The internet has become an indispensable tool for many of us. It is where we get information, connect with friends and family, and conduct business. However, not everyone has equal access to the web. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 1 billion people have some form of disability, and many of them have difficulty accessing the internet due to the lack of web accessibility. This is why web accessibility matters, and in this blog, we will delve into the reasons why it is so important.
For those who care about ethics with regard to their work, the importance of accessibility is easy to understand. If you put your time and resources into making things more accessible on your website, disabled people are going to have an easier time utilizing it.
What is Web Accessibility?
Web accessibility refers to the design of websites and web applications that make them usable by people with disabilities, including visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive disabilities. This includes features such as alt text for images, captions for videos, and keyboard navigation for those who cannot use a mouse.
The goal of web accessibility is to ensure that everyone has equal access to the information and services available on the web, regardless of their ability. The vast majority of the internet is much harder to navigate for those who have relevant disabilities, but if enough people decide to put in the work the internet can be a more welcoming place.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all public entities and private businesses with more than 15 employees are required to provide equal access to their services, including their websites. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in costly lawsuits and negative publicity for the business. This is not only a legal obligation but also a moral obligation to provide equal access to information and services for people with disabilities.
In Georgia, we do not yet have any such laws. However, given how fast the digital world is evolving it is very likely that neglecting aspects of accessibility is going to become quite damaging to an online-business. Besides, As the population ages, the number of individuals with disabilities will increase.
By making your website accessible now, you are preparing your website for the future and ensuring that it will continue to meet the needs of all users. If your organization does manage to be around for a long time, it will likely have a dedicated audience. Which means that large segments of that audience are going to be aging, hence more likely to have some sort of disability.
On top of that, people with disabilities are more likely to return to websites that are accessible and usable for them. By providing an accessible user experience, you can improve user retention and increase repeat visits.
Increased Market Reach
By making your website accessible to a wider range of users, you are increasing your market reach. People with disabilities are a significant and growing segment of the population, and by providing equal access to your website, you are opening up a new market for your products or services. In addition, an accessible website is more likely to be shared and recommended by users, which can result in increased traffic and revenue.
Companies with accessible websites generally benefit from increased employee productivity. Employees with disabilities are able to use their assistive technologies to access the information they need, which leads to increased efficiency and less time spent on manual workarounds.
An accessible website demonstrates a commitment to diversity and inclusiveness, which can improve your brand image and reputation. By providing equal access to information and services, you are demonstrating a commitment to your customers and to the wider community.
Improved User Experience
Web accessibility not only benefits people with disabilities but also improves the overall user experience for all users. For example, adding alt text to images makes it easier for screen readers to describe the content of an image, making it more accessible to blind and visually impaired users.
However, it also provides a better experience for users who have slow internet connections and need to turn off images to save data.
Better Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Web accessibility can also improve your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Search engines, such as Google, consider web accessibility as a ranking factor in their algorithms.
By making your website more accessible, you can improve your search engine rankings and reach a wider audience. Especially, since Google has been gradually ramping up the intensity regarding how important accessibility is when trying to get your website noticed.
It is very likely that all of the above-mentioned stuff is going to be more of a factor going forward. Companies, who get on the hype train early on, will not only have a instrumental advantage, but will also look better in terms of branding.