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5 Reasons Businesses Should Have Accessible Web Design

October 16, 2019

Over the years, the web has become faster, more agile, and user-friendly. Today, you can add different functionalities and graphics to build more secure and aesthetically pleasing websites.

However, most designers still forget about adding web accessibility components to their websites.

For most web designers, the website’s appearance is the only factor that makes or breaks a website.

In a bid to make websites compatible with different browsers and devices, web accessibility often takes a back seat. This results in people with disabilities that are unable to enjoy online shopping, blog content, and other online services as much as people without disabilities.

Building an accessible website brings unique benefits to your clients’ online businesses. The following benefits should encourage your clients to have an ADA-compliant website.

1. Say Goodbye to Potential ADA Lawsuits

Signed by George H. W. Bush in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that people with disabilities should get access to public services and places of public accommodation just like everyone else. 

American Disabilities Act (ADA)
Source

In other words, any business serving the public will also need to provide access to people with disabilities. 

Although the law doesn't specifically talk about web accessibility, the ADA regulations can also apply to the digital space.

In 2018, the number of federally-filed website accessibility lawsuits skyrocketed to 2,285, up from just 815 in 2017. In the first half of 2019, these lawsuits had a 51.7% increase compared to 2018. 

The total number of filings for 2019 have reached a staggering 3,200 in just six months.

If your website is not ADA-compliant, your business could attract a lawsuit for discriminating against people with disabilities. As a web designer, you should tell your clients about the ADA and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) that can help make their website more accessible.

Always ask your clients to take website accessibility into account when building a new site. As a web designing agency, you can also use web accessibility tools like accessiBe to make existing websites ADA-compliant quickly and without breaking the bank.

2. Increase Your Market Reach

People with disabilities make up a significant share of the global and national population. According to the CDC, the number of adults in the US with hearing trouble is around 38.3 million (15.5%) and vision trouble is nearly 26.9 million (10.9%). 

These figures alone represent almost one-fifth of the US population aged 18 and above.

From a marketing standpoint, not considering web accessibility means missing out on a large number of customers with disabilities. 

In the UK, 6.1 million internet users with different impairments spent around £16.55 billion online in 2016. Almost 71% of disabled UK customers that have a collective spending power of £11.75 billion click away from a difficult-to-use website immediately.

On the other hand, total after-tax disposable income for working-age Americans with disabilities was about $490 billion in 2018, while discretionary income was about $21 billion.

Online businesses with a global target audience stand to lose hundreds of millions if they lack website accessibility. Adding even the smallest website accessibility features can help you tap this hidden market.

3. Get Good Publicity for Your Brand

Other than increasing your market reach, web accessibility will also help you build a positive image for your brand. It proves how valuable your customers with disabilities are to your brand. 

Cause marketing is going mainstream as consumers expect brands to align with their own values.

Research shows that consumers (63%) find purpose-driven brands more attractive than ones without any purpose or cause. Almost half of consumers (42%) will walk away from a brand that lacks a purpose and 21% of them never come back.

As web accessibility is one of the most significant social causes, it can help attract your target consumers, especially millennials and young adults. Plus, when people with disabilities visit your website, they will talk about its user-friendliness with others, resulting in positive word-of-mouth publicity for your brand.

On the other hand, refusing to recognize web accessibility will eventually turn into a PR disaster. Domino's, the global pizza giant, recently came under intense social media fire when it decided to fight an ADA lawsuit instead of making their website accessible. 

Guillermo Robles, who filed the lawsuit, said he was not able to place an order despite using a screen reader. The lawsuit claims that Domino's website is inaccessible to the blind, which is in violation of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

Surprisingly, the brand spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight the lawsuit rather than simply spend $38,000 to make its website accessible. Domino's lost the case after drawing harsh criticism on social media for saying ADA compliance is costly and unnecessary. 

Domino's Twitter Web Accessibility
 
Source 

Many people found Domino's reaction to web accessibility unacceptable, especially since making your website ADA compliant does not have to be expensive.

By creating your site accessible to all, you are building a brand dedicated to serving all audiences and making their user experience easy for everyone. 

4. Web Accessibility Increases Site Usability

Along with positive brand publicity, web accessibility will also help improve the website's usability. In fact, many people that don't fall under the definition of disabled also take advantage of accessibility. 

For example, many people like using the keyboard for navigation or they use a text reader to hear emails instead of reading them.

When you start implementing the WCAG accessibility guidelines, as a designer, you can also identify and fix various usability problems. It will empower your target audience, including people with disabilities, age-related issues, smartphone users, and even people without disabilities to access your website with ease. 

In the long term, your website will likely generate more leads across different consumer segments.

5. Improve Your SEO along the Way

Finally, a collateral benefit of web accessibility is better search engine optimization or SEO. The primary goal of SEO is to drive more web traffic to your website by ranking it in the top ten search results, preferably on Google.

Search engines are usually text-based. They rely on crawlers to read the content of your website in order to rank it. Screen readers, tools that help blind people read online content, work just like search engines.

Further, when you add accessibility features such as alt text for images and video transcripts as per WCAG guidelines, you are improving your SEO. As a result, the website becomes more accessible to both, your target audience and search engines.

Make Your Website Accessible for All People

Web accessibility goes well beyond making your website accessible to people with disabilities. 

While protecting your business from potential accessibility lawsuits is the most obvious benefit, you can also increase your market reach, improve SEO, and receive good brand publicity. 

Hopefully, as a web design agency, you will be able to encourage your clients to prioritize web accessibility by explaining these benefits.