Website Accessibility is More Crucial Than Ever

What do Burger King, Beyonce, Harvard University, and Nike have in common?

Besides being internationally-recognized brands, these four entities have all been sued for failing to meet accessibility standards for the handicapped. These lawsuits were contingent on The American Disabilities Act of 1990, which was put in place in order to avoid prejudiced user journeys for disabled people using the Internet, just as cities were equipped with wheelchair ramps for those with trouble walking.

Why is this a big deal? For starters, this population is far bigger than most people know. In the US for example, nearly one in four individuals has a disability of some sort. Internationally, there are an estimated 1 billion people (15% of the world population) who are blind, deaf, mute or working with learning disabilities (like difficulty reading). Specifically, 36 million people are completely blind whereas 17 million people are deaf or hard of hearing.

Prior to the new laws, many companies failed to invest in accessibility optimisation. Thanks in part to the sheer volume of disabled individuals in the world, this effectively turns away millions of customers from properly experiencing websites and purchasing goods or services. In other words, a lack of compliance in terms of accessibility not only fuels inequality between disabled and able-bodied individuals but also results in a loss of potential revenue. This can be especially damaging in the long run as disabled customers are some of the most brand-loyal once they’ve found a website they are comfortable navigating. A lack of website accessibility is thus, no matter how you dice it, a very bad thing for everyone involved.

What does an inaccessible site look like? Beyonce’s site for instance lacked alt-text on images, meaning digital screen reading tools for the deaf could not describe an image. Additionally, the website had no accessible drop-down menus, which are intended to provide the visually impaired with an easier means of navigation. Both of these measurements are outlined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, intended to help developers create accessible websites.

There’s also Netflix, which the National Association for the Deaf sued back in 2012. The streaming service was fined a whopping $755,000. On the other side of the fence is Tesco, which invested £35,000 in making their website more accessible and is now earning an additional £13 million per year as a direct result.

With COVID completely disrupting the way we live our lives, web accessibility has become more paramount than ever. Billions of people around the globe are relying solely on e-commerce for essential needs like groceries, meaning that millions of disabled people who used to shop in-person are now turning to the Internet. Websites that invest in accessibility will quickly become or remain favorites for the masses, which will continue to pay benefits long after COVID has passed.

Moreover, the virus has put Baby Boomers in the spotlight for companies concerned with accessibility, particularly because this older generation–not known for being the most technologically savvy–is also now fully dependent on e-commerce. While not technically disabled, their unfamiliarity with online shopping journeys means you may lose them as customers if the issue isn’t remedied immediately.

So the question is, how accessible is your site, and how many customers are you attracting or turning away because of it? LeanConvert is able to provide a full analysis of your website’s accessibility. Click here to get in touch and find out more.