Accessibility is the idea that everyone is afforded an equal opportunity to get the same information and enjoy the same products and services as everyone else, regardless of their disability. To put it more simply, it is the idea of universal access. Now, web accessibility is simply the practice of designing and developing digital products and services that can be used by anyone, including those with disabilities.
Obviously, ensuring that there are no barriers that prevent people from accessing something on the World Wide Web is just the fair thing to do. We don’t want anyone feeling left out or behind. However, there are other reasons why a business needs to invest money in accessibility.
- Meet compliance requirements
According to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), discrimination against people with disabilities in places that are open to the general public is taboo. These public places include websites and mobile apps. Simply put, ADA compliance standards make sure that your website is accessible to all, including those with disabilities such as low literacy levels and physical and mental impairments.
That’s where the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) comes in. This is a set of ADA website accessibility standards that were specifically designed to enable website owners to make sure that their websites have the level of accessibility that is required by law. If businesses want to comply with the law, they will need to conform to the WCAG.
Web accessibility obviously helps prevent ADA lawsuits and avoid fines for non-compliance. It also helps people deal with the current change in their work and home life environment. A lot of people are working or studying remotely these days. A percentage of those have a disability or impairment which means that there’s a possibility that they may find it difficult or even impossible to adjust to the new normal. There may be websites that are preventing them from taking courses, performing tasks, completing assignments, and holding meetings. Some individuals may have difficulty getting supplies during lockdown. If more websites are accessible, everyone will be able to cope better with this new kind of life.
- Have a good reputation
How people perceive your business can affect its success. A good reputation does more than just ensure that your current customers stay loyal to you. It also helps you attract new ones. Moreover, a good reputation will enable a business to charge a premium for their products and/or services.
Inclusion improves reputation. Brands like Microsoft, Apple, and Google have been praised for creating innovations that promote inclusivity. Web accessibility can do the same for your business—make your brand look good to the public.
- Increase site usability
It’s not only people with disabilities that will benefit from web accessibility. Making a website more accessible to the public increases its usability, making it easy for people to navigate and interact with it. And when you improve usability, everyone benefits.
Adding captions to videos and audio clips on your website, for example, allows people with hearing impairments to understand your content. It also enables other users to watch or listen in both quiet and noisy environments. Sufficient color contrast can enable people with visual impairments to more easily read and understand the text on a website. It also benefits people trying to view the website from a mobile device in direct sunlight or in a dark room. In addition to helping you achieve accessibility, following WCAG accessibility guidelines can fix some of the issues your website may have.
- Improve SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a priority for any business that wants to succeed. It helps drive traffic to your website, which means more sales for your business. It also helps you establish brand awareness and build credibility. But what does SEO have to do with accessibility?
Certain solutions to accessibility issues on websites go hand-in-hand with SEO best practices. Optimizing page titles, for example, help search engines determine the relevance of the web page in a search query which, in turn, will affect your ranking. It also helps readers know what information they will find on a page. This is especially important for people who use screen readers. Not only are they able to identify whether the website has the relevant information, it will also enable them to more easily navigate between pages when they have several tabs open.
Headings are important in SEO, but it also can improve the accessibility of a website. These can help screen readers navigate a page more quickly and allow users to go straight for the section of content they are interested in.
The impact of web accessibility to the growth of a business cannot be denied as more and more of our interactions happen in the digital world. Providing an accessible online experience is not just about avoiding a lawsuit. It’s also about building a brand that promotes inclusivity. It’s about expanding your market to include people with disabilities—people who have an annual discretionary income estimated at more than $20 billion.
David started Be Accessible because of his passion for website accessibility and ADA compliance. He spent much of his career working for financial institutions creating websites and mobile applications. He earned his Master’s in Business Administration from Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. David is an advocate for creating web interfaces usable by all people. He enjoys recording music and playing soccer with friends.