show out to other folks as well. And you can always find every episode at Lend your voice to the conversation on our episode chat page. We'd love to hear from you. Wow. It's the end of another little short episode. Well not so short. Fourteen minutes. That's pretty good. We love hearing from you. Thanks for tuning in. We'll catch you later this week as Brian gives us a little bit of an update on what's been happening around NRFtech. And as always, hey, retail tech moves fast... Future Commerce is moving faster. Thanks for listening.

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