Accessibility is Good for Business

icons for sight hearing, cognitive and mobility
You’ve built your company with dedication and vision. The marketplace has been competitive, so you strategically applied the marketing and branding tools you learned or hired someone to do it for you. You included a website in your marketing toolkit and made it attractive so visitors would like it, learn about you and hire you or buy from you. Then over time, or one day, you learned that you could and should do more. Your website needs to be more than just a pretty face. It needs to be Accessible, functional and legal. Notice that Accessible is first in this list. If your website isn’t Accessible, then it fails at the other two.

Can creating your website to include Accessibility increase profits?

Can you measure how much money businesses are losing out on because of a non-Accessible website?
Can profits be lost by designers who are not including Accessibility in their services?
The answer to all of the above is “Yes.”
Watch Sumner’s Presentation on YouTube, first seen during WordPress Accessibility day 2020: Show Me the Money

Designing an Accessible website means that you design a website that is INCLUSIVE for all users. It’s not adding a quick mask to make it have the illusion of Accessibility. It’s adding features, content and design that works for everyone, not just any select group. When you understand “curb-cut effect“, you recognize how important an Accessible website is for your business.
“Web accessibility features designed for the 20% of the population with disabilities can also be used by the other 80% of the population. Anyone can be affected by a situational disability where they would benefit from accessibility features.” Source: Web Accessibility Initiative.

Making your website Accessible will:

  • Broaden your reach in the marketplace to include more audiences.
  • Increase traffic to your website.
  • Improve your site and increase usability for all visitors.
  • Generate new referrals.
  • Generate positive PR and brand awareness.
  • Demonstrate a commitment and care for people with disabilities.
  • Protect your brand.
  • Mitigate the potential of a costly lawsuit.

An estimated 48.9 million people, or 19.4% have a disability. ( source: (NSIP) The actual numbers may vary due to many factors which include temporary disabilities and disabilities caused by sudden accidents or illness. Then consider the segment of the population whose sight, hearing and mobility may change as they age.

Design for Inclusiveness

A well designed website will not only make it Accessible to persons with disabilities, it will also make it better overall. Some of the features that make a site Accessible also boost SEO and mobile responsiveness.

A few examples:
Adding alternative descriptions to all your images, not only makes it Accessible for screen readers, it also provides text when someone’s browser, or your server, doesn’t load your stylesheet. The best alternative image text is that which supports your content. It can also boost your SEO.

Adding real-time captioning to your videos not only makes it Accessible for deaf persons to receive the message in your video, the captions help when a hearing person is sitting in a noisy environment, or in an area where they need to be quiet. When audio starts when your user automatically lands on your page it is intrusive and annoying. For Accessibility, your audio, whether an audio player or a video needs to have a control where the user can stop or start it. This also makes your site user friendly to all visitors.

Designing with the correct structure not only helps the screen reader announce the important parts on your page, it makes it easier for the sighted person who is skimming your website. Good structured content also boosts your SEO.

web content accessibility guidelinesWhen a web designer understands and follows the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the end result is a website that is Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust. Following all the technical guidelines can make your website Accessible, however, your target market needs to be kept in consideration in order to have the best design.

It’s important to understand your customer.

Some designers will create sites that they like and not consider the client’s target market.

Example: A business over was referred to us to “fix” his website. He said it was not accessible to his customers and his web designer was not listening to him. This company was offering a product for people who had had headaches from a traumatic brain injury and people who suffered with migraines. His product was for a very specific niche market. At first glance of his website I remarked about the amount of red on the site. This client went on to explain that red is a trigger for his customer base and it has to be used sparingly. Overuse of it was causing visitors to bounce off his site after a few seconds. By removing the overuse of red and balancing a better color combination and contrast, this client felt his website better served his customer base, and his traffic reports seem to support that.

Anther Example. Redesigning a website for a long time client, he wanted to change to his favorite colors. When advised that the colors were not the best choice for his website, he wanted more feedback. We walked around his office showing various employees the new color ideas and getting feedback. When we approached his partner asking for feedback on colors, his partner remarked, “Don’t ask me, I’m color blind.” Color blindness is a deficiency in the way a person sees color. Approximately 1 in 12 men (8%) and 1 in 200 women in the world are color vision deficient.

A well designed website will have a clear selection of colors that cause a positive reaction in the visitor. From a design perspective, there are several ways to test for best color combinations. There are color and contrast ratios for color, that when used properly can make your website more attractive, welcoming and portray your brand clearly.

Sumner and her team receive referrals from attorneys and other web designers when a website needs to be remediated to be Accessible. They strive to make their clients’ websites meet Web Contact Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA, and AAA when feasible.

Sumner Davenport regularly speaks to businesses about the value of an “Accessible” website. She also presents at small business events and at web designer education events.  She consults with other designers to make their clients websites better, and she teaches do-it-your-selfers with hands-on workshops on Accessibility.

To learn more about Accessibility, we offer presentations, webinars and public events for businesses and web designers.

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