Why is web accessibility so important?
Today’s world is a digital one. We are constantly connected by our phones, computers, and digital media. But when these things aren’t accessible, this can impact both individuals and businesses.
Why is web accessibility important for individuals?
The internet is a crucial and indispensable resource that covers just about every aspect of our lives.
As human beings, we rely heavily on websites and digital platforms to access information, products and services for our wellbeing, entertainment or interests.
Individuals with disabilities are most heavily impacted when websites aren't accessible.
Inaccessible websites present barriers to inclusion that make perceiving, understanding, navigating and interacting with online platforms difficult, and sometimes impossible.
Web accessibility ensures that alternative methods for using online platforms are provided to ensure everyone, regardless of their disability, has a way to seamlessly interact with the platform.
While web accessibility is very important to people with disabilities, it also has benefits for many user groups without disabilities.
Here are a few examples of groups that also benefit from accessible web features:
- Aging people with changing abilities
- Users with “temporary disabilities” such as broken arms or lost glasses
- Users with “situational limitations” who may not be able to use all of the website’s features. For example, someone who cannot listen to a video’s audio in a library or on public transport
- People living in rural areas or developing countries where there is limited bandwidth or slow internet connection
As you will continue to learn throughout our Guide, web accessibility promotes better user experiences across the board and impacts all individuals.
Why is web accessibility important for businesses?
The majority of businesses, especially those that are medium-enterprise in size, operate a business website or host a range of digital platforms.
Websites, along with web, mobile, and hybrid apps, play a crucial role in how many businesses connect with, and deliver services or products, to consumers.
Most businesses underestimate the importance of accessible websites.
If a business’ digital platforms are inaccessible, they will be restricted from selling or communicating with customers with disabilities. It’s as simple as that. This means a smaller market and potentially less customers.
Poor web accessibility can also create a poor user experience and can make users disgruntled which can have a direct negative impact on a brand’s customer loyalty and market reputation.
Apart from market share and brand, web accessibility provides many benefits for businesses.
Web accessibility can actually help businesses deliver better digital experiences to other customer groups.
Web accessibility principles overlap with user experience design best practices, and can heavily enhance your website’s usability, mobile responsiveness, and search engine rankings across the board.
Another important consideration for businesses is the legal aspects of web accessibility.
With accessibility to information being a basic human right, many countries regulate web accessibility as an act of discrimination.
In Australia, Government entities are required to provide accessible web platforms under the Digital Service Standards, while private organisations are loosely regulated by the Disabilities Discrimination Act.
So to summarise, web accessibility is extremely relevant and important for businesses.
Web accessibility can support businesses to deliver innovative and high-performing digital platforms, access a wider market, build an inclusive brand, whilst also meeting any legal expectations that are in place.
If you're a business has a website or digital platform, start by considering the following questions:
- Can users navigate your website using just a keyboard?
- Is your website setup so that it works well with screen reading technology?
- Do all of your images have alt text to provide content descriptions?
- Do your website colours clash or cause confusion between text, images and backgrounds?
- Is your platform free from distracting, irrelevant content such as ads?