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What is Website Accessibility & Why Do Businesses Need It?

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An overview of website accessibility and how it helps businesses maximize profits, increase customer loyalty and avoid lawsuits

Have you ever wondered how somebody who’s blind gets all the latest news online? Or how someone with cerebral palsy does all their shopping on the internet? Or even how a person with impaired hearing enjoys videos across the web?

These are all possible because of web accessibility.

Website Accessibility maintains that everyone should be able to use any website on the internet—despite any condition that affects physical or mental capabilities. 

For this to happen, sites must be designed and developed with different abilities in mind. But did you know that 71% of websites are unusable by people with disabilities? And with 1 billion people worldwidewith a disability (think autism, ADHD, deafness and more), inaccessible websites are dramatically costing businesses.

This rings even more true in today’s world where businesses make their name on delighting customers and providing excellent customer service. As such, web accessibility is crucial in creating an inclusive environment for customers and making them feel welcome from the moment they Google your name.

What is Website Accessibility?

According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), web accessibility means that websites, tools and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them just as those who are fully able can. 

Although there are various conditions that impact how one can interact online, a few common groups include:

  • Visual Impairment (blindness, color blindness)
  • Hearing Impairment (full and partial deafness)
  • Motor Skills & Physical Disabilities (paralysis and multiple sclerosis)
  • Cognitive Disabilities (dyslexia, brain injuries, memory loss)

To work around these barriers, many people use assistive technologies to interact online. This includes voice recognition software that converts speech into text, screen readers that vocalize text on a webpage, head wands, braille terminals and alternative keyboards for special needs.

a group of elderly people sitting on a couch looking at a cell phone

However, inaccessible websites don’t only affect those with serious impairments. They also impact older adults with changing abilities, like termbling hands, lower vision, short term memory loss, due to aging, people with temporary disabilities (such as a broken wrist), users browsing on smartphones, TVs and other devices, and those with situational limitations (such as in direct sunlight or in quiet or loud places where they cannot listen to audio). 

Why Do Businesses Need an Accessible Website?

Not only are ALL websites legally mandated to be accessible, accessible websites benefit everyone. They’re about creating a digital experience to ensure that your business is reachable by all. The business advantages of having an accessible website are enormous. They help businesses to:

Reach Markets That You’re Currently Missing Out On

If you haven’t designed your website with accessibility in mind, you’re automatically excluding a massive chunk of potential customers from your business.

Think about it. These are people who want to interact with your brand, but they can’t engage with your content, learn about your story, or understand your offerings. 

A website optimized for accessibility by certified experts removes these barriers to communication that are faced by over 1 billion disabled people worldwide (with an estimated spending power of $7 trillion). This opens the door to millions of prospective customers—allowing your business to widen its reach to a broader audience and maximize profits.

Website accessibility leads to an increase in overall site traffic by 12% on average! Google and other search engines also rank accessible websites higher than inaccessible ones. The algorithms are more likely to show websites that deliver a better user experience for everyone—meaning a big bump in organic search traffic can be expected. 

Increase Customer Loyalty

a man and woman standing at the counter of a coffee shop

Successful businesses understand the importance of excellent customer service. Today, this includes making your customers feel welcome from the moment they discover your business online. Having an accessible website is the ideal first impression—and it shouldn’t be considered optional.

When you give your customers the high-touch service they deserve, they’ll certainly feel compelled to do business with you in the future. And it all begins with a great online experience. 

At its core, web accessibility is about equality and ensuring that everybody has fair access to the internet. On a broader scale, it’s about making sure your business is fostering an inclusive environment, which resonates with all customers.

In today’s world, customers are conscientious and want to align themselves with brands that have a sense of social responsibility. By promoting digital accessibility, you’re also meeting the social demands for inclusivity. Topics like sustainability and diversity have become crucial over the past decade—and accessibility is here to stay. 

Avoid Costly Lawsuits

Website accessibility, commonly known as ADA compliance, is now required by law in many places across the globe, including the U.S. Many governments across the world are stepping up to ensure that all public facing websites are accessible to all users—similar to how wheelchair ramps are required for buildings. 

This also means that there are stiff penalties and legal fees for those who don’t comply. Inaccessible websites that don’t meet specific legal standards open up your business to lawsuits from customers who had a poor experience and to predatory lawyers.

The bottom line? It’s now a wise business decision to treat website accessibility as a legal necessity rather than a “nice to have” option. 

Is Your Website Accessible?

Web accessibility can be a confusing topic—but it all boils down to creating an inclusive experience for your customers. 

However, accessible websites need to be coded according to specific guidelines by certified technicians. Or your existing site code needs to be fixed for accessibility.  At Access Design Studio, we’re the world’s leading expert in accessible websites. 

Book A Complimentary Accessibility Review

Want to see if your website is accessible? Book a complimentary accessibility review.

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Picture of Denise Páne <br><span>CEO & Founder</span>

Denise Páne
CEO & Founder

Denise is an Accredited Accessibility Expert with a lifetime of experience with people with disabilities and over 2 decades of experience at the helm of her branding and accessible web design agency, Access Design Studio. She is a passionate outdoorswoman and bold adventurer in life and business.

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