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Why Accessibility Should Be a Top Priority for Every Business Website

Imagine how frustrating it would be to land on a website you couldn't use. That’s what over 57 million people experience every day when visiting websites that seem to have decent enough UX/UI. Websites just like yours that look great, convert well, and cost your company a lot of money.

Over 99% of the internet has an accessibility problem. The problem? Less than 1% of websites are ADA compliant. That means 1 in 5 Americans have some level of difficulty using almost every site on the web.

The standard for ADA compliance on the web can be found in the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines. The most recent version, WCAG 2.0 AA, lays out clear guidelines for making websites accessible for individuals with a wide range of disabilities. With WCAG 2.1 slated for a release during the summer of 2018, the accessibility landscape is about to get even more complicated. As we’ve already stated here, very few websites meet these guidelines. And even fewer web developers have the capabilities to implement them. In other words, we’re a long way from a fully accessible web.

The main objection businesses have against ADA compliance and web accessibility is the cost. It’s not a cheap or easy fix. But it is a necessary one if you want to maximize your reach and protect your business. If those two things aren’t part of your business plan, then you’re probably on the verge of failing and don’t really need to worry about web accessibility. For everyone else, here’s why you need a web accessibility plan right now.

Reach All Your Customers

You probably have a good idea who your target customer is, and you probably designed your current website with that customer in mind. But you probably didn’t consider the high probability that your target audience includes a lot of customers with accessibility needs. There are over 57 million disabled individuals in the United States alone. The disability market has over $544 billion in disposable spending power. That’s a lot of customers and a lot of money you’re losing if your website isn’t accessible.

From a revenue standpoint, you can’t afford to miss these customers. 71% of disabled customers will immediately abandon a site that isn’t accessible, and they’ll never return. But money aside, you want to be able to provide your products and services for all your potential customers because that’s why you’re in business to begin with. Right now, you simply can’t do it because your website isn’t accessible.

Every Business Has Customers with Accessibility Needs

Some businesses may be tempted to discount this market with sweeping statements like “but disabled individuals don’t use our products or services.” This is categorically false. Every business has disabled customers. Unfortunately, there's no data in analytics that shows how many disabled customers are visiting your website, so it can be difficult to see how much money you're losing by having a non-accessible website. To really understand just how much this can impact your business, it’s essential to understand the wide range of disabilities covered by ADA and addressed by WCAG.

Roughly 20% of Americans have a vision, physical, cognitive, or auditory disability. Your website needs to be accessible to everyone whether they’re color blind or physically unable to use a mouse or keyboard. No business can say, “But none of my customers are color blind, in a wheelchair, or partially deaf.” And that only covers a small sliver of the disabilities that require accessibility on the web.

Additionally, many users with accessibility needs depend entirely on the internet to get their shopping done. If your site is one of the few in your industry that offers a user-friendly experience that accommodates their specific disability, then you've gained more than a lifelong customer. You've gained a loyal brand advocate.

Accessibility isn’t something you can pick and choose. It needs to be done right so you can reach every customer regardless of their disability. You might think you can cut some corners because you’re confident that a quadriplegic has no use for your products or services. This is the type of discrimination that not only can cost you a customer, but it can also lead to a lawsuit against your business.

Avoid Expensive Litigation

Lawsuits can cost your business a lot of time and money. They can also hurt your reputation or even force you to shut down entirely. The number of website accessibility lawsuits is increasing at a rapid rate, and no business sector is immune.

Accessibility litigation is by no means a new thing. Bank of America was the first victim, settling a web-accessibility lawsuit back in 2000. The first major class-action lawsuit in the U.S. was brought against Minneapolis-based Target in 2008. The damage was $6 million plus another $3.7 million in legal fees. Three years later, Wells Fargo paid out $16 million after a similar lawsuit was filed. Things are really ramping up now. There have been tens of thousands of demand letters, and lawyers are pursuing companies of all sizes with accessibility litigation.

Every Business Is a Potential Target

Of course, you’re probably thinking that no one will come after you. You’re not a Fortune 500 company, so it’s not worth the lawyer’s time to pursue you. In a lawyer’s mind, that makes you an easy target. You might not have to fork over millions, but you'll be a good candidate for a quick settlement that will put a huge strain on your business.

Thus far, the industries most impacted are banking, e-commerce, dining, medical, and hospitality. However, lawsuits are starting to permeate into all markets, and no business is exempt regardless of size. You either need to budget for website accessibility or for an accessibility lawsuit. Investing in website accessibility is going to be much better for your business in the long run.

Make Your Site Accessible Today

Every day you wait to pursue website accessibility means more lost customers and a greater chance for expensive litigation. Web accessibility shouldn’t be viewed as another expense for your business. Rather, it should be viewed as an opportunity to expand your customer base and protect your business. Even more importantly, it’s an opportunity to make the internet a better place for everyone.

Have questions about web accessibility and what you need to do to be ADA compliant? Contact us today to learn more.

Contact First Scribe today for web accessibility solutions that will help you reach all of your customers.