In the growing world of digital design, there has recently been a lot of chatter regarding the importance of accessibility.
The number of inquiries our team receive for accessibility elements to be added to new or existing websites has greatly increased over the past year. Some clients have discovered that new legal stipulations require them to have increased accessibility standards. Others want to bring their offerings to a wider audience by creating a more inclusive platform.
“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect”. — Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web
What Is Accessibility?
In order to understand why you should care about accessibility, it’s important to learn what the term means in regards to your web and mobile presence. An accessible digital platform ensures that all users, including folks with disabilities, are able to enjoy complete access to your content. Accessibility allows your site visitors with disabilities to have the full experience without restrictions. These disabilities include (but are not limited to): auditory, visual, intellectual/cognitive, mobility/motor and seizure disorders.
Reasons to Make Your Digital Product Accessible
Here are four of the top reasons accessibility should be in the digital vocabulary of your business or organization:
In the top developed nations in the world, the precedent has been set for government- and state-related web services to be accessible to all citizens. Businesses of all sizes are following suit here in the U.S., as many courts — as well as the Department of Justice — have ruled that the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA for short), applies online. These regulations, along with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, are especially pertinent to community-based small to medium-sized organisations that receive funding from local, state and federal governments, and are most at risk for going out of business from the financial implications of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit. Twenty-three percent of lawsuits related to accessibility since the year 2000 have happened in the last three years, as the right to accessibility becomes much more widely known public knowledge.
Talks have been underway in Mexico regarding this topic since 2006, when an academic group from UdeM expressed concern about a lack of Mexican-based accessibility legislation. Professor Luis Aceves stated, “the web can be the most democratic tool a government has because it allows for direct communication, overcoming geographic, cultural, economic, and hierarchical barriers, as well as those faced by people with disabilities.” He went on to say, “It is the duty of the creators and administrators of these technologies to guide them and improve people’s quality of life.”
The Manifesto on Usability and Accessibility for Mexican Government Websites was presented to the WIS on July 27, 2007, it was signed by three municipalities and 23 Mexican states; and in 2015, the Mexican Government began the process of making all public content accessible.
As Tim Berners-Lee, w3c Director and inventor of the World Wide Web once said, “The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” At Nolte, is it our mission to use our expertise to be proactive and help others to grow. When it comes to important issues such as web accessibility, we strive to have an opinion, own it, and through that- deliver quality.
We encourage all businesses to do the same through increased accessibility of their content. Just as it is commonplace for a business to be accessible physically through the implementation of handicapped parking, ramps, as well as automatic entrances and exits, it is important to ensure all visitors to a business’ online portal can access content regardless of their physical or intellectual disability.
The numbers are staggering: 56.7 million Americans (19 percent) identify as disabled, along with 80 million in the EU. In Mexico, 9.17 million people have been reported as disabled (7.5 percent). By 2050, the aging population will triple to 1.5 billion, bringing another nearly guaranteed increase in certain age-related disabilities. It can be argued that providing access to web and mobile content that spans different ability levels could bring in substantially more revenue for the right outlet.
Lack of accessibility can have financial implications. Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics company was recently sued by a blind customer when she was unable to navigate the business’ web page with her accessibility software. The company wasn’t sued for any sum of money, rather just that they make it accessible to all; however, they lost the sale when this customer, and most likely many more potential customers with disabilities were unable to successfully access the site and make purchases.
Brand reputation is extremely important in today’s market. Inclusion is a hot button issue for many young, urban professionals and millennials — and these are the customers that companies need to reel in now to create lasting relationships with.
How others feel about a business, or how that business is perceived is based upon readily available information, and may not always be perfectly accurate. In the age of social media, the information that is available about a business is often based on the opinions of others. Questions about the accessibility of a business website can easily go viral based on a simple Facebook comment left by a customer unable to access services. Reputation alone is worth ensuring all potential customers and clients can access every aspect of a business’ online presence.
Make Your Products and Services Accessible To All
A precedent has been set within the greater global business world: government agencies, organizations, and businesses alike are striving to make the internet accessible to all. Isn’t it time that you take the next step and increase your business reach, boost your reputation, and keep up with accessibility laws?