Digital accessibility involves removing barriers that prevent people with disabilities from interacting with or accessing websites, digital tools, and technologies. And despite 15% of the population or about one billion people, having some form of disability, many brands treat digital accessibility as an afterthought.
On the contrary, businesses should consider it their social responsibility to maintain accessibility standards for disabled people in the digital age. And digital accessibility, comprising of web accessibility and mobile accessibility, should be more than meeting legal requirements. It should revolve around designing websites, tools, and technologies to provide disabled users with a positive experience.
What is a brand, and what does digital accessibility do with it?
Your brand is your name, color, logo, message, or anything that makes your product, company, or business unique. And you define your brand based on your company’s mission, customers’ needs, USP, and strengths.
It is what you want people to associate with your organization when they think of you and your company. So by creating accessible web experiences, you welcome disabled users to share your products and services.
Why digital accessibility should be part of your brand online
Here are a few more reasons for including digital accessibility as part of your brand.
Eliminate the risks of facing a lawsuit
Did you know that the US government has filed nearly three thousand five hundred digital accessibility lawsuits? So you risk getting sued and ending up having to pay fines or your website getting banned for not adhering to web content accessibility guidelines.
While most disabled users won’t let you know, they cannot access your website, app, or public accommodations; some will take legal action. Not only are ADA lawsuits expensive, but they are also time-consuming, and you end up paying legal fees and settlements.
Helps with your branding
Web accessibility is critical in building a strong brand image online, as people are more comfortable working with brands demonstrating social responsibility. Having accessible web applications reflects your brand’s commitment to action and serving society.
Your reputation is at stake
You place your reputation at stake for not having a fully accessible digital presence. It negatively impacts your brand as a third of your users are disabled or know someone with a disability. These people lose respect for brands that do not prioritize providing equal web access to those with disabilities.
Improved recruitment options
You will want to attract and recruit the best talent through online job applications. And the best way to do this is by offering accessible platforms where even disabled users can apply for jobs befitting their skills.
Sometimes a long-term employee may become disabled as part of the aging process or from an accident. You risk losing their services because your digital content is not accessible to them, which can impact your business’s financial and cultural success.
People with disabilities like visual and mobility impairments have equal rights to education, employment, family life, and consumer life. So they have to be granted fair access to websites and mobile apps.
Digital accessibility opens up an additional market for your products and services. With people with disabilities using computers and mobile phones, you must also ensure you sell to them. You lose out on this huge market share if your websites and apps aren’t accessible. You never know when your next disabled customer or user is, so you must make your digital solutions meet web and mobile accessibility guidelines.
It includes making your digital products and technologies friendly to assistive devices like screen readers or braille terminals for users with visual impairments.
Creates a positive brand image and brand loyalty
Digital accessibility creates a positive brand image because it lets people interact positively with your brand. The more positive customer experiences with your company, the more likely they will become loyal customers. They will, in turn, recommend your business and promote it independently.
Web content accessibility guidelines overlap with SEO
It is exciting and surprising that SEO best practices overlap with WCAG. Your SEO and conversion rates increase while making your site accessible. Besides, Google searches look for features similar to WCAG guidelines.
The disabled are no longer a minority
Increased accessibility benefits more than a minority. While the disabled population reaches 15% of the global population, some people acquire a disability, like senior citizens, and are theoretically not disabled users.
So with anyone developing situational disabilities impeding their access to digital technologies and services temporarily or permanently, the number of disabled users increases tremendously.
This, in turn, opens doors to a trillion-dollar market opportunity. It includes not just the disabled but also their family, friends, and associates. This increased audience is worth more than a trillion dollars. Some brands lose billions for not providing their disabled users equal access to services and products.
Does not affect website aesthetics
Most brands hesitate to make their website accessible because they think they have to sacrifice aesthetics to create an accessible design. They feel an ADA-compliant website must be black-and-white with restricted fonts and interactive elements.
It is untrue because most accessibility elements are in the code and aren’t visible. So you can have elegant, lively, and engaging visual components.
Just the right thing to do
While digital accessibility is not part of a business requirement, it is essential for your business and branding. With so many internet businesses and services, companies are legally obligated not to exclude visitors for reasons like gender, age, nationality, and disability. Thus, digital accessibility is essential for any business and a brand’s long-term success.
How to start incorporating accessibility into your brand strategy
Here are some tips to help you start with online accessibility:
Strategic planning and implementation
Start with an audit and introduce accessibility features as part of your development process. Keep reviewing your product roadmap and locate where it is strategically feasible to incorporate accessibility fixes.
Study inclusive design or work with specialists
You can have your designers study inclusive design or work with niche experts. While most mobile and web accessibility features are in the code, designers also have a part to play.
Sometimes building accessibility may affect the web design. For example, if the design requires more contrasting colors and more extensive or noticeable clickable elements.
Have people with disabilities periodically test accessibility features
Never assume your digital products will work as intended. Always ensure your potential customers are comfortable with your user interface by having people with disabilities review your product.
Digital accessibility is not achieved overnight but is an ongoing process. So you need to periodically conduct a combination of manual and automated testing to identify steps to increase your platform’s accessibility.
Prepare an accessibility statement
By preparing an in-depth accessibility statement, you declare your brand’s commitment to web accessibility. Your statement should clearly explain your company’s target level of accessibility and the methods used to reach that target.
Let people know about your commitment to accessibility
Announce any significant changes you have made to your business and brand that improves digital accessibility. There is nothing wrong with being proud of your accessibility accomplishments, like including disabled users in your market research.
And the best way to quickly inform interested people is through social media networks, blog posts, emails, newsletters, and press releases.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is accessibility important for a company?
Accessibility is essential for a company because it benefits not only disabled users but also your brand and company. It can strengthen your brand by helping you reach a broader audience.
Besides, it helps improve your website’s SEO and usability while reducing the risks of facing unnecessary lawsuits and legal obligations.
Why is accessibility important in marketing products?
Disabled users constitute a sizeable disposable income and are ready to leave and not transact with websites that are not accessible. So competing brands risk losing billions by not being digitally accessible.
This is why accessibility is so crucial in digital marketing.
Why do companies care about web accessibility?
Companies care so much about website accessibility because it does more than benefit users with disabilities. It helps improve a company’s brand perception, builds a better user experience, and allows the company to practice social inclusivity.
Why is digital accessibility important for business?
Digital accessibility is essential because it supports brands it helps strengthen your brand by reaching a wider audience and buying the market. It also reduces the risks of facing legal complications while improving your online SEO and usability.
This is why accessibility should not just be something for your digital platforms but something your company must embody as part of your culture and branding strategy. Digital accessibility should be a part of the design and development process, not an afterthought or additional requirement.
Besides, implementing accessibility is easy and not time-consuming, especially if done from the beginning. It won’t add much to your development team’s workload or costs.
While you will have to spend to make websites and apps accessible, it is worth it compared to the benefits and increased brand reputation it offers in the long run.
The critical factor in implementation is integrating it during the development cycle and not after launching the product. We at ADA Site Compliance are the #1 place for ADA websites and are committed to helping you achieve digital compliance through accessibility.
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The ADA prohibits any private businesses that provide goods or services to the public, referred to as “public accommodations,” from discriminating against those with disabilities. Federal courts have ruled that the ADA includes websites in the definition of public accommodation. As such, websites must offer auxiliary aids and services to low-vision, hearing-impaired, and physically disabled persons, in the same way a business facility must offer wheelchair ramps, braille signage, and sign language interpreters, among other forms of assistance.
All websites must be properly coded for use by electronic screen readers that read aloud to sight-impaired users the visual elements of a webpage. Additionally, all live and pre-recorded audio content must have synchronous captioning for hearing-impaired users.
Websites must accommodate hundreds of keyboard combinations, such as Ctrl + P to print, that people with disabilities depend on to navigate the Internet.
Litigation continues to increase substantially. All business and governmental entities are potential targets for lawsuits and demand letters. Recent actions by the Department of Justice targeting businesses with inaccessible websites will likely create a dramatic increase of litigation risk.
Big box retailer Target Corp. was ordered to pay $6 million – plus $3.7 million more in legal costs – to settle a landmark class action suit brought by the National Federation of the Blind. Other recent defendants in these cases have included McDonald’s, Carnival Cruise Lines, Netflix, Harvard University, Foot Locker, and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Along with these large companies, thousands of small businesses have been subject to ADA website litigation.
Defendants in ADA lawsuits typically pay plaintiff's legal fees, their own legal fees for defending the litigation, and potential additional costs. In all, the average cost can range from tens of thousands of dollars, to above six figures. There are also high intangible costs, such as added stress, time and human capital, as well as reputational damage. Furthermore, if the remediation is incomplete, copycat suits and serial filers can follow, meaning double or triple the outlay. It's vital to implement a long-term strategy for ensuring your website is accessible and legally compliant.