Accessibility is not a new concept. It’s been around for a while, helping ensure that people with disabilities can access the same opportunities, goods, and services that everyone else enjoys.
In the physical world, that means accommodating the needs of people with disabilities in public facilities such as wheelchair ramps, door knobs that are easy to grasp for people with arthritis, well-lit areas for people with low vision, etc.
Without these features, many are barred from places and pathways that most of us take for granted. They aren’t able to enjoy a full range of possibilities and choices when it comes to education, employment, and even healthcare programs. This impacts their life significantly and not in a good way.
Of course, it must be said that the government and businesses have come a long way to meeting the diverse needs of the public, including the disabled. Unfortunately, as we move our lives further into the digital world, accessibility is less of a priority.
For many businesses, creating a digital experience that is accessible to everyone, to the greatest extent possible, comes with a huge cost that they think they may never get any benefit from. What many fail to understand is that accessibility is actually a huge benefit for everyone.
An inaccessible website that prevents people with disabilities from navigating, interacting, and consuming the information on it is against the law. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), places of public accommodation need to be accessibleto all.
While there is still some debate on whether or not websites can be considered as such, the law is broad enough that it can be interpreted by the courts to include digital access. In addition, many states have already issued guidance and/or created laws regarding web accessibility. This means that companies that do not integrate accessibility features on their website are still vulnerable to lawsuits.
The number of lawsuits involving web accessibility continues to grow rapidly. In 2018 alone, there were 2,258 lawsuits filed in the US. That’s three times the number of filed lawsuits in the previous year. Businesses that want to avoid having their brand accused of discrimination and sued should regularly conduct ADA website audits to ensure compliance.
Create better user experience
Web accessibility and usability go hand in hand. The goal of web accessibility is to ensure that each person that visits a website is able to easily navigate and interact with its content. In short, it aims to make the website easy to use for all.
When a website is easy to use, it provides customers with a more positive experience. They are able to find information easily. They don’t have difficulty achieving what they set out to do such as buy a product or get information about a company.
There are many ways that web accessibility makes a website easy to use. For example, adding alternative text to images allows screen readers to describe the image to a visually impaired person. For a person with slow internet, alt text allows him to know what information the image is conveying before the image loads. Keyboard navigation makes a website more easy to use for people who are unable to use a mouse due to a temporary or permanent disability.
When people have a great user experience on a website or digital product, they will not hesitate to come back in the future. They are also more likely to recommend your brand to others.
Capture more users
Speaking of potential users, an accessible website can help you get more customers. One out of four adults in the U.S. is living with a disability. Enabling this segment of the population to fully engage with the content on your website means reaching a wider audience.
Additionally, there are 2.14 billion digital buyers around the world (2021). That’s one in every four people worldwide. Most of them will become loyal customers if they have a great user experience, and web accessibility can help with that.
Last but not the least, web accessibility can help improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO). To make your website accessible, you will need to add descriptive text links and alternative text for images. You will also need to make your content more structured and organized.
All of these have the added benefit of making your website more discoverable to search engines. If your site ranks higher, then more people will discover your website and are more likely to become a customer.
A broader audience means more potential customers. Potential customers mean potential sales. The more people you convert, the more profitable your business will be. And the longer you provide a great user experience, the more loyal your customers will be. That’s just basic business logic. But if you want numbers, here they are:
- The combined spending power of the disabled population in the US is $220 billion.
- 86% of users with access issues are willing to spend more if there were fewer barriers.
- 71%of users with access needs will leave a website due to poor accessibility.
- Tesco’s accessible website increased their sales by 350%.
In short, the more accessible your website is, the more customers you will get which will significantly impact your bottom line.
Accessibility is good for business
Creating an accessible website is not just good for people with disabilities. It can also benefit users without disabilities as well as the businesses themselves. At the very least, it’ll save you from a costly lawsuit.