Is Shopify's new customer accounts feature violating ADA compliance?

unplugged
Excursionist
16 0 5

January Shopify announced a new version of the Customer Accounts section.  This pertains to the 'Account' login link shown in the online store and checkout.

 

If you follow the instructions in Shopify tutorials properly you can add a new domain 'account.(yourwebsite).com' add it to the Domain list and point it to the target of Customer Accounts.  You can turn on the new Customer Accounts by going to Admin>Settings>Customer Accounts> Accounts in online store and checkout - Clicking Edit and then changing the option from "classic..." to "New..."  Once you hit save, the "Accounts" link in the header is now being forwarded to the sub-domain and you have a new customer portal that actually work way better! 

 

Here is the link to the Shopify Tutorial ( https://help.shopify.com/en/manual/customers/customer-accounts/new-customer-accounts ). The above mentioned starts at the section labeled "Setup New Customer Accounts"

 

Fast-forward 9 months. My ecom store is being sued for an ADA violation and the ADA violation that is being listed is that the "Account' link in my header opens an external website and there is no proper attributes for screen readers attached to the link code.  

I talked with Shopify support via chat and they have confirmed that I did not modify any code and they also confirmed that, Yes, the link does need to have plain text, or ARIA attributes stating the link opens an external site.  

This means that Shopify's own code is lacking this attribute and it has been lacking that since its release. Let me reiterate, that there is no part of the install that requires any coding, or adding any links yourself. You simply follow the instructions as mentioned above and its populated on your site.  Which means this added bit should be populated correctly with simple accessibility standards already done. Especially since Shopify lists accessibility as a priority in their policies.  

 

For some of you who will mention that I should have tested this via the WAVE tool or any number of accessibility checkers please note that the link in the code is href  =  "/account", which means automated accessibility site checkers pick this link up as an internal link, and do not show it as a violation. 

 

I have asked chat for a number to call for support and they told me it is not something they have, and that my best bet is to post here and have a Shopify expert contact me. 

 

Please be warned about adding this to your site though the Customer Accounts admin!!!  

 

-Also I would love to be proven wrong about this and shown that this link is actually correct and is not in violation of WCAG 2.2 AA standards.

 

TLDR: Adding the New Customer Accounts header link via Shopify instructions though the admin, will populate a link on your header that does not have the proper attributes for accessibility and may open you up to lawsuits. 

 

Replies 5 (5)

PaulNewton
Shopify Partner
6339 580 1350

Merchants that need theme customizations for accessibility may contact me directly by mail for services.
Please always provide context , be detailed, examples: store url, theme name, post url(s) , or any further detail.
Contact Info in signature.

 

First, when being sued get a lawyer verse in the topic at hand don't listen to anyone else except your actual paid legal counsel. They should inform you of the actual realities and timelines when dealing with this stuff.

 

Do not rely on arbitrary internet advice it cannot protect you in court.

 

If your not sure WHICH specific criteria is the problem then you have to try and shotgun fix any that may related which can be expensive and dumb instead of prioritizing.

 

Verify and actually define what is actually being claimed

  1. Is this for WCAG22 or for earlier version like  WCAG 2.1 Level AA  , if the site is 2.1 compliant your fine for some time.
  2. WCAG22 was literally became a recommendation this month https://www.w3.org/WAI/news/2023-10-05/wcag22rec/  you'd have to get a really brimstone judge to fault anyone for that, you have time.
  3. Search the actual WCAG22 for your relevant terms: "link" "redirect" etc https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG22 this will also have links to how to meet criteria
  4. In the suit there should be specific numbers for which criteria isn't met
  5. The suit should be coming from an actual legal firm that verifiably exists, otherwise you may just be getting trolled or farmed.

Grossly a redirect may fit under changes of context or link_purpose https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG22/#dfn-change-of-context  , https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG22/#dfn-purpose-of-each-link 

 


@unplugged wrote:

This means that Shopify's own code is lacking this attribute and it has been lacking that since its release.


This would only apply to themes made by shopify that are installed AFTER the platform wide feature release.

In which case shopify support should be able to help those merchants add a customization to their theme using the limited courtesy free design time each plan gets.

 

That individual merchants have not updated their licensed themes is not a platform issue if they have outbound link redirects that are not clarified for accessibility.

Keep in mind this just isn't for /account links it's any outbound link which would be ridiculous to expect shopify to try and manage per merchant.

Save time & money ,Ask Questions The Smart Way


Confused? Busy? Get the solution you need paull.newton+shopifyforum@gmail.com


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unplugged
Excursionist
16 0 5

Paul,

 

Thank you for your response. I understand you have written this in a more vague manner as an overview response to cover way more than my specific issue, which people should appreciate when searching for issues regarding these topics.   As I stated in this message I would love to be proven wrong, and I hope you do that.

 

As you see in my post I am not talking about anything Theme related, this has to do directly with the "New Customer Account" update from January and the application of that update which is done by following the directions from the link I provided.  The directions simply have you make some backend updates within the admin (not theme) under the Customer section.   No Code is changed, updated, or applied. 

 

The suit brought against my site claims this one issue for the 'Account' link. The above mentioned setup changed to the "New Customer Account" which now links to an external site.  ( the new site starts off with --> https://shopify.com/ .... and leads to the new customer account with my branding).  The old Customer Account link simply linked to an internal page.

 

The suit claims it violates WCAG 2.1 - Level A : 2.4.4 - Link Purpose (In context). Explanation as following: "The 'Account' link in the header section takes users to an external website, but users are not notified as required."

it then gives the link as reference - https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG21/Understanding/link-purpose-in-context.html

 

I am being told that this link needs to have either a Aria-Label or Aria-Labelby attribute associated with it since it is an external link.  However when researching this, I cannot verify this is correct since this link does not open a new window or a new tab, and most documentation for labeling references such.

 

My biggest issue with this (if what i'm told in the suit is correct) other than the fact I'm being sued, is the fact I had no ability to change the raw code and that the Shopify code applied was missing these needed labels to comply with standards. 


Also i have no issues with fixing this, as I would simply revert it to the Old customer account setup and it would solve it.  However Im already being sued and walking something back is not always that simple, and I would like to save people from doing what I did (if its wrong).

jclarklanza
Tourist
4 0 5

I think you are misunderstanding the cause of the issue you’re experiencing. The button that lives on your theme is what you’ve been referring to. This is controlled directly in your theme code. If you need to add ARIA attributes or whatever it may be, to make that button more compliant, then that’s on you and your developer.

 

If you were talking about a button on the New Customer Account page (you’re not, you’re referring to the one in the header of your theme that is linking out to the external page) that would be a different story and something that would fall on Shopify’s shoulders. 

 

Please understand that the button concerned in the ADA complaint lives on your theme and you and your developers are responsible for the development of your theme. 

 

To be even more clear about this: the only thing that changed when updating to the New Customer Accounts, is that the link is now pointing outbound instead of inbound. It’s still your button. In fact the href itself probably hasn’t changed. Only the destination of where that link takes you has changed.

unplugged
Excursionist
16 0 5

On a non-code changed fresh out of the box Dawn 12.0 theme, clicking the Account link takes you to https://[your domain]/account/login

 

After making the updates as per exact Shopify insturctions your account link redirects to the following address:

https://shopify.com/[your account]/auth/lookup?destination_uuid=b42a8086-50b1-48e5-bcab-0af409137e8d&redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Faccount.[your domain].com%2Fcallback&rid=65649563-98fe-4a12-96ef-6f7d7e836bb8&ui_locales=en-US

 

The code in both pre account update and post update are exactly the same <a href="/account" ...
Which means shopify itself added a forward/redirect to the new destination. Also both codes do not have any accessibility code (which is absolutely fine with no redirect).

 

In fact, when you make the change under Customer Accounts prior to saving you get the warning "All links to classic customer accounts will redirect to new customer accounts, except the customer register page." which means they are adding their own redirect, which you have no access to.

 

Yes you could in fact add it yourself after making the update, however shopify never states this in any of their documentation. Plus if you knew nothing about coding or accessibility code and were using a fresh out of the box Dawn Theme (which is covered by Shopify's Dawn theme accessibility statement - https://www.shopify.com/accessibility/vpat-theme-dawn) you would technically  be open to a lawsuit.

 

On top of this I personally have seen 3 separate lawsuits that have stated that the Shopify Link at the bottom of the page is also out of compliance for the same reason, and this is also on a fresh non-changed shopify theme.   

 

Fresh out of the box Shopify Themes that have accessibility statements provided by Shopify itself should in fact be accessible.  I understand once you start changing code, that the liability of the changed code is now your responsibility.   Shopify is not only for developers, as seen in much of its marketing throughout the years.  I am not going to get into the weeds about this opinion, but simply if you are providing a product and you have statements on your site representing and standing behind such a product you either need to keep your code in compliance, or you need to have statements about how certain updates effect it.

jclarklanza
Tourist
4 0 5

I see you've gone to great lengths to craft your defense on this issue, but I'm afraid you still are misunderstanding. First, I know my account doesn't show it but I have been a Shopify Developer for many years at several reputable agencies over the years. I am just trying to help you understand the issue better and anyone that comes across this post in the future. I understand and am familiar with all of the points you've mentioned; including helping many clients with ADA lawsuits and LOCs.

 

To your credit, it is a bit confusing, and I would agree that it's a little unfair for Shopify to not have included a disclaimer on the page when the merchant is switching customer accounts from Classic to New. I also personally think the New Customer Accounts is hot garbage.

 

That said, you are responsible for ensuring the links on your page are ADA compliant, not Shopify; you and your developer should understand the implications of an internal link changing to an external link. If you don't understand the implications of that and how/when/who should remedy it, then you have bigger problems on your hands, as this button in your header is just one of many -- and the web (especially e-commerce) is constantly changing. 

 

I personally am of the opinion that "you don't need a developer to do Shopify" is also a big misunderstanding and that they should stop marketing as such, because it's definitely just not true. Successfully building a store on Shopify (and avoiding ADA lawsuits) most definitely requires working with a developer.

 

I understand it doesn't seem fair to you but it is what it is. Both myself and Paul (who also is a Shopify Partner) have tried to explain the same thing to you.