Did you know that 26 percent – that’s 1 in 4– adults in the United States live with some type of disability? That means that most likely, you or someone you know is affected by the issue of web accessibility.
We’re all aware of how ever-present computers and connected devices have become increasingly important in our daily lives, and that trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Accessibility is a crucial issue that impacts the ability of individuals with disabilities to effectively access and navigate the internet. This includes those with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive impairments.
Ensuring that your website is accessible is not just an ethical responsibility, but also a legal requirement. In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that all businesses with a ah!website must make it accessible to people with disabilities.
Why Accessibility Matters
Imagine a world where everyone, regardless of their abilities, can easily access and navigate the vast wealth of information and resources the internet has to offer. That’s what accessibility is all about. By prioritizing web accessibility, we can create an inclusive digital landscape and unlock the limitless possibilities the internet has to offer.
One of the main reasons accessibility is important is that it allows individuals with disabilities to have equal access to the information and resources that are available on the Internet. When websites aren’t designed to be accessible, it creates a disadvantage for people with disabilities, and prevents them from being able to fully participate in the digital world. This can lead to social isolation, as well as a lack of opportunities, such as jobs, education, and any of the other possibilities made available to us through the Internet.
In terms of education and employment, most universities and employers have an online presence, making the Internet a crucial resource for those seeking higher education or job opportunities. Without accessibility, individuals with disabilities may not be able to access the information they need to apply to universities or jobs. As online shopping for everyday household items and food increased,, a lack of web accessibility can completely prevent a person with a disability from being able to purchase something they need for their daily lives. Something as seemingly simple as an inaccessible website can severely limit the opportunities for individuals with disabilities and can even impact their ability to support themselves and their families.
When a website is designed with accessibility in mind, it’s not only easier for individuals with disabilities to use, it’s easier for everyone. Accessibility leads to a user-friendly and visually pleasing website experience for all users, making browsing and navigation much more convenient for all of a website’s visitors. This includes individuals who may not have a disability, but still benefit from accessibility features such as larger text or high contrast colors. Additionally, accessible websites are often more user-friendly and have a better overall design— meaning that if your website is more accessible for some, it’s more accessible for everyone.
While it might not be immediately obvious, anyone can experience challenges while using a website. For example, when a person is holding a mug of coffee and can only use one free hand to navigate a webpage, they’re experiencing a mobility issue, and if a webpage isn’t accommodating, it will quickly become difficult to use. If a person is keeping their screen dimmed in a sleeping child’s bedroom, a webpage’s contrast and colors becomes a significant issue if it’s not designed with visual accessibility in mind.
In addition to the moral and legal obligations, there are also measurable financial benefits to making your website accessible. Businesses that make their websites accessible are more likely to attract a larger audience and retain customers. This is because accessibility can improve search engine optimization (SEO) and make it easier for potential customers to find and use your website. Additionally, by making your website accessible, you can avoid costly lawsuits that can result from non-compliance with the ADA.
The Risks of Not being Accessibility Compliant
There were more than 4,000 digital accessibility lawsuits filed in 2022. This follows a trend that has been growing since 2013, and doesn’t show signs of slowing down. In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile lawsuits involving businesses that were not in compliance with the ADA. For example, in 2019, Dominos Pizza was hit with a lawsuit for not having an accessible website. The company ultimately lost the lawsuit and was ordered to pay $9 million in damages.
In 2005, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), a non-profit organization that advocates for the rights of blind individuals, notified Target Corporation that their website was not accessible for blind users. The NFB filed a lawsuit in 2006, and after a prolonged legal battle, Target settled the class-action lawsuit in 2018 and was ordered to pay $6 million in damages.
These cases serve as a reminder of the significant financial risks that can result from not being compliant with website accessibility laws.
Another risk of not being compliant with website accessibility laws is the potential loss of business. With the growing awareness of the importance of accessibility, consumers are becoming more conscious of the accessibility of the websites they use. If you’re a brand that’s not embracing accessibility, you’re taking a big risk with your reputation, especially among younger consumers. According to a study by Accessible by Design, a lot of people have negative reactions to brands that don’t make their websites or products accessible. 40% of survey respondents said they wouldn’t buy from or recommend those brands. And 81% said they felt disconnected, unenthusiastic, and skeptical about those brands..
It probably goes without saying, but not being compliant with website accessibility laws also creates a subpar user experience for individuals with disabilities. This can result in frustration and dissatisfaction, which can lead to a lack of engagement, fewer return customers, and significant losses in potential brand loyalty.
Tools to Make Your Website Accessibility Compliant
There are many effective tools and services available that can help you identify and fix any accessibility issues on your website.
One such tool is Accessibe, a company that specializes in providing accessibility solutions for websites. Accessibe offers a variety of services including manual testing, automated testing, and accessibility audits. These services can help you identify any accessibility issues on your website and provide you with a report on how to fix them. Additionally, Accessibe offers remediation services that can help you implement the necessary changes to make your website compliant. (We’ll admit, we’re biased. We’ve partnered with Accesibe to make our own websites more accessible, and they’re awesome!)
Funkify is a tool that can help you understand how individuals with disabilities experience your website. It comes as a Chrome extension that simulates browsing with various disabilities, such as vision impairments, tremors, dyslexia, hyperactivity, and keyboard-only control. By using this extension, you can gain a deeper understanding of the challenges that your users face and take steps to improve the accessibility of your website.
AudioEye is another company that offers accessibility solutions for websites. Their software includes features such as a screen reader, keyboard navigation, and text-to-speech. They also offer an accessibility audit tool that can help you identify and fix any accessibility issues on your website.
Additionally, User1st offers a manual testing service that can help you identify and fix any accessibility issues on your website.
Accessibility Starts Here
At Echo-Factory, we understand the importance of accessibility in today’s digital age. That’s why we offer a variety of solutions to help make your business’s website, mobile, or other online experiences more accessible to everyone. Our team can work with you to identify any accessibility issues on your website and develop strategies to address them. If you’re facing challenges making your website and mobile experiences more accessible, or just don’t know where to start, we’d be happy to help.