You may have heard about web accessibility in the news and the various interpretations around this subject. When it comes to accessibility, many businesses are not well informed about its importance. Consequently, they do not consider taking basic accessibility steps during the development phase of their websites.
As a service business, all of your potential clients need to be able to access and use your website successfully, Implementing the standards of web accessibility is crucial for any business. It can protect you from costly lawsuits, help you pass the ADA compliance audit, increase brand awareness and so much more.
What Is Web Accessibility All About?
Web page accessibility is more than just plainly accessing and navigating the web. The internet was built on the idea of giving equal opportunity to all users. This revolves around the concept of usability for all, which means that even people with physical impairments can access web content just like people with no disabilities.
Web accessibility is simply ensuring that the functionality and content of your website can be accessed by all regardless of physical barriers. Aside from permanent disability, the web should also be easily navigable to people with other forms of disabilities such as temporary, situational or conditional disabilities.
Why is Web Accessibility Important for Business?
It's about brand building—having an accessible website is equal to broadcasting to the world that your business is inclusive, attentive to all customers, respective of best practices, and in line with the times.
This practice will highlight the quality of your brand and will most likely attract customers and partners who want to be part of a good culture. On the contrary, a lack of accessibility can be a reputation killer.
Domino's Pizza Case and the ADA
In this age of digital technology, it can be argued that web accessibility can be equated to a civil right for people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is local legislation that requires private and public institutions to provide equal access to public services and "places of public accommodation" to people with limitations. The ADA regulation is broad enough that its interpretation extends into the online world.
In previous web accessibility cases, it has been decided that inaccessible websites may violate the ADA. Such as the case brought by a blind man who sued pizza giant Domino's Pizza after he was unable to order food on its website and mobile app despite the use of a screen reading software.
The case, however, was decided in favor of the plaintiff as the inaccessibility of Domino's website and its app can be considered a violation of the ADA as it hinders access to goods or services.
How to Avoid Lawsuits
The number of web accessibility/ADA-related lawsuits has been rapidly growing. Several high-profile cases as well, such as the accessibility lawsuit against the website of Beyoncé, have raised the visibility and awareness of accessibility/ADA-related cases.
As a service business, if you want to avoid claims of discrimination and legal action, then start to implement and follow web accessibility guidelines such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Alternatively, you can obtain a Letter of Reasonable Accessibility to claim that your website has been audited and has made reasonable accommodations for people with differing abilities.
web accessibility benefits for your business
The most obvious benefit of web accessibility is that it helps people with disabilities to easily access and navigate your website's content, products, and services. However, the advantages of web accessibility aren't limited to their immediate impact on people with disabilities—it does benefit your business in many other ways, too:
1. Reaching a Wider Audience
Making your site accessible is simply good business sense. It doesn't have to be perfect; a few common-sense modifications can go a long way toward helping people with disabilities use your site. Features such as adding transcripts and closed captions, support for mobile devices, and site design will be beneficial for all users regardless of any disability.
2. Build Positive Public Relations
When you take a stand on web accessibility, you showcase a positive brand image for your organization. This makes it more appealing for clients to support you and recommend you to their connections.
3. Broaden Your Market Penetration
Inaccessible sites exclude around 15-20% of potential clients. Conversely, if you make your site accessible, you broaden your market penetration. Endeavoring for web accessibility boosts your revenue sales and your brand's visibility on the web.
4. Help Grow Your Business
Your website represents your business online. Aside from the aforementioned benefits, people with disabilities are commonly associated with different organizations, and your business will enjoy free marketing within these organizations.
5. Improve Your SEO
Web accessibility does more than making your site more usable. It also makes your site more likely to be found by improving your SEO. While the exact details of how pages are ranked in Google are never fully-revealed, making your site accessible is one of the best SEO practices that nearly all digital marketers can agree on.
Web Accessibility Standards to be Considered for Your Business
When maintaining or developing a website, aim for inclusive design. See also that your site or digital products' work well with assistive technologies. Start by considering the basic standards of web accessibility.
1. Enable Keyboard Navigation for Web Design
Enable keyboard navigation for your website so that users can navigate it even without a mouse. Enabling full keyboard navigation helps everyone suffering from any type of disability, especially those with limited motor movements. At its most basic, an accessible website should work without the need to use a mouse.
2. Prioritize Text Clarity
Make sure to prioritize the clarity of letters and text blocks on your web content. Doing so will help those with visual problems to easily understand your web content.
3. Don't Rely Exclusively on Color
Don't rely solely on color as color-blind users won't be able to recognize your content. A good practice is to add labels to explain what the feature is for. Likewise, it would help if you also were careful with color contrast.
4. Order Content in HTML for Screen Readers
5. Explanatory Link Text
An explanatory text link helps your visitors differentiate one link from the other. Describing all your links in text is especially helpful for those using assistive technologies. It's also a good practice to underline all your clickable links.
6. Use a 44×44 pt. clickable area for Touch Controls
Refrain from using small clickable target size for touch controls as many people with disabilities, including those with large finger sizes, will find it frustrating to use. The recommended size for touch controls is 44×44 pt., as it's desirable for all finger sizes and cooperative with assistive devices.
7. Do Not Forget to Follow the Accessibility Checklist
The accessibility checklist is a comprehensive guide in making an accessible website. Internationally recognized guidelines such as WCAG and ADA Best Practices Toolkit should be your go-to resources.
Accessibility Guide and Accessibility Statement
Accessibility guide and accessibility statement are your deliberate declaration of your intention to install web accessibility standards. Publishing an accessibility statement shows that you're committed to making your site accessible. This indicates that you intend to include accessibility features on your site to make it usable to everyone.
One of the best practices in publishing an Accessibility Guide and Statement is to make it concise yet substantive. Moreover, it would be best if you linked it in the footer of all your pages.
Service businesses should pass the ADA compliance audit and diligently implement the standards of web accessibility. Doing so protects them from costly litigation. Moreover, aiming for an accessible site provides them with several benefits aside from positive public perception.
About the Author: David Gevorkian started Be Accessible because of his passion for website accessibility and ADA compliance. He spent much of his career working for financial institutions creating websites and mobile applications. He earned his Master’s in Business Administration from Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. David is an advocate for creating web interfaces usable by all people. He enjoys recording music and playing soccer with friends.