Updated: Jun 3
While there are several benefits to conforming your website accessibility guidelines, perhaps the most important advantage that it provides equal access to information for everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. In an era where the internet plays a vital role in daily life, ensuring everyone has access to websites is crucial.
Many international standards aim to make the web accessible. The most common and ISO-certified standard is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The WCAG 2.1 was published in December 2008 and updated in June 2018.
Some individuals with disabilities may require assistance from assistive technologies to browse the web; by following accessibility guidelines, website owners can help ensure that their sites are compatible with these technologies. Making a website accessible can also benefit those who do not have any disabilities.
This content is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice or assistance, please consult a lawyer. Always consult with a lawyer before making any decisions about your business, legal rights or obligations.
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Defining web accessibility
Web accessibility refers to the ability of people with disabilities to interact with and use web resources. This includes people who have visual, auditory, physical, speech, or cognitive impairments. It also applies to users who do not have a disability but may be using a mobile device or assistive technology such as screen readers.
The internet is a fundamental tool for communication, education, and access to information and services. Making websites accessible is essential for many reasons. Everyone should have equal access to these resources, regardless of their abilities. However, web accessibility is not just a legal requirement; it's also a matter of social justice and inclusivity. By making websites accessible, we can ensure that no one is excluded or left behind.
Learn more about Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) here.
Changes in the web landscape
It's very important for you to be aware of recent changes in the web landscape.
You have probably heard about recent lawsuits involving websites of large companies such as Dominos (Robles v. Domino’s Pizza), Five Guys (Lucia Markett v. Five Guys), Hobby Lobby (Sean Gorecki v. Hobby Lobby), and Winn-Dixie (Gil vs. Winn-Dixie).
In fact, all of those lawsuits involved visually impaired people trying to access the company's website.
Accessibility lawsuits do not only affect big companies as you may think. Recently a small shoe store in Clearwater, FL was involved in a lawsuit as well.
How to make your website accessible
Web accessibility ensures that everyone has equal access to information and services online. We chose AccessiBe for our web accessibility compliance because they are experts in the field. Their AI powered accessWidget (see the picture below) ensures that our Agency website is fully compliant with all current web standards and regulations, making it easier for everyone visiting it.
Their team of experts is always on hand to provide support and guidance when needed.
What are some specific examples of an inaccessible website?
There are many website accessibility issues that can occur, but some of the more common ones include:
Incorrect use of fonts and colors
Missing alt text
Inaccessible menus and unclear navigation
To make websites accessible, it is important to follow guidelines and best practices. The most widely recognized guidelines for web accessibility are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
The Benefits of Captions and Transcripts for Video Accessibility
Captions and transcripts are essential tools for ensuring that videos are accessible to all users, including those with hearing or visual impairments. By providing captions and transcripts, businesses and organizations can create a more inclusive experience for all online users, improve their search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, and even increase engagement with their content.
One of the biggest benefits of captions and transcripts is that they make videos accessible to people who are hard of hearing. Captions provide a text-based representation of the audio in a video, allowing people who are unable to hear the audio to still follow along with the content. Transcripts, on the other hand, provide a written version of the audio, making it easier for people who are hard of hearing to access the content in their preferred format.
Another benefit of captions and transcripts is that they can improve SEO. By providing captions and transcripts for their videos, businesses and organizations can improve SEO and attract more organic traffic to their website.
Captions and transcripts can also increase engagement with video content. Many people prefer to watch videos with captions, as it allows them to follow along more easily and catch details they may have missed otherwise. Transcripts can also be helpful for people who prefer to read content instead of watching videos, allowing them to engage with the content in a way that suits their needs.
In addition to these benefits, providing captions and transcripts can also help businesses and organizations to comply with legal requirements related to accessibility.
Identify accessibility problems on your website
However, testing is not only limited to online tools, as it is also important to have real user testing with people with disabilities, as they can give you a better idea of the real user experience and the problems that they face while using your website.
Web accessibility is an essential aspect of creating an inclusive and equitable online environment.
Poor accessibility can lead to lost business opportunities.
Website accessibility is essential for businesses of all sizes, even for mom and pop online shops. If your website is not accessible to everyone, you may lose customers who are unable to access your information or purchase your products or services.
By ensuring that your website is accessible, you can maximize the potential for growth in your business.
Disabilities are not rare and can happen to many of us
At some point in our lives. Whether it's a temporary injury, aging, or a long-term condition, disabilities can greatly impact an individual's ability to access and use the internet.
By making your website and web content accessible, you can ensure that everyone can access the resources they need, regardless of their abilities.
Disabilities come in many forms and can be visible or invisible. Visible disabilities are those that are easily observable such as a person using a wheelchair or a blind person using a white cane. Invisible disabilities are those that are not immediately apparent such as a person with a learning disorder or a person with a chronic pain condition.
Ignoring web accessibility can be costly
If you're an online business owner, chances are you're looking for ways to cut costs. But when it comes to your website, ignoring web accessibility can be costly.
Loss of Potential Customers: There are millions of people with disabilities who use the internet. If your website isn't accessible, you're potentially missing out on a significant customer base. According to the World Health Organization, over a billion people, or about 15% of the world's population, live with some form of disability. This group has an estimated spending power of $1.2 trillion, which increases to $8 trillion when you include their friends and family. Ignoring web accessibility means missing out on this substantial market.
Legal Risks: Many countries have laws and regulations that require businesses to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities. For instance, in the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require that all websites be accessible. Businesses that fail to comply with these laws can face lawsuits, fines, and damage to their reputation.
SEO Benefits: Accessible websites are often more SEO-friendly. Many of the practices that improve accessibility, such as using alt tags for images and proper heading structure, also improve SEO. This means that by making your website more accessible, you can also improve your search engine rankings, leading to more traffic and potential customers.
Brand Image and Reputation: In today's socially conscious business environment, inclusivity and accessibility are important for a company's brand image. Companies that prioritize accessibility are often viewed more favorably by consumers. On the other hand, a company that is sued for not having an accessible website can suffer damage to its reputation.
Future-Proofing Your Business: As technology continues to evolve, it's likely that web accessibility will become even more important in the future. By making your website accessible now, you're future-proofing your business and ensuring that you can continue to reach as many customers as possible.
So take the time to ensure your site is accessible. Again if you're looking for a simple solution to make your website accessible, try AccessiBe.
Accessible websites provide countless benefits for both businesses and individuals. It is not only a legal requirement but also a matter of social justice and inclusivity. By ensuring that your website can be accessed and used by everyone, you create a better experience for all users while expanding your customer base/ Keep in mind that poor website accessibility can lead to lost business opportunities, customer dissatisfaction, and even legal problems for businesses.
Thanks for reading.