Web accessibility may not be the first thing you think of when designing a website for your small business, but in the long run, few things could prove more important. Just as a brick-and-mortar store must comply with ADA guidelines to ensure that they can access their facilities regardless of whether they have a disability, business owners, and also web design agencies, must also ensure that those with disabilities have equal access to web content. Failure to make web accessibility has a long-term effect.
What is web accessibility?
Web accessibility refers to the idea that all websites and digital tools should be designed in a way that they can be easily used by individuals with disabilities. To fully access the Internet, many of these individuals need the assistance of a device such as a screen reader.
The number of people in the internet is much greater than most suspect. A report from the World Health Organization 39 million people worldwide are blind, but this is only one of the possibilities for using the internet. According to the United States Census Bureau, almost one in five Americans has a disability, with half of those reporting their disabilities as “severe.” This includes issues such as cognitive disabilities, difficulty hearing and motor impairments. Each of these disabilities can be used to create some content completely inaccessible without additional assistance. For example, video content that does not provide closed captioning or a transcript would not provide equal value for someone who is deaf.
The pitfalls of not designing an accessible website.
When does it fail to meet accessibility standards? For many, this can mean the difference between making a purchase on your website versus going to a competitor. The organization eSSENTIAL Accessibility notes that includes approximately 10 percent of all online spending. While 71 percent of these potential customers will drop to a site that is difficult to use, 90 percent of them will submit a complaint. They will simply go to another place that better suits their needs. This means you could lose money and not even know it.
However, recent headlines have proven to be more of a problem for the company. In a post blog, Gal Vizel, CMO of web-accessibility automation platform accessiBe Notes that celebrity-owned websites are more likely to be subject to lawsuits for failing to provide equal access to those with visual impairments.
But big-name brands are not the only ones at risk of such legal action. As Vizel explains, “The lawsuits related to ADA web accessibility has increased by 183 percent in just one year, from 814 boxes in 2017 to 2285 in 2018. Domino’s Pizza learned this the hard way when it lost to a blind plaintiff had difficulty ordering pizza because the website was not compatible with standard screen reading software. The disabled community has spoken – and we are listening. ”
Ensuring that you meet web-accessibility standards.
Negative public relations, lost customers, and lawsuits are already bad news for a big-name brand. For a small business, this could prove devastating. As such, all small-business owners should work with a web-design team or digital agency to ensure that their site meets ADA-compliant standards.
For example, to improve accessibility for those with visual impairments, you should be sure that you should be able to use it, which converts the content to your streamline navigation, and that you should be able to use it. Those with color blindness or low vision may have trouble navigating a website that does not use adequate color contrast, making it hard to distinguish text and links. Your design should account for these common issues as well.
Visual impairments are far from the only web accessibility issue that you should prioritize. Hand-mobility issues may require the assistance of such tools as keyboard-only navigation. Those who are hard of hearing should be provided with captioning or transcripts for video or audio material. To best serve your audience, you should ensure that your website is compliant with the standards found in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines from the Web Accessibility Initiative.
Ensuring that your website is accessible easily. Despite this, there is no denying that Domino’s would be able to digital content to be accessible than they are now spending attempting to litigate in short, not to mention the lost business from the disabled community stemming from the negative press attention.
Web accessibility is an overwhelming hot-button issue. By making your site accessible to all potential users, you will not be able to use your customer base. Prioritizing web accessibility during the design phase of your website will help your business be better equipped for lasting growth.