Web accessibility ensures that people with disabilities can access the internet just as those who are fully able. That’s why legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was implemented—so that everyone can participate in all aspects of society.
Most businesses understand the ethical and moral responsibilities they have to create an inclusive environment for its customers. But is there a business case for accessibility?
From a business perspective, web accessibility is a no-brainer. Having a functional, legal and usable website directly leads to increased revenue, enhanced brand image, and a better customer experience—all while protecting your business from the sharp rise in costly accessibility lawsuits.
So what is the business case for web accessibility? Let’s break that down.
Strengthen Your Bottom Line
Many business owners are surprised to see how an accessible website directly leads to increased revenue. But it makes sense when you consider that 25% of the U.S. population has a disability that hampers their ability to use the internet. That accounts for 61 million people in the US. On a global scale, that number exceeds 1 billion.
Combine that with the fact that 72% of disabled customers are forced to abandon a website (and a potential purchase) if it’s difficult to navigate according to Usable. Not only does that equate to lost sales and reservations, but the excluded users are going to a direct competitor as a default.
It doesn’t stop there, however. A website optimized for accessibility also drastically boosts your SEO efforts. Google, Bing and other search engines reward sites that provide a great user experience to all online visitors, and punish ones that don’t. If users are constantly having issues on your website, the algorithm will bring down your ranking in the search results.
There’s currently a large audience of consumers that want to buy your products and services but are unable to do so because your website isn’t usable to them. Instead, an accessible website maximizes your marketing and sales efforts to make them as efficient as possible. It will allow your business to capture the 25% of market share it’s currently missing out on—giving them a pathway to purchasing your products or services.
By prioritizing web accessibility, business owners can expect to see lower bounce rates, more traffic and a higher number of conversions.
Avoid Costly Accessibility Lawsuits & Legal Fines
The increasing importance of digital media in our day-to-day lives means that there are more laws that protect those with disabilities than ever before. In addition to the ADA, new legislation has been enacted across the world, such as the European Accessibility Act and Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act.
A side effect of these new laws is a dramatic increase in expensive lawsuits and legal penalties across the U.S. It’s happened to several well-known enterprises, highlighted by the famous Domino’s case, but also the NBA, Netflix, Toys “R” Us, Charles Schwab, H&R Block, Target and more.
So what businesses are required to be accessible? All of them. And organizations that contract with federal agencies or receive federal funding must meet a higher level of accessibility compliance by law. These lawsuits and fines are often financially crippling, especially for small businesses.
Instead, you can protect your organization from legal risk by working with accredited technicians to adjust your website according to official standards like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1. These guidelines were created to meet the online needs of those with disabilities and are used as an international baseline for compliance.
It’s a sensible investment because the penalties and lawsuits can be very damaging—a trend that isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
Enhance Your Brand Through Inclusivity
The core of web accessibility is about improving the quality of life for real people. It provides equal opportunity for everyone to participate in society—giving a voice to those with disabilities and other conditions.
Awareness around inclusivity and accessibility is increasing rapidly, but not only among web developers and business owners. The modern consumer expects the brands they do business with to embody the same values, have a sense of social responsibility, and lead the charge in creating a better world. Companies like Apple and Nike are constantly praised for their thought leadership on topics like diversity, privacy and sustainability. And accessibility is next in line.
A well-integrated accessibility plan and commitment can do wonders for your brand image and resonates with all customers. In addition to reaching those with disabilities, you will also strike a chord with their massive network of family and friends who are personally sympathetic to the cause. It humanizes your brand and delivers a huge boost to the customer experience.
Those who fail to prioritize accessibility show an unwillingness (or ignorance) to adjust to their customers’ needs, which can cause lasting damage. Just take a look at Domino’s, who will forever be known as the company that argued against a blind man in court for four years—and lost.
Just as bad accessibility practices harm brands, good ones will help it. Inclusivity is here to stay. And by truly serving the needs of your consumers, you’re future proofing your business and creating a brand that will stand the test of time.
Is Your Website Accessible?
Not only do we all share a responsibility in creating an inclusive world, but it’s also a sensible business investment.
The digital world we live in has pushed us to ensure the online experiences we provide are inclusive of all people. Our increasing reliance on all-things digital and an aging population mean that this is a trend that’s only exponentially increasing.