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The core benefit of web accessibility is to provide online access to disabled or disadvantaged user groups. What many businesses don’t understand is that prioritising web accessibility has many hidden short- and long-term benefits that make web accessibility even more enticing. Here’s our list of the top 6 hidden benefits of web accessibility.
Web accessibility practices aim to improve the interface and usability of your platforms for people with disabilities, but when doing so, you are actually directly improving the ease of use and experience for everyone. .
Web accessibility requires an efficient structure and design of in-page elements and clean coding to support use of assistive technologies, such as screen readers. By adding these practices into your website you are automatically making the overall structure of your website, pages, and information easier to understand and navigate making for a much better overall user experience. This is especially true for users on mobile devices, elderly users, and those with limited internet connection.
If you are from the Marketing or Public Relations function of your business, you should definitely be looking to promote web accessibility internally regardless of your industry.
The Australian Government currently ensures all Government platforms are accessible, however there is no accessibility standardisation for private companies and most private companies will only pursue web accessibility reactively after receiving complaints or lawsuits from customers. Being a first-mover in your industry can show your users you care about your user base which will directly help create a positive brand perception. Users care when businesses are passionate and advocate for something that directly impacts them or those they care about.
What’s amazing is that 98.1% of home pages worldwide still have web accessibility failures. So many businesses don’t take web accessibility seriously yet, so that presents a massive opportunity for your business to gain competitive advantage and win over customers by showing them you care.
Web Accessibility practices require easy-to-understand user interfaces and in turn clean front-end coding. There are three reasons web accessibility positively impacts your website ranking in Google thanks to Search Engine Optimisation.
Firstly, one of Google’s most important metrics when assessing how websites rank against each other in search results is a websites page load speed. Google sees the speed that a page loads to be an indicator of the user experience that it is delivering. It’s no secret that we all have shortening attention spans, especially online, so Google promotes pages with quicker load times in search results.
Secondly, having a cleaner code structure not only helps keyboard navigation and assistive technologies, but also helps Google’s bots crawl your website. Similar to load speed, Google sees well-structured code as providing a clear information structure and hence a good user experience.
Lastly, there are a number of web accessibility requirements detailed in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) that require in-page information to be conveyed in multiple ways to support a users understanding. For example, images require alternative text to help users with vision impairments to understand the contextual information. Similarly, videos required closed captions to support users with hearing impairments to understand them. What’s great about these text-based alternatives is they provide an opportunity for you to build keyword relevance and density which are key requirements of effective SEO.
In Australia, there are clear policies that regulate the level of accessibility that businesses should provide to their users. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) is the primary legislation that seeks to ensure that people of all races, religions, and abilities are treated inclusively in each and every way, including online.
Due to the age of the DDA (released in 1992), it does not directly describe web accessibility but it is broad enough to encompass online accessibility and has been the core reference point for previous web accessibility lawsuits in Australia, including the Coles lawsuit from 2015.
More and more businesses are putting web accessibility at the front of their digital strategy which is partially due to the legal risks of non-compliance.
Web accessibility provides huge benefits for user groups with disabilities or situational barriers, but benefits are also evident for businesses. Putting web accessibility first can help boost your marketing, sales, and brand reputation, and businesses should not wait for customer complaints before driving an accessibility digital strategy.