Time and time again, we’ve explained the importance of prioritizing accessibility in day-to-day business operations. It should go without saying that there is a moral imperative to do so. People have the right to participate in society regardless of their ability level.
However, some businesses may not fully appreciate how good accessibility is for business. In this piece, we will go over why investing in accessibility is a smart financial move.
Increased Customer Base
According to the CDC, about 26% of US adults have some sort of disability. That’s a significant part of the population, all of whom have the right to engage in the services that a business can provide.
By investing in accessibility, you open up your company to a substantial demographic. Not only are you benefiting these potential customers, but you’re also benefitting your business.
By opening up to this demographic, you will surely see an increase in customers, clients, or consumers. This increase will depend on how you accommodate various ability levels and the reputation your company is sure to garner for its ethical business practices.
Enhanced Brand Reputation
In today’s economy, reputation can go a long way, especially when it comes to how a company considers members of marginalized communities. Among these communities are individuals with disabilities.
If you’re known as an organization that takes accessibility seriously, then you will earn a favorable reputation in the marketplace. This reputation goes beyond potential customers with disabilities.
Individuals who value principles of social justice will look to your company as an example of the positive change needed in society. As accessibility becomes a more ubiquitous consideration, this is an important step to take.
Compliance with Legal Obligations
Though this should be far from the only motivator, it bears mentioning that maintaining accessibility can help your company avoid substantial legal issues.
It is illegal for a business to discriminate against individuals based on their disability. This is per the laws outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition to this federal measure, there are state-based laws with similar prohibitions around inaccessibility, such as California’s Unruh Act of 1959.
If you prioritize accessibility at an organizational level, you increase the chance of your business’s compliance with any relevant accessibility laws.
Reduced Costs of Retrofitting
As much effort as you may put into accessibility, some things are bound to slip through the cracks. You may have forgotten alt-text on some visual aspect of a new product, or the color contrast on one of your web pages is off.
It’s fine; it happens.
More importantly, it's not too difficult to fix if it’s the only issue. If your company has made accessibility a priority, there is a higher likelihood that any mistake you make will be small and easy to fix.
Moreover, they will be cheaper to fix. Smaller-scale retrofits are naturally going to be more manageable in cost than massive accessibility overhauls.
Improved User Experience
All of your users will benefit from you prioritizing accessibility. There is a misconception in the business world that accessibility is only meant to accommodate users with disabilities, but that’s not entirely true.
Accessibility consultant Jonathan Hassell said it best in an interview with Made Tech. In the interview, he related that while accessibility is important to accommodate a disability, it’s also for, “When I'm trying to make a chicken curry and I am cutting up chicken and the music playing in the background is not the same track I want. I say, 'Hey Alexa, next track.' I don't have a disability myself at the moment but sometimes I am doing something else with my hands or my eyes.”
Accessibility is about creating overall ease in the broader user experience.
How to Make Your Business More Accessible
Now that we’ve gone over why you should prioritize accessibility in your business. Let's quickly go over how. Some fundamental steps include the following:
Become familiar with standards –The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the widely accepted standards of digital accessibility. As businesses become more reliant on the internet and information technology, WCAG becomes all the more important.
Design products with accessibility in mind– Having understood the steps outlined in WCAG, the next step would be to apply these standards to your products, services, or platforms.
Offer training for all employees – Accessibility is a concept that your whole team should embrace. Providing
accessibility should be a goal as ubiquitous as making a profit. As such, everyone should be on the same page and know how and why to prioritize accessibility.
Conduct an accessibility audit– If prioritizing accessibility is a new concept for you and your company, knowing what to start looking at can be hard. In this case, it may make sense to look to a third party to conduct an accessibility audit. Accessibility audits are tests conducted by subject-matter experts to appraise how accessible a product is. The auditor will be able to give you feedback on both your product and, hopefully, your broader business practices.
If you want your business to thrive in today’s economy, one of the best steps you can take is to invest in accessibility. Accessibility helps your company widen its consumer base to accommodate individuals with various ability levels. Even consumers without disabilities will benefit from the accessibility of your products.
This is all to say not only is accessibility the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.