Inaccessible web content denies people with disabilities equal access to information. The same can be said for an inaccessible website as it can be for a physical location that has steps at an entrance. For the Department of Justice, accessibility of the Internet is a priority. The Internet has become a part of our daily lives in the past few years, and people are more reliant on websites than ever before.
There are multiple ways in which people with disabilities navigate the web. People who are blind can use screen readers to hear the text that appears on screens. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing can use captions. In addition, people with disabilities who can’t use a mouse can use voice recognition software to control their computers and other devices.
It’s easy for websites to create unnecessary barriers that make it hard for people with disabilities to use them, just like steps can make it hard for some people with disabilities to enter buildings. These barriers on the web keep people with disabilities from accessing information, products, and services that businesses make available to the public online. However, these barriers can be prevented or removed so that websites are accessible to people with disabilities.
Due to the essential nature of the internet, making the web accessible to people with disabilities will become the standard within the next 12-24 months. In this article, we outline 6 benefits of web accessibility for your organization, your employees, and your customers.
1. Extending Market Reach
Disabilities come in many forms, such as hearing, visual, motor, and cognitive disabilities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 1 in 4 American adults has a disability.
Making your website more accessible is simply good business. While it may not be possible to design a website that is accessible to everyone, we’ve designed a web accessibility tool that grants entry to an immense, yet largely untapped market – estimated to be worth $1.28 trillion in the US alone. Why should you limit your business to only those without disabilities?
2. Mitigating Legal Risk
When Congress enacted the ADA in 1990, it intended for the ADA to keep pace with the rapidly changing technology of our times. Since 1996, the Department of Justice has consistently taken the position that the ADA applies to web content.
In March 2022, the DOJ released a statement announcing that they’re committed to using its enforcement authority to ensure website accessibility for people with disabilities and to ensure that the goods, services, programs, and activities that businesses and state and local governments make available to the public are accessible.
With exponential growth in web accessibility, legal actions have a widespread effect across industries with small and medium businesses in the center. 2021 had the largest number of web accessibility lawsuits ever, 14% higher than 2020. Lawsuit numbers are estimated to continue to increase as the need to enable accessible digital experiences becomes more prominent.
In recent months, several high-profile cases have raised visibility and awareness, including a lawsuit filed against Beyoncé’s website.
In order to avoid allegations of discrimination and legal action, businesses must comply with ADA Title III and web accessibility standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
3. Boosting Brand Perception & PR
Today, consumers want to support companies whose beliefs, ideals, and values align with their own. In a survey conducted by Accenture Strategy, 62 percent of consumers prefer to make purchases from a brand that takes a stand on issues that matter. Additionally, 47 percent of consumers are willing to walk away if they are disappointed with a company’s words or actions, and 17 percent will not return.
Web accessibility is a critical issue for people with disabilities, their loved ones, and disability rights advocates. When your website is accessible, it sends a message to the world that your business is inclusive, attentive to all customers, respectful of best practices, and forward-thinking. By addressing web accessibility, you’ll be establishing a positive brand image for your business.
When people with disabilities have positive interactions with your business, they are more likely to recommend you to their family, friends, acquaintances, and social networks.
4. Increasing Usability
Accessibility means making products, services, and environments more accessible to those with disabilities. We can therefore view accessibility as a sub-case or overlap of usability, which aims to improve the ease of use and user experience of a product or service.
Web accessibility standards such as WCAG, for example, require websites to be fully navigable and usable without a mouse. Obviously, this is beneficial to those who have difficulty using a standard computer mouse.
Nevertheless, your website’s navigability from a keyboard will benefit a broader user base as well. In order to fulfill this requirement, you must organize the navigational elements on your website in a strict hierarchy, which will make it easier for users to find the content they need.
Additionally, web accessibility recommendations improve the usability of your site as a whole. Your website’s alternative text (alt text) can help users with slow internet connections understand the purpose of your content before it loads. The use of glossaries to define acronyms, rare words, and technical terms may be beneficial for people with cognitive disabilities, for people who speak English as a second language, and for everyone else at any time.
5. Improving SEO
By creating an accessible website, you improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) and increase its chances of being found online.
By improving your website’s search engine ranking, SEO helps drive more traffic to your content. Google’s ranking algorithm is never fully revealed, but there are some SEO best practices that almost all digital marketers agree on.
SEO and web accessibility often have similar goals. Creating websites with cleaner interfaces and easier navigation helps people with disabilities, and it also reduces your bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who leave the website after just one page visit).
A shared goal of web accessibility and SEO is, for example, to provide closed captions and transcripts for your content:
- Web accessibility standards such as WCAG require text equivalents of video and audio files so that everyone, including people with disabilities, can access video content.
- Because Google and other search engines are primarily text-based, they cannot search through audio and video content. Transcripts and captions help with SEO because they provide text that can be found and indexed by Google and other search engines, making your website more accessible to users.
6. The Disabled Access Tax Credit
Investing in web accessibility and complying with the ADA now entitles businesses to a tax credit according to Section 44 of the IRS Code. This is great news for any business or agency that invests in an accessible website and offers an inclusive user experience to those living with disabilities.
Under Section 44 of the IRS Code, The Disabled Access Tax Credit is available to any business with an accessible, compliant website and has a total revenue of $1,000,000 or less in the previous tax year or 30 or fewer full-time employees.
The Disabled Access Tax Credit can cover 50% of the business’s expenditures in a year, for up to $10,250. The first $250 of your expenditures is not covered, which means the maximum credit allotted is $5,000.
The credit received by the business can be used for the removal of architectural barriers in facilities, and the purchase of assistive equipment services such as our web accessibility tool, or in some cases, the hiring of consulting services.
Many people believe that web accessibility is just for people with disabilities. We have discussed in this article the benefits of web accessibility, which include expanding your client base, improving your brand image, increasing search engine rankings, major tax benefits, and improved usability in general.
All of these advantages will help your business grow – so what are you waiting for? Don’t wait to receive a demand letter or a web accessibility lawsuit! Be proactive and save time and money by incorporating web accessibility into your website. Feel free to contact us today if you’d like to learn more about our website accessibility tool.