People often ask why is web accessibility important? This is an good question as it sheds light on the lack of awareness about the topic. Also, asking the question is a great starting point for a discussion. Below we will look at three reasons why web accessibility is important for your business.
It is estimated by the WHO that 1 in 7 people have a disability, this equates to over 1 billion people. The 2010 US census found that nearly 1 in 5 people in the USA have a disability. There are four types of disabilities related to using the internet. They include: movement, sight, hearing, and thinking. These disabilities can lead to problems using a web site, and can make it hard to see text, hear videos, or understand words.
Disabilities like these can affect anyone, including some of your customers. By having a web page that is not accessible you are forcing some of your customers to look else where. Accessibility issues aren’t only for people with disabilities. Users who speak english as a second language, are older, or have become temporarily disabled may have problems using your site. By ignoring accessibility you are ignoring these groups of potential customers.
In Canada and many other countries web accessibility is important because it is required by law. At its core accessibility is a human rights issue. If a website is not accessible then it is not providing an equal opportunity to all users. This aspect of the law might not be a problem for a small companies, but it is certainly an issue for government bodies and large corporations.
In Ontario, Canada private and nonprofit companies with 50 or more employees are required by law to make their new websites accessible. These same rules apply to all public sector organizations. Starting January 1st, 2014 content must meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A. Starting January 1st, 2021 Level AA must be met. In 2010 a blind woman from Toronto successfully sued the federal government because she was not able to apply for a job online.
Similar web accessibility laws exist in the US. The American company Target, was sued because disabled users were not able to navigate the web site. In the future web accessibility will continue to be an important issue as the law becomes more fair for people with disabilities.
Web Accessibility is Important Because People Use The Internet
In the past people with disabilities have had trouble accessing information and resources. The advent of the internet has made resources accessible to people who have been neglected in the past. For this reason, customers may come to your website because other methods of reaching you have not been successful or involved too many barriers. The internet is the great equalizer, rather than ignoring this, your company should be embracing it.
Assuring that your website is accessible also means that it is easier to use for everyone who visits. Web accessibility isn’t just for people with disabilities, it helps all users by making an easy and consistent user experience. Many issues with web accessibility result from forgetting or neglecting web standards or best practices, by building your website correctly you are making them accessible.
Hopefully the three reasons above make it clear why web accessibility should be a priority for your organization.