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Web Accessibility. Why It Matters.

If you could make some simple changes to your website that would benefit more than one-fourth of your visitors, will you do it? No-brainer, right?

Well, according to the “Centre for Disease and Prevention Control,” 26% of Americans have some type of disability, and many of those disabilities impact how people interact with digital content. By implementing best practices for web accessibility, organizations can offer a better user experience to people with disabilities and realize additional benefits that can positively impact their bottom line.

So, what is Web Accessibility?

Web Accessibility involves the qualities or attributes of a website or app that make it easy for people with disabilities to use. Just like wheelchair ramps and Braille signage help some folks enter, navigate, and use physical spaces, accessibility best practices help those with disabilities interact with digital properties.

To emphasize the importance of achieving conformance, here are the statistics that show how accessibility benefits millions of online users and why organizations implement accessibility

  • Approximately 15% of the world’s population live with some form of disability. (World Health Organization, 2020)
  • Globally, the market that includes people with disabilities as well as their family, friends, and advocates, is estimated to control over $13 trillion in annual disposable income. (The Return on Disability Group, 2020)
  • 75% of Americans with disabilities report using the internet on a daily basis. (Pew Research Centre, 2021)
  • 72% of U.S. adults with a disability say they own a desktop or laptop computer, compared with 88% of those without a disability. (Pew Research Centre, 2021)

Web Accessibility Statistics

  • On average, a home page has nearly 48 ARIA attributes. This marks a 25% year-over-year increase in ARIA code usage. (WebAIM, 2021)
  • In a survey of web accessibility practitioners, only 52.6% of respondents indicated that their own organization’s web products were accessible in 2021, a decline from 63.1% in 2018. (WebAIM, 2021)
  • 38.6% of employees reported that their product’s level of accessibility was called out as a reason for purchase by customers. (LevelAccess, 2021)
  • Digital products in full Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Level 2 compliance are expected to outperform their market competitors by 50% by 2023. [Gartner, 2020].
  • Approximately 42% of people with disabilities think that web content accessibility has not changed over the previous year. (WebAIM, 2021)

Accessibility is the focus of a global movement that is changing expectations among all consumers. With new online content being launched every day, accessibility is an ongoing process.

Why businesses/business heads should care about Accessibility in the Internet of Things –Understanding the guidelines

Businesses can gain more customers by offering more accessible features

Accessibility can be built into the source code of websites and applications.

Web browsers, media players, and apps should support accessibility, as it definitely boosts the quality of the product.

Apart from benefiting users with disabilities, ‘Website Accessibility’ helps businesses practice social inclusivity, improve their brand perception, and build a better experience for all customers.

Company accessibility guidelines should feed into the design, development, and QA processes.

Accessibility requirements should constantly adapt and evolve to the changing legislation.

Businesses should ensure their web services aren’t excluding visitors with disabilities. Creating an accessibility policy provides standards for businesses to implement accessibility into their services.

Accessibility training is also helpful for increasing awareness among employees.

Follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, while taking into account the different operating systems, device types, and hardware capabilities.

Design for people with different disability needs by ensuring good colour contrast, adding alternative text labels, no text cues, and avoiding flashy elements.

Businesses must make their sites compatible with keyboards and screen readers.

Building accessibility into your digital properties is an act of social inclusivity that eliminates barriers and allows all users to enjoy a positive experience while interacting with your brand online.

By making your digital properties accessible to all users, you demonstrate that your brand cares about inclusion and equal opportunities for all individuals to engage with you.

‘Accessibility can also ‘benefit your brand perception’ among current and potential customers and employees. People feel good about aligning with brands that demonstrate corporate social responsibility — a commitment to acting for the benefit of society as a whole’.

It’s important to remember that accessibility encompasses all disabilities that can impact a user’s ability to interact with digital properties, including visual, auditory, speech, cognitive, neurological, and physical. People with disabilities should be able to enjoy online content and services with the same ease as everyone else.

Implementing Accessibility Best Practices can benefit all users, not just those with permanent disabilities. Building accessibility into your website and applications is about more than avoiding complaints and lawsuits

The Future of Web Accessibility

Accessible Websites are better for everyone, including those with and without disabilities. Since the number of people experiencing some form of disability is expected to grow, organizations can expect more guidelines, legislation, and incentive to accommodate all users.

The time and resources you dedicate to implementing accessibility features and to making accessibility-by-design part of your standard process are an investment with the potential to deliver abundant returns to your brand equity and your bottom line.

This article was written by Will Awad

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