As technology advances, it’s helping to solve problems and bring relief to a wide number of people with disabilities. Advances in prosthetic limbs, new therapies or surgical techniques, and improved motorized scooters have proven that technology can be used for good.
But one area where technology is falling behind is website accessibility. For many disabled people across the world, the internet is simply inaccessible. That barrier takes a significant toll on their lives.
Fortunately, the field of web accessibility was formed to counter this problem and make a real difference in the lives of disabled people. But how does that intersect with your business?
What is Web Accessibility?
Today, there are 61 million Americans with a disability. That’s about one in four adults, which is a significant number of our population. People with disabilities face obstacles in their daily life, and one of the challenges they have to constantly confront is website accessibility.
Nearly every part of our lives are online these days. Banking, job hunting, grocery shopping, even dating. But if your disability makes it difficult or even impossible to use a website or app, then you’re at a severe disadvantage.
For example, if someone has poor eyesight, they may have trouble reading light text on a light background. Someone who uses a wheelchair may not be able to reach a keyboard to type. Someone with a chronic condition might not be able to reliably use a mouse.
Website accessibility is an approach to web design that focuses on making websites accessible to everyone. It attempts to address the serious issues disabled people face and give everyone a fair and decent experience online.
What are Web Accessibility Guidelines?
Around the globe, various governments have enacted accessibility guidelines and standards for the web. These guidelines are meant to equalize the field and give disabled and impaired people access to the web.
In the US, federal, state, and local governments, websites are required to follow accessibility guidelines. Public websites, however, have no such mandate. If a disabled person can’t use a public website, they have to take the issue to court and cite the ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act.
90% of websites don’t meet web accessibility guidelines or ADA compliance. That means most websites fail to address the needs of a large portion of our populace. Businesses without accessible websites aren’t meeting their customers’ needs, and they may end up hurting their business in the long run. That’s why it’s so important for businesses to implement web accessibility best practices.
Why is Website Accessibility Important?
1. Improves User Experience
The number one reason why accessible websites are important is that they vastly improve the user experience. Disabled people aren’t the only ones who will benefit from an easy-to-use website with legible text and intuitive navigation. Almost everyone can enjoy the benefits of a well-designed website.
When you improve UX or user experience, your customers will feel more satisfied. They’ll be more loyal and have better associations with your brand. As a result, you’re likely to experience better sales. In fact, for every $1 you put into better UX, you’ll get a $100 ROI (return on investment).
2. Boosts Public Relations
Website accessibility can go a long way toward fostering positive relationships with the public. When you show your customers that you truly care about making a difference, you’ll likely have a stronger public relations presence. Your reputation and brand affinity might increase.
3. Increases Sales
It’s simple math, really. The more people can use your site, the more chances you have of making a sale. When you make your website accessible to a wider group of prospective customers, you’re expanding your potential market share.
4. Supports SEO
SEO (search engine optimization) is a marketing strategy that revolves around optimizing your site and content to show up in search engines. The idea is to get in front of as many relevant eyeballs as possible.
SEO and website accessibility overlap in a beautiful way. People without sight use screen readers to access websites. To accommodate this technology and make images accessible, web accessibility guidelines recommend using alt text.
Alt text is a piece of HTML code tied to a specific image that describes what the image looks like. That way, when someone using a screen reader comes across an image on a website, the screen reader will describe what the image looks like.
In addition to making the web more enjoyable for people with disabilities, alt text is also helpful for SEO. Including keywords in alt text boosts SEO and increases a page’s chance of appearing on the first page of search results.
So when you include alt text on your website, you’re not only increasing your website accessibility. You’re also building up your SEO.
5. Avoids Lawsuits
There are millions of small businesses in the US that can’t afford to fight a legal battle. If your public business website doesn’t follow web accessibility guidelines, you’re at risk of litigation. If you don’t want to go through a court case, then it’s best to be proactive. Start addressing your website accessibility now to prevent a lawsuit from occurring.
Create Inclusive, Accessible Websites
Change can start with you. If your business doesn’t have an accessible website, you can begin the process today. When you build an accessible website, your business will enjoy an enhanced user experience, better PR, more sales, stronger SEO, and a decreased risk of lawsuits. With all those benefits, it just makes sense to invest in the best website for your business.
Not sure where to get started? The agencies in our list provide world-class website development and design for hundreds of clients a year. Having a broad range of expertise in different industries, coding languages, and platforms, they can create a fully accessible, custom website that achieves your marketing and business goals. View our list to learn more.