62% of accessibility specialists said that the COVID-19 pandemic raised awareness of digital accessibility. But while having an online presence is an unspoken rule for businesses in the modern day, website accessibility is still widely overlooked. Not only is website accessibility important for legal compliance, but it’s also important for providing equitable digital experiences.
Website accessibility refers to the idea of building websites so that they can be effectively navigated and understood by everyone, including those with disabilities.
That means all the content on your website, whether you’re selling products online, blogging, or displaying visual content, should both ensure a great user experience (UX) and accommodate people with a range of disabilities – visual, physical, speech, auditory, or cognitive, for example. This could mean including captions on a video for the hard-of-hearing or alternate text to describe visual assets for the blind.
Approximately 1.3 billion people worldwide experience significant disability – that’s 16% of the world’s population. In this case, website accessibility means designing websites with these people in mind. It’s an important way to make sure everyone has the chance to be able to access your digital content and interact with your business.
As the customer experience is usually a big factor in whether someone purchases your products or uses your services, you’ll want to make website accessibility a top priority in your business. Here are a couple more compelling reasons why it’s important:
- Inclusivity/Good customer experiences: Having an accessible website is like letting people know that everyone’s experience matters to you, which can foster incredible goodwill and brand loyalty.
- Increased audience reach: As 16% of the world lives with a disability, that’s a large demographic that you may not reach without an accessible site.
- SEO benefits: Accessibility compliance positively affects search engine optimization. Although it’s not a direct ranking factor, accessibility lets the algorithm understand your content and boosts searchability.
- Legal compliance: In many countries, there are now laws in place that require websites to be accessible. In Canada, for instance, there’s the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) that states that all Canadians should have the right to partake in all aspects of society.
If you have yet to make your website accessible or are looking to create an accessible website from scratch, there are many easy ways to do so.
- Use alternate text for images: Alternative text, or alt text, essentially provides a description of an image. This allows those with impaired vision to have the screen reader read these descriptions aloud for them.
- Have clear navigation: Website navigation should be as easy as navigating a store in person. Use clearly-labelled buttons and menus, and don’t over-clutter.
- Make sure it’s keyboard friendly: Navigating a website with a mouse isn’t always an option for those with physical disabilities, so make sure your website can be keyboard-navigated.
- Format content correctly: Having clear and concise formatting will do wonders when it comes to browsing your site. It also makes things easier for people with cognitive disabilities when content is broken up using lists, subheaders, and the like.
- Add captions for multimedia: Always include captions for audio and video content for those with impaired hearing so they can access that type of content.
As life continues to be increasingly carried out online, all businesses need to be part of the common goal of making the internet accessible. It’s not just a human and moral responsibility but also a strategic business decision that could expand your reach.
If you’re looking to curate an accessible and successful website for your business, Begin with B is a great place to start. We’re a Calgary-based web design agency with an expert team that has over 17 years of experience. Our blog covers everything from writing website copy that sells to how the colour of your website can influence visitors.