Why is Web Accessibility Important to Your Business?
The easy answer is that web accessibility is now such an important consideration that you simply cannot afford for your website not to be accessible. But, of course, there is more to it than that…
We’ve come a long way since the early days when US astronomer Clifford Stoll submitted an article entitled “The Internet? Bah!” into a Newsweek publication, boldly predicting that the internet was no more than a passing fad. Obviously, he couldn’t have been more wrong, and today the internet is an incredibly important tool and a more valuable source of information than ever - and it’s not going anywhere!
Just like the internet itself, accessibility is by no means a passing fad. So if you commit to having a website for your business at all, then why not make it fully inclusive and accessible, rather than alienating groups of users and consumers? In an age where the entire world is embracing diversity and fighting for equality, the phrase ‘be kind’ seems to get bounced around on an ever-increasing basis. So we urge you to be kind to your website users and adapt to meet the needs of those who suffer from a range of disabilities including:
- Visual impairments
- Colour blindness
- Speaking English as a second language
- Mobility and physical impairments
Key Reasons to Ensure Your Website Is Accessible
1. Revenue: Making your website accessible to all consumers is the smart thing to do.
The business case for accessibility varies based on the type of organisation, but particularly in the case of commercial companies, justification is required before resources can be allocated towards it. At Recite Me, we are confident that the benefits outweigh the effort and costs, and a recent research study of Fortune 100 companies discovered that having a robust online diversion and inclusion policy is a common denominator among high performing businesses. Plus, there is an abundance of information and statistics that rebut the argument that return on investment is too difficult to measure in order to warrant the outlay required:
- The total disposable income of the US working-age population with disabilities is $490 billion
- The online spending power of people with access needs in the UK is £24.8 billion.
- 86% of users with access needs would spend more if there were fewer barriers.
- 83% of people with access needs limit their shopping to sites that they know are accessible.
- 71% of users leave a site that they find hard to use.
Ultimately, users will click away from inaccessible websites and spend their money elsewhere. So there is a clear case that making a business accessible online as well as in-person should lead to an increase in profits. Despite this, fewer than 10% of businesses have a targeted plan to access the disability market.
2. Improving User Experience: Making your website accessible to all consumers is the right thing to do.
It is a commonly agreed principle that everyone should have access to information online. Microsoft’s application guide for developers specifically states that designing inclusive software results in improved usability and customer satisfaction, and this is something that the team at Recite Me can verify from experience.
The inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, believes that the internet should empower all members of society by making information accessible to everyone.
“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect…The Web is fundamentally designed to work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, location, or ability.”
Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Inclusivity online becomes increasingly relevant when you consider that:
- Approximately one in every hundred people worldwide has a learning difficulties that can make accessing information online difficult.
- At least one billion people worldwide have a recognised disability that can make accessing information online difficult.
- 20% of the UK population and 25% of the US population live with a disability.
- One in ten people in the UK doesn’t speak English as their first language.
- More than one in five people living in America speak a language other than English at home.
3. Compliance & Legalities: Making your website accessible to all consumers is a thing you must do.
Nowadays, it is expected by law that businesses and service providers do not treat disabled people less favourably. So in order to avoid lawsuits, companies are required to adhere to national and international standards and guidelines. A few examples are as follows:
In the UK - The Equality Act of 2010 states that all UK service providers must consider ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled people. Furthermore, the final deadline for all public sector bodies to meet the new accessibility regulations for public sector websites and applications is set for 23 September 2020, with further regulations for private sector compliance expected to follow in due course.
In the USA - Web accessibility regulations are covered under various federal laws including The American Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that companies make accommodations for disabled users with specific regard to web accessibility.
In Norway – It is illegal for commercial websites not to provide equal access for people with disabilities, and fines are issued to companies that do not comply.
In the European Union – The European Accessibility Act requires that all businesses operating in the e-commerce sector meet minimum accessibility requirements.
Worldwide – The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) have been developed to provide a set of core principles and minimum standards to meet the needs of consumers internationally. These guidelines define how content should be made more accessible to those with disabilities, and are the premium standards that should be adopted by organisations globally.
Despite the increase in accessibility guidelines and legislation in recent years, companies around the world are still failing to meet minimum requirements:
- In 2019, an evaluation by WebAIM concluded that 97.8% of homepages failed to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
- 70% of websites in the USA have critical accessibility issues, and web accessibility lawsuits hit a record number in 2019 with 11,053 cases being filed through the federal court. A particularly landmark case was the victory of Guillermo Robles, a blind man who successfully sued Dominos after he was unable to order food on the company’s website.
With this in mind, it is essential that all businesses including commercial companies, educational institutions, non-profit organisations, and governmental bodies are aware of the national and international guidelines that apply to them. Particular attention should be given to developing a thorough understanding of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and ensuring compliance.
Ready to Embrace Accessibility?
You should be! Aside from the financial, ethical, and legal advantages, there’s also a significant feel-good factor associated with inclusivity that boosts morale across an organisation.
If you would like to book a demo of the Recite Me assistive toolbar to help you towards your inclusivity goals and optimise your business for success, please feel free to contact our team. Installations of the Recite Me toolbar onto third party websites supported millions of web users in 2019:
- Over 4.5 million launches of the Recite Me toolbar
- Over 21.5 million accessibility toolbar features used
- Over 9 million website translations in over 100 languages
- Nearly 10 million pieces of content read aloud in 35 languages
- Over 1.4 million styling customisations
- 2,600 audio files downloaded
Try it for Free!
It is vital, especially in the current climate, that information can be understood by everyone, and the demand for accessible and inclusive websites has never been greater. Put simply, service providers and consumers alike must go online more than ever before to conduct their daily business and transactions. Throughout the current pandemic, Recite Me is offering to host a free accessible and inclusive landing page for any business, allowing you to share COVID-19 related messages with your staff and customers.