A majority of people in the world today live their lives and conduct business online every day. It’s important as a business owner for your website to function in the way it’s meant to for all the types of users it will serve. Making sure your website is web accessible is the right direction toward inclusive business practice.
Putting Inclusion into Perspective
A U.S. census report based on the broad measure of disability in 2014, showed about 85 million people living in the United States had a disability. It is expected for the number of people living with a disability to continue to increase as a result of an aging population. This will account for the significantly higher percentage of people living with a disability to be aged 65 and older. Vision and hearing, for example, typically deteriorate with age. Up to 40% of people will have some form of disability by the time they are 70 years old.
From the percentage of adults aged 18 and older in 2014, about 12 million had serious difficulty seeing, including 1.6 million adults who were blind. 17 million adults experienced serious hearing difficulty, including 3 million who were deaf. About 8 million adults used a hearing aid, and 6 million adults had serious difficulty hearing while using a hearing aid. Roughly 4 million adults had both vision and hearing difficulties.
Among the 45 million adults 65 years and older, 9% had difficulty seeing, and 20% had difficulty hearing. Adults 65 years and older had a hearing difficulty at about five times the rate of adults aged 18 to 64, and they were about four times as likely to be deaf. They also used a hearing aid about 12 times as often as adults aged 18 to 64.
While some types of disability are acquired at birth or early in life, others can be the result of accident, illness, injury and the process of aging throughout life.
3 Reasons to Make Accessibility a Priority
1. Remember, being section 508 compliant not only applies to federal sites but others as well. It is a smart move to make sure your business’s website follows the WCAG.
In what is believed to be the first website accessibility lawsuit, an ADA lawsuit concerning Plaintiff Juan Carlos Gil, won the federal trial after suing supermarket chain Winn-Dixie. Gill has a vision disability and uses a screen reader that couldn’t read Winn-Dixie’s website, rendering it inaccessible.
In 2018 alone, there were at least 2258 federal ADA lawsuits alleging discrimination due to inaccessible websites. Among them, the most busy jurisdictions were New York, 1564 lawsuits, and Florida, 576 lawsuits.
2. Establish yourself as an inclusive business. Recalling the Census Bureau’s 2014 report, there are about 85 million people living in the United States with a disability.
A study done by the American Institutes for Research found that working-age people with disabilities have, on average, a lower annual income than people without disabilities, but still have significant spending power. Adults age 16 to 65 have a total disposable income of about $490 billion. That’s not including the family members, friends, colleagues, and caregivers that can contribute as well. People appreciate businesses that are conscious of accessibility and inclusion.
3. Making sure your company’s website is accessible improves marketability. It will continue to be a part of an in-depth audit of your website for anyone looking at all the fine details. Plus, it overlaps with other best practices such as mobile, web design, sales funnels, and SEO.
- Your web design is the defining point of a potential lead’s usability and experience with your brand. Consider how fast you, as a user, decide a website isn’t worth it when the font is blocked or hard to read. A way to improve this navigation, for example, could be through the use of a toolbar add-on that allows a user to customize their experience on your site.
- Web accessibility could also improve your sales funnel, reducing the bounce rate by users with a disability. Open Doors Organization (ODO), a Chicago-based non-profit group that educates the travel and tourism industries on the needs of people with disabilities, has conducted surveys showing that the majority of people with disabilities experience barriers when they travel.
- When users with a disability go online they may or may not (depending on accessibility) get the travel information they need. Another possible barrier could be related to forms that are not accessible to screen readers. It is a huge loss to the industry when you consider that this group spends over $17 billion annually on travel in the United States. And since people with disabilities rarely take trips solo, their actual contribution tops $35 billion or more.
- A big part of websites are images and visuals such as infographics. Alt text or alternate text is used to describe these images. The descriptions can be optimized so that what screen readers read, will be more accurate and understandable to the user.
Web accessibility should be just as important to people living without a disability as it is for people living with a disability. Make your business’ website inclusive today and let MAB help your website reach 508 compliance.