What is website accessibility? An introduction for entrepreneurs & small businesses
Website accessibility refers to designing and developing websites that everyone, including people with disabilities, can use. Disabilities can take many forms, including visual, auditory, cognitive, and motor impairments.
About 20% of the world population fits into the category of people who need additional help to be able to access online content and tools.
How people with disabilities interact with websites
Here are some examples: Some people will come to your website and cannot see it because they are blind. Others will not be able to handle bright flashing images. Yet others, cannot read text below a certain font size.
This means that all these people rely on assistive technologies to access your web content and features. Some people might use screen readers to navigate the web, while others might rely on captions or sign language to understand audio and video content.
An accessible website incorporates its own assistive technologies and thoughtful design practices to make access much easier for different people.
Unfortunately though, many websites are not accessible to people with disabilities. This can make it difficult or impossible for them to access important information, shop online, or communicate with others. In some cases, it can even be dangerous, such as when a person with a disability cannot access emergency information or services online.
Legal obligations for business owners
It is important to note that website accessibility is not just a moral obligation, but also a legal one. Many countries, including the United States, have laws that require websites to be accessible to people with disabilities. Failure to comply with these laws can result in fines and lawsuits.
There are several guidelines and standards for website accessibility. The most widely recognized standards are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
Most websites with accessibility features will use some variation of the icon of a little person with their arms outstretched. That’s a quick way to tell if a website has made efforts to be accessible. Accessible websites will also often carry an accessibility statement, like our website accessibility statement here.
These guidelines provide a set of technical and non-technical recommendations for making web content more accessible to people with disabilities.
WCAG guidelines are organized into three levels of conformance: A, AA, and AAA. Each level includes success criteria that cover different aspects of website accessibility, such as providing alternative text for images, ensuring that content is keyboard accessible, and providing clear and concise language.
In addition to WCAG, there are other guidelines and standards that businesses should consider when designing accessible websites. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses in the United States to provide equal access to goods and services, including websites.
Lawsuits on the Rise
In recent years, ADA-related lawsuits have been on the rise. Thousands of small businesses and many major national corporations, like Target, Domino’s, Amazon, and Uber have had lawsuits filed against them for not having accessible websites.
The law firm Seyfarth Shaw started tracking ADA lawsuits in 2013. They say that the number of these lawsuits has increased by 320% since 2013.
The European Union also has a website accessibility directive that requires member states to ensure that public sector websites are accessible.
Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 requires public and private organizations to make reasonable accommodations for employees and customers who have disabilities.
In 2019, The Accessible Canada Act became law. It is meant to ensure accessibility to information and communication technologies, including digital content and the technologies used to access it. Organizations under federal jurisdiction are required to comply or face a fine of up to $250,000.
To ensure website accessibility, businesses should consider following these guidelines and standards and conduct regular accessibility audits to identify and address any issues.
They can also involve people with disabilities in the design and testing process to ensure that the website is truly accessible and meets their needs. By following these guidelines, businesses can ensure that their websites are accessible to all users and comply with legal requirements.
A Long Way to Go
About 20% of the world’s population has a disability that prevents them from accessing content and tools on the web the same way as everyone else. That’s about 1,83 Billion people. Meanwhile, over 70% of websites are not accessible to people with disabilities.
Accessibility helps everyone
Businesses should pay attention to website accessibility because it is not only the right thing to do, but also because it makes good business sense. People with disabilities make up a large and growing market segment. According to Return on Disability, they have an estimated spending power of over $1.9 trillion globally.
By making their websites accessible, businesses can tap into this market and increase their customer base.
Moreover, website accessibility can also improve the user experience for everyone. For example, captions and transcripts can benefit people who are deaf or hard of hearing, but they can also benefit people who are in a noisy environment or who prefer to read text rather than watch a video.
You will have probably experienced this yourself, riding on a bus or train during the busy morning commute and you are watching a video with no captions. Irritating AF.
Similarly, clear and concise language can benefit people with cognitive impairments. Additionally, it can also benefit people who are in a hurry or who have limited proficiency in the language you use to communicate.
Make your website accessible in 3 easy steps
I get it, for a small business starting up, making a website accessible is another thing to add to an already long, seemingly impossible list of to-dos. But the benefits far outweigh the costs.
Not only does it ensure that everyone can access important information and services online, but it also opens up new markets and improves the user experience for everyone. By prioritizing website accessibility, businesses can show that they care about their customers and are committed to inclusivity and diversity.
Do you want to ensure that your website is accessible to all users without any stress or hassle?
Artist Dynamix has an easy three-step process to make your website accessible.
- We run your accessibility report.
- We create an accessibility widget for your site.
- We install it on your site and within 48 hours of installation, your website is fully accessible and ADA-compliant.
Fill out the simple form below and get a free website accessibility report for your site, including the next steps to make your website truly accessible and ADA-compliant.