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 essential 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 organization, 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. Plus, there is an abundance of information and statistics that refute the argument that return on investment is too difficult to measure to warrant the outlay required:
- The online spending power of people with access needs in Canada is $50 billion.
- 73% of disabled customers experience barriers on more than one in four websites (Purple).
- 75% of disabled people and their families have walked away from a business because of poor accessibility or customer service (Purple).
- 83% of people with access needs limit their shopping to sites that they know are accessible (Purple).
- 82% of users with access needs would spend more if there were fewer barriers (ClickAway Pound).
- 83% of people with access needs limit their shopping to sites that they know are accessible (ClickAway Pound).
- 71% of users leave a site that they find hard to use (ClickAway Pound).
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, less 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:
- 22% of the Canadian population has a disability that can make accessing information online difficult.
- Approximately one million Canadians have a learning difficulty.
- It is estimated that 15% to 20% of Canadians have dyslexia.
- 24.6% of our population speak English as a second language
- At least 1.5 million Canadians have some form of sight loss.
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 to avoid lawsuits, companies are required to adhere to national and international standards and guidelines.
In Canada, The Accessible Canada Act (ACA) requires all Government of Canada websites and web applications to conform to World Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA. In addition, several individual provinces have their own accessibility acts. Examples include:
- The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
- The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA)
- The Nova Scotia Accessibility Act
The World 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 organizations should adopt globally.
Despite the increase in accessibility guidelines and legislation in recent years, companies worldwide are still failing to meet minimum requirements. 2022 evaluations by WebAIM conclude that 96.8% of homepages fail to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
With this in mind, it is essential that all businesses, including commercial companies, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, 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 organization.
Installations of the Recite Me toolbar onto third-party websites support millions of web users. Our most recent 12-month stats show that:
- Over 3.3 million people used our toolbar
- Over 18.5 million web pages were accessed
- Individual styling features were activated over 4.1 million times
- Users viewed an average of 5.62 pages per session, compared to the average website journey of just 2.8.
- Over 33.8 million pieces of online content were read aloud using our on-screen reader.
- Over 13.5 million pieces of online content were translated into another language.