One in four Americans has some form of a disability. That means that 25 percent of your target audience might not be able to view or navigate your website if you haven’t considered its accessibility.
Failing to make website accessibility a priority can also mean you could face fines and lawsuits from individuals who are unable to access your website.
Let’s review what website accessibility is and why it matters to your business.
What Is Website Accessibility?
Website accessibility is about making sure that all people can “perceive, understand, navigate and interact with the Web.” This includes people with auditory, visual, cognitive, speech, neurological and physical disabilities.
Additionally, those with disabilities should be able to contribute to the web just like anyone else.
An accessible website provides the necessary details for screen readers to describe what’s on-screen for those with visual disabilities, makes it possible to navigate for those who can’t use a traditional keyboard or mouse, etc.
The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative provides guidelines and resources for people who manage websites. These guidelines provide technical specifications for ensuring that a website is available to everyone. These standards are international to ensure that all people can access the web from anywhere.
Why Website Accessibility Matters
Just like brick-and-mortar stores have accessibility requirements, so does online commerce and browsing. Without such guidelines, businesses might miss out on serving a large population of consumers. Here’s a look at why you should make your website accessible.
- You’ll expand your customer base. When a person with disabilities visits your site, are they able to browse its contents with ease? Or will they constantly come upon areas they can’t view or understand because you haven’t considered your website’s accessibility? If they get there and there’s nothing there for them, they’ll go to your competitors. And your competitors might be better prepared to serve their needs. Now you’ve lost a customer, which you don’t want to do in today’s competitive landscape.
- Lawsuits are far costlier than a website accessibility specialist. In 2018, there were 2,200 website accessibility lawsuits filed. The number of lawsuits continues to rise each year, and companies of all sizes are being forced to pay out large fines and settlements due to their website’s lack of accessibility. In 2019, the Supreme Court ordered Dominoes to pay out a large settlement due to a lack of accessibility of both their website and mobile app. The cost of a lawsuit, even if you win, will be far greater than the cost of making your website accessible now.
- Fewer offline queries. If your website is not accessible, individuals with disabilities might flood your phone lines and get in touch via alternate methods. This can be time-consuming and not have as good of an ROI as website transactions do. Making your website accessible from the start can help reduce these inquiries.
How to Make Your Website Accessible
The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative outlines many rules and regulations for what makes a website accessible. This includes but is not limited to:
- Adding alt text to all images
- Ensuring appropriate color contrast
- Making text resizable
- Creating keyboard accessible graphs and tables
- Not timing out forms and fields
- Not requiring CAPTCHA
- Using specific link anchor text instead of text like “click here”
- Keeping error messages clear and concise
The process can be time-consuming and tedious. It’s often a job that’s best for an expert. Kelly Website Design offers website accessibility services to help you stay compliant with the law and welcome all customers. Contact us to learn more.