For the last several years, website accessibility has grown steadily in popularity. This year, it’s getting even more attention than ever. There are several reasons for this, and all of them impact the business world and society at large. Let’s look at the top reasons why this issue is gaining so much traction.
1: We are more aware of disability needs
People have become more aware of the importance of website accessibility for persons with disability. For good reason, it’s become the consensus that those with visual impairment or physical limitations should be able to use the internet just like everyone else. The way a website is set up determines if these people can access it’s information, goods, and services.
2: Digital expansion worldwide
It’s no secret that the world wide web has grown exponentially over the last decade. With handheld devices, this has led to even faster growth. This means people use and depend on digital access more than ever. If people can’t use a website or app, however, it creates frustration and inequality issues. These unmet needs deserve and get attention.
3: The COVID- 19 crisis
The health crisis of 2020, and it’s associated lockdowns, has accelerated the digital transformation even more. Many businesses have been forced to rely heavily on web based commerce which makes an already challenging situation even harder for those with disabilities.
The crisis is difficult for people who have no obstacles to website access. Imagine how it might be for a blind person to use a website that’s not coded to sync with screen reading technology.
4. Added business advantage
Another result of the COVID-19 crisis is that the competition online is tougher than ever with so many brands flooding the space. In the US alone, people with disabilities control over $490 billion in disposable income. To access that extensive market, however, they need to be able to access and understand your website. The companies that meet this sector’s accessibility needs will win their business.
5: High profile lawsuits
Some of the biggest names have been sued by people who could not use a company’s website due to accessibility barriers. Many of the suits have been settled for huge sums of money. Rolex, Fox News, Amazon, Burger King and dozens more big brands have been sued in ADA accessibility lawsuits. In nearly every case, the court favors the plaintiff.
6. Smaller companies being sued too
The Philadelphia Inquirer described an “explosion” of lawsuits by disabled people, claiming that businesses’ websites and mobile apps are not accessible to them because they were not up to code with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. As more small and medium sized businesses are sued, the popularity of website access grows even more.
7. Commercial brands are increasingly aware
More brands these days are promoting and supporting awareness of website accessibility issues. Some of the reasons outlined here are the sources of motivation (ethical, legal, business advantage, etc.). For instance, Chipoltes’s accessibility statement spells out their support and actions clearly.
8. Assistive technology is more affordable
Even though financial barriers to life-improving technologies still exist, assistive technology has become more available than ever. Advanced tools, like voice activation, are now included in the standard smartphone for example. We often don’t realize that widely available technology may have first been developed for people with disabilities.
9. Accessibility has gone mainstream for developers
In the past, website accessibility was a small niche in a huge ocean of digital solutions. Many developers never even gave it a thought. Today, with all the headlines, companies are inquiring more about the issue. Developers have responded by acquiring the skills needed to make sure anyone who comes to your website can find and understand what they need.
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