Three Reasons to Focus on Web Accessibility

Usability | March 2016

Three practical reasons why we believe you really have to start considering web accessibility.

Many articles have been written on the reasons why companies should care about the accessibility of their digital products.  By now, you probably know that accessibility:

  • Keyboard with accessibility keyis a moral responsibility and a legal requirement
  • helps your Search Engine Optimisation
  • reduces maintenance costs
  • improves technical performance
  • increases usability

These are all good reasons why you should consider accessibility, but here are the top three reasons why we believe you really cannot ignore accessibility anymore

1. You will significantly increase your customer base

According to the Office for Disability Issues over 11 million people with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability live in Great Britain.

Happy lady with arms rasied holding shopping bagsMany of these people find it difficult to travel to a physical location such as an office, a branch, a shop or a university, and are likely to conduct their every-day tasks from their home using websites and applications.

In a typical day they may use the Internet to order groceries, pay bills, transfer money, attend University lectures and work.  I am not an economist, but it seems obvious to me that any organisation making it easy for these people to carry out activities online is going to quickly increase its customer base – ideally up to 11 million – with all the financial benefits that come with it.

2. It is not a ‘nice option’ anymore, it is an expectation

Ten years ago very few organisations worried about the accessibility of their websites, and people with a disability were often faced by huge – if not insurmountable – barriers when trying to use them.  With few exceptions (e.g. the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games case in 2000 and the Target case in 2006) these users did not raise any complaints as they did not expect online information to be accessible for them.

Accessibility5Expectations have completely changed in the past few years; customers with a disability are now as demanding as anybody else.  During user testing we often observe people who are blind and participants with a motor impairment becoming frustrated because they cannot complete tasks on a website as quickly and efficiently as they would like.

If the online products offered by your company are not accessible, users will very quickly move to the competitors’ sites and will recommend them to other people in their community.  For example, customers who are deaf are likely to switch to the banks that provide an online sign language interpreting service (e.g. Lloyds and Barclays) unless their current bank launches a similar service.  Are you ready for the challenge?

 3. It is easy

Do you think that implementing accessible solutions requires a lot of time and effort?  Wrong!  In many cases writing code that is accessible is quicker and easier than writing code that is not.  That is because the easiest way to create accessible digital products is to follow standards and use built-in controls and functionality.

UIKit Tools setting imageFor example, to include a drop-down list on a web page you have two options – simply add the <select> element to the page source code, or write several lines of HTML code and JavaScript to create a customised control.  Guess what, the first option will automatically result in an accessible and easy to use drop-down list, while the second solution has a very high chance of generating a completely or partially inaccessible control.

Similarly, if you are building an App for iPhone and use the standard UIKit controls you will not even have to think about accessibility, as these controls already include all the accessibility traits that a screen reader (the assistive technology used by blind people) will look for.

Even when writing a Word document, using the built-in styles and headings will make your life easier and will generate an accessible document.

 What are you waiting for?

To summarise, building digital products and services that are accessible will increase your customer base, reduce the chances of losing customers to competitors and is often easier than creating inaccessible products.  What are you waiting for?

cta-imageWe can help you asses the accessibility of your websites, applications and digital systems.  To find out more about our services please contact us.

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