According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of four adult Americans has a disability. And while the World Wide Web should be one of life’s greatest equalizers, barriers still exist that prevent people with disabilities from accessing the same information, goods, and services that the rest of the population enjoy.
Given that 10% of total online spending comes from customers with disabilities, any business that wants to succeed needs to take this group of customers seriously. Obviously, web accessibility should be a priority. Web accessibility means that a business’ digital products, services, tools, and website must be accessible and usable by everyone, even for those with disabilities.
1) WHY INVEST IN ACCESSIBILITY?
Ensuring that all your customers, old and new, are able to avail of your goods and services online is plain good business sense. Plus, it’s the moral thing to do. But there are other reasons why you should invest in web accessibility for your business.
Increased reputation of your brand
If your business is accessible online, it shows how much you care about your customers. You understand that their needs are diverse and you are committed to making sure that your business is inclusive, not exclusive. In your eyes, they all matter. All of these help build up a positive brand image in the eyes of the community. Not only that, it helps increase customer loyalty.
Protection of your business from a lawsuit
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design, your website, as well as digital products and services, need to be accessible to all, including those with disabilities. You are required by law to provide an online experience that does not discriminate against them. For example, a person who is hearing impaired needs to be able to perceive all the information on your website, including that provided through video. This means that your video should have captions or a transcript. If not, then you’ll be violating ADA compliance and be vulnerable to a lawsuit. In 2018 alone, there were 2,285 lawsuits filed against companies because of a lack of web accessibility.
More recommendations of services and products
As we’ve already mentioned, people with disabilities make up a significant portion of the market. In the US alone, consumers with disabilities spend over $200 billion on just non-essential items alone. 54% of these consumers shop online. With web accessibility, you ensure an improved customer experience and a more positive reputation. Both of these result in recommendations. Your current customers are more likely to recommend you to friends and family which, naturally, will lead to more visibility and a boost in sales.
2) CREATING ACCESSIBLE CONTENT: 3 ELEMENTS TO PAY ATTENTION TO
Be clear with the content
To ensure that your content is accessible to all, you need to make it clear and concise. What does this mean? It means that you use simple language and formatting. Make your content easy to read and understand. Below are some tips on how to write accessible content:
- Write in short, clear sentences and paragraphs.
- Don’t use complex words and phrases that are not necessary to make your point. If it is unavoidable, provide your readers with a glossary of terms.
- Always expand acronyms when you use them in your content for the first time.
- Use list formatting when appropriate.
- Make use of images, drawings, symbols, video, and audio to help clarify your meaning.
Use Alt tags for images
Alternate text, also called ALT text, is a short description of what an image is about. This is important because it allows those with visual impairments to be able to perceive any images on your website using assistive technology such as a screen reader. Make sure that the ALT text is clear, concise, and informative.
Write meaningful headings
Headings are a perfect way to put some structure to your content. Meaningful headings do more than just provide an outline to your readers. It can quickly inform them what each section contains. More importantly, for users who rely on screen readers, it allows them to easily navigate to the sections that they want to read. Without headings, the screen reader will read the text from top to bottom which can be frustrating.
3) MAKE PDFS & DOCUMENTS ACCESSIBLE
It’s not just the text on your website that you need to make accessible. Any documents that you offer online or send to your customers via email should be accessible to all. What this means is that your documents must be readable using assistive technology such as connected Braille displays. In addition, the content should be simple enough that even those with cognitive disorders can understand it.
Obviously, your company will have documents that are not yet accessible since they were created before your current initiative started. In order to ensure accessibility, these documents will need to undergo document remediation. This process, which is similar to PDF remediation, is when you evaluate your existing documents to see if they meet the standards of accessibility.
More people read your content
There are several advantages to making your documents accessible. One of these is that it improves usability for all. People will be able to view it easily on various devices which means that more people will be able to read your content including those that need to use assistive technologies.
Effectively include more people into your target group
As we’ve mentioned before, a percentage of your target market is made up of people with disabilities. With accessible documents, you ensure that people with disabilities will be able to understand and navigate your content. This enables you to effectively reach that group and add them to your current target audience. That’s around 15 to 20% of website users in the US!
4) REACH CLIENTS WITH AN ACCESSIBILITY ISSUE
Expansion of your niche
Like we said before, adopting web accessibility can help widen your reach. You’ll be able to expand your target group to include a niche market – one that caters to the specific needs, demands, and preferences of individuals with disabilities.
Include disability-specific products in your line
Of course, you don’t stop there. You can think about providing products and/or services specifically to serve that niche market. Not only are you helping improve the lives of these people, but you’re also creating a new source of revenue for your business.
Create a better user experience
When you focus on accessibility issues, you end up improving everyone’s user experience. Not just for those who have disabilities. For example, captions enable those with hearing impairments to understand what’s happening in a video. This same feature allows people to watch videos in both quiet and noisy environments. Now, when you have a great user experience, your customers are happier. They remain loyal. And they tell others about it.
Ensuring the accessibility of your website as well as your digital products and services is not just about protecting your business from expensive lawsuits. Accessibility in design improves user experience which increases customer loyalty. It also ensures you are able to reach more customers. Moreover, your customers will most likely recommend your company to others. Simply put, any effort you put into making your business accessible to all means an increase in sales all around.