The Web is used not only for receiving information, but also for providing information and interacting with society. Therefore, it is essential that the Web be accessible in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to the largest minority group in the world, people living with disabilities. Accessible websites offer Businesses other benefits such as:
- Increase traffic to the website
- Expand potential market share
- Increase search ranking potential
- Improve the site and increase usability for all visitors
- Generate positive PR and brand awareness
- Comply with legislation to reduce legal liabilities
- Standardize Web design, build and maintenance
Your business or organization may be subject to legal requirements regarding web accessibility by explicit federal or state government regulations, laws or policies. When businesses have accessible websites, they are in compliance with regulations, laws and/or policies. As a result, businesses eliminate the potential for legal ramifications for not having an inaccessible website. Read Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization: Overview and Section 508 and the ADA: a Primer for Website Accessible Communication for more information.
Search Engine Ranking Benefit
Search Engines are a lot like people with sight related impairments who use screen readers, for example, because they can’t see the content of your images. When businesses incorporate accessibility features into their website, such as including alt text tags for images, your search engine optimization(SEO) also improves as there are many overlaps between accessibility guidelines and best practices for Search Engine Optimization. Read WebAIM: Web Accessibility and SEOfor more information.
Web accessibility and usability are closely related as their goals, approaches, and guidelines overlap significantly. Usable accessibility combines usability and accessibility to develop positive user experiences for all people whatever their abilities, age, economic situation, education, geographic location, language, etc. It is most effective to address usability and accessibility together when developing websites. In the process of implementing web accessibility best practices, you’re likely to discover and correct usability problems that were affecting all of your visitors.
Audience Reach Benefit
Not only does an accessible web design improve the usability for all users, it also increases the overall number of people that can visit your website, ultimately bringing in more sales and visibility to the virtual world. About 15% or one billion people worldwide have a disability, including: blind, color blind, deaf, autistic, dyslexic, learning disabled, elderly, and people with physical disabilities (2016, World Health Organization). If you do not incorporate accessibility when incorporating usability, you are missing out on reaching the largest minority group in the world.
The Web is an important medium for receiving information as well as for providing information and interacting with society. Therefore, it is essential that the Web is accessible in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with disabilities. This basic human right is recognized in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which specifically mentions the Internet and other accessible information and communications technologies (ICT). The importance of various social aspects of Web accessibility is different for specific businesses and situations. For example, one business’s goal might be to become a leader in corporate social responsibility, while a different business might be particularly interested in attracting capital from socially responsible investing sources. Organizations efforts in web accessibility are an opportunity to positively increase its public image, which can increase website use, business partnerships/collaborations, and revenue.
Web accessibility is not only a benefit for people with disabilities, it provides other benefits, such as good search engine optimization (SEO), reduced legal risk, demonstration of corporate social responsibility, as well as increased customer reach.
In order to be willing to make the initial investment, businesses need to understand the social, technical, and financial benefits of Web accessibility, and the expected returns. Read the resources within this post as well as others found in WeCo’s IT Accessibility Information Blog .