Businesses with a policy of digital accessibility are committed to ensuring their websites, apps, and all forms of digital materials are accessible to users with different types of disabilities and limitations of mobility, hearing, vision or other conditions.
The lack of web accessibility in websites and online services is still a major concern limiting people with disabilities from experiencing the benefits and conveniences of the internet entirely. An increasing number of digitally inclusive businesses worldwide are embracing web accessibility solutions to bring their services within the access of everyone.
An Example – The E-Commerce Platform
More consumers are now relying on e-commerce than ever before. However, the disabled can find only a very few number of accessible e-commerce channels. More e-commerce businesses realize that they can no longer ignore the importance of web accessibility solutions. Besides, there is an underlying business incentive too. People with disabilities have been reported to have a purchasing power of around $7 trillion, which is a huge market in itself.
Web accessibility is also a trending legal interest globally. Regulations in many jurisdictions now require websites to provide accessibility solutions to users with all kinds of abilities. When businesses overlook web accessibility, they are not only losing a large segment of the market; they are also risking penalties associated with managing compliance requirements.
Growing Demands for Wider Web Accessibility
Businesses are now facing growing pressure from both consumers and governments to provide web accessibility solutions to users with all kinds and levels of abilities. In fact, more and more users are demanding inclusivity with the application of accessibility standards under regulations such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
There has been a surge in the number of lawsuits being filed against businesses that fail to meet these requirements. For example, over 2,250 lawsuits related to website accessibility were filed in 2018.
There are even more incentives for developing such a policy. Businesses that integrate web accessibility solutions are expected to be more innovative and inclusive. Such brands are able to reach more people with a positive message while meeting the growing global legal requirements. According to a study involving Fortune 100 enterprises, disability inclusion is an integral part of the diversity strategy. It is a connected world and accessibility equips businesses better for success.
i. Grow Your Brand
An organization’s commitment to accessibility solutions demonstrates their sense of corporate social responsibility. When your business understands and acts on the diverse needs of all the stakeholders, you can achieve a wider range of benefits. Some of the potential benefits include:
- Improved brand image
- Increase in sales
- Greater loyalty
- Greater workforce diversity
ii. Growth in Market Reach
As already mentioned above, the global market of people with disabilities is vast and mostly untapped. You should know about the following facts if you have any second thoughts about embracing accessibility solutions:
- The actual number of disabled people is estimated at 2.3 billion
- Even in countries with high life expectancies, people spend around 11.5% of their life with some form of disability
- When the population ages, more people become disabled, but are not identified as people with disability
According to a Forrester Research Economic Impact Study, improving accessibility can also help in increasing cost savings. Improved accessibility features also help in improving customer satisfaction.
iii. Reduced Legal Risks
Another strong reason for businesses to embrace accessibility solutions is to reduce potential legal risks. For example, a 2008 settlement involving the retailer Target and the National Federal of the Blind involved $6 million in class damages. The legal fees accounted for more than $3 million for the plaintiff. The legal fee for the defense was undisclosed. All businesses need to take into account the risk and cost of inaction. Web use has become an integral part of the global modern lifestyle.
Over the years, many dedicated laws have been passed in different parts of the world to enforce these rights. Some of the most notable once include the following:
- The Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities or CRPT is a UN human rights document that provides rights to everyone to have equal access to communications technology.
- Ecommerce platforms are required to meet accessibility requirements under the European Accessibility Act.
- The number of legal actions continues to increase in US courts. There is a growing percentage of cases that end up in favor of providing equal access.
How to Make Your Business ADA & WCAG Compliant?
Despite the above-mentioned reasons, there are many studies showing that most websites today fail to meet WCAG compliance requirements. This means that users with disabilities can find it impossible or too difficult to access these sites because their assistive devices will not be able to properly process the navigation or content. In fact, 97.8% of websites fail the accessibility test with one or the other type of element.
Leveraging the Power of AI to Address the Challenge
It is not possible to fully appreciate the value of accessibility solutions like AI-based platforms without knowing the number of inaccessible websites. If your website must become compliant, it is important to adhere to the WCAG standards. There are challenges to this because developing an ADA-compliant site requires advanced technical expertise. It requires conducting in-depth and extensive reviews and audits and changes that can be a time-consuming process.
There is a new line of AI-based solutions that seek to bring major changes in this area by enabling widespread adoption of accessibility solutions. This involves the use of AI to scan websites and make automatic updates to the content and code to adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The tech allows e-commerce platforms to automatically make their shopping cart application accessible to everyone.
Some of the ways these AI-based web accessibility solutions are helping are as follows:
i. Optimizing for Screen Readers
AI-based tools automatically add alt-texts to sites with screen readers to translate different types of on-screen information into speech. Visually-impaired users can thus listen to all forms of information on the website including the verbal description of images.
ii. Improved Navigation
AI-based tools also improve keyboard-based navigation for users with disabilities. Your website will become easily navigable for users having motor impairments. The website will become fully navigable by just using the TAB key. Checkout and order placement will become easier for users with disabilities.
iii. Adjustments to Color & Text
These accessibility solutions tools can also automatically enable an accessibility panel for users with disabilities to access your site based on their specific needs. The panel can be accessed by users with the following disabilities:
- Color blindness
- Various types of visual impairments
They can adjust the font type, size, spacing, and various other aspects to their preferences.
iv. Adding Dictionary
Your website should also be accessible to users with cognitive impairments and the elderly. Such users can have difficulty in understanding jargon, more stylish language, and slang. The latest accessibility solutions add dictionaries to websites to make it easier for users to comprehend web content without having to use additional off-the-page tools.
Web accessibility solutions have become a must-address area for businesses of all sizes and types. With almost everyone having access to internet-connected devices, you can no longer overlook the legal and business implications of ignoring a large section of users. No matter where your business operates, equal access has become a globally recognized essential. If your website and online tools are not already accessible to everyone, at QAIT we have the expertise and the right set of tools in helping you keep up-to-date with the changing times and requirements.