A company’s online reputation is gold, especially when you consider just how many customers use the web as their first port of call when researching organizations they want to do business with.
And with the digital world being such an integral part of business strategies, it’s no wonder web accessibility has become a pressing topic.
In the United States alone, 61 million adults are living with a disability and rely on the web to perform daily tasks, source information, and access resources.
Unfortunately, countless disabled adults are still encountering barriers online, making it far more difficult to enjoy equal opportunities.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were created to remove these barriers. Using these standards, businesses can ensure their websites cater to all users, including those with disabilities.
Web accessibility is one of the most important issues facing businesses in the digital world today. However, this doesn’t mean that all business owners have a full understanding of what it entails and the benefits of complying.
WCAG is maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and is used to evaluate whether any given site is creating online barriers for disabled users. This includes people living with visual, hearing, motor, and cognitive impairments.
Disabled adults are still encountering barriers online, making it far more difficult to enjoy equal opportunities.
When WCAG first became common knowledge through legislation such as ADA compliance, many businesses started reacting in fear. This is because non-compliance was often linked to costly lawsuits.
Unfortunately, a number of businesses are still attaching fear to compliance, which leads to hasty actions and a poor approach to accessibility.
WCAG should not be seen as just another goal to achieve for the sake of avoiding lawsuits. Instead, businesses should be using these standards to do their part to create a more inclusive experience for their customers, which can also have a positive knock-on effect strategically.
Prioritizing web accessibility is essential if your business has an online presence, but it can also help you achieve your objectives.
Here are some of the positive impacts of an inclusivity mindset.
What do potential clients see when they find your brand online? Perhaps they find an eye-catching website, but what sort of experience will they have when they start to use it?
Brands that don’t embrace accessibility could be damaging their reputations without even realizing it. People living with disabilities are paying attention to how brands approach accessibility—and they won’t hesitate to form a negative opinion if accessible accommodations aren’t made!
A survey by Accessible by Design found that people living with any form of disability are highly likely to form a negative opinion about a brand if it failed in ensuring accessibility. Respondents reported that they felt disconnected from the brand because it appeared unreliable and lacked positive qualities.
A brand’s reputation extends beyond just a website though. What people are saying about you online also matters. Businesses want to partner with companies that match their values and are doing their due diligence far more thoroughly than ever before.
All too often, businesses that clearly lack a genuine sense of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) could be overlooked by top employees and potential corporate clients.
Adopting an inclusivity mindset drives diversity and inclusion, sparking positive emotions and boosting your brand’s reputation.
Even though web accessibility is a social responsibility, non-compliance can still land your business in hot water.
Most global accessibility legislation clearly states that businesses with websites are legally required to accommodate those with disabilities.
And even though a handful of acts, including the ADA, are not as clear as they could be when it comes to web accessibility, this hasn’t stopped ambulance-chasing lawyers from pursuing businesses anyway.
Businesses of all sizes have been at the receiving end of demand letters, which can be both costly and damaging. Even educational institutions like Cornell University and Drexel University USA, among several others, have been hit with accessibility lawsuits.
Large corporations have a much easier time recovering from lawsuits of this nature, but small to medium-sized organizations might not fare as well.
Complying with web accessibility requirements protects your business against unnecessary lawsuits with far-reaching negative effects.
If you market your brand online, you will know just how fierce competition can be, but with the right marketing tactics, it’s possible to broaden your reach.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex topic, but, when done right, it can get your brand in front of more of the right people. Usability and accessibility are critical for SEO success.
The more people spend time on your site, the more it indicates to leading search engines like Google, that your site is relevant and easy to use. This results in better search engine rankings and a higher chance that more of your target audience will see your site before those of your competitors.
There are a number of other commonalities between SEO and accessibility too, all of which can help you access a wider audience, while also highlighting your business’s commitment to inclusivity.
Web accessibility is an investment in the future of your business and doesn’t need to be a complex undertaking. You don’t even need to have an internal developer to take the next steps.
There’s a wide range of online accessibility tools available and there are countless design, development, and marketing agencies that specialize in web accessibility for you to work with.
Choosing to prioritize web accessibility doesn’t mean you need to redesign your entire site either, even though it could be an ideal opportunity to do so.
Simply auditing your existing site to identify accessibility issues and taking steps to rectify them is enough to start your journey and become compliant.
However, redesigning your site allows you to rethink and revamp your site’s functionality and intuitiveness, creating a better user experience overall.
In closing, adopting an inclusivity mindset doesn’t just help you avoid unnecessary and damaging lawsuits. It also emphasizes your business’s commitment to social responsibility, equipping you for long-term success in an evolving digital world.
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