Most of us are comfortable with the fact that both communication and commerce are now prominently done online. It’s convenient and efficient. Plus, it is not limited by physical barriers such as location and currency. This transition has given us the freedom to purchase what we want, whenever we want. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to enjoy these benefits. People with disabilities can still encounter difficulty in accessing websites.
Web accessibility is founded on the idea of universal design – all digital tools, products, and services must be easy to access and use for everyone. That includes people with disabilities. Web accessibility is key to ensuring that everyone is able to fully engage with the digital world – no one is left behind.
Obviously, inclusivity is an important reason why businesses should ensure website accessibility. But that’s not the only one. There are several benefits to making sure your business is ADA compliant.
Ensure legal compliance
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design, all electronic and information technology need to be available to everyone. This means that everyone, including individuals with disabilities, should be able to easily access, navigate, and understand the content of your company’s website. No one should ever feel discriminated against when using your digital property.
Protection from lawsuits
One of the main reasons why you need to ensure legal compliance is because if you don’t, you are vulnerable to lawsuits. In fact, a lot of companies are proof positive that ignoring web accessibility is not good for business. Some of the big companies who have been sued because of this include Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Nike. In 2018 alone, 2285 lawsuits were filed involving web accessibility. That’s not counting letters of complaints (thousands of them) that were sent to businesses due to the lack of accessibility of their website.
Prevention of discrimination
Lawsuits aren’t going to be your only problem. Ensuring the accessibility of your website prevents your customers from feeling discriminated against. And it’s not just about making your customers feel bad (though that’s not good either). When customers feel that they are being treated poorly, they don’t patronize your business. Worse, they tell people about it. So, not only do you lose sales, you also lose your reputation.
Your business gets a competitive advantage
Aside from shielding your business from some negative effects, an accessible website can also provide you with a number of benefits.
Increase in the market share
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 61 million adult Americans have a disability. This same group of people have around $645 billion in annual disposable income. That’s a large segment of the market that you really can’t afford to ignore. A website that can provide a great digital experience for everyone can help you attract those customers which increases your market share.
Improvement of brand image
Internet activism isn’t anything new. More and more people are putting their money where their ideals and values lie. Data from a survey conducted by Accenture Strategy shows that 63% of consumers prefer to buy from brands that are willing to take a stand on issues of public concern. With an accessible website, you’re showing your commitment to provide equal access to all. No one gets left out. Inclusiveness and social responsibility are two causes that a lot of people hold close to their heart, especially those who live with disabilities and their loved ones. And when your customers realize where you stand, it helps build a positive brand image for your business.
Engagement of larger audience
As we’ve already mentioned, web accessibility allows you to build a more positive brand image. When people have a good user experience, they are more likely to recommend your business to others which means more customers for you. And we’re not just talking about people with disabilities. When you improve the accessibility of your website, it enhances user experience which benefits ALL of your users – not just those that need it.
Schedule regular accessibility checks
Ensuring web accessibility is not a one-time thing. Technology changes. Your website won’t stay the same for long. You’ll probably need to create new pages or update some functionalities on your website. Even if you might not change your website, browsers and devices also undergo changes over time. What works now won’t always work forever. So, it’s important to ensure that you’re maintaining accessibility compliance by performing regular testing.
Make sure content is compliant
How do you make sure that your content remains accessible? Use the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to see how your content fares. A manual audit of your website should let you know what you need to do to keep your content compliant.
PDFs & documents are accessible
Your web content is not the only thing you need to make sure is accessible. Any documents that you post online or send to your customers should also be accessible. What does this mean? Any documents you have should be readable whether it’s printed or shown online. Users should be able to use assistive technology like connected Braille displays to consume the content in your PDFs. Moreover, the content within should be easy to understand, even for people with cognitive disorders. To make sure that your online documents are accessible, they need to undergo document remediation wherein they are evaluated according to the standards of accessibility.
As you can see, web accessibility is not just good for the disability sector. It’s great for business as well. It helps increase your market share, improve user experience, and boost sales. And if you want to continue your good fortune, it’s equally important for you to regularly test your digital product, service, or tool to see if they remain compliant to ADA standards.