Working on a new project can be an exciting, even exhilarating experience. The first concepts are fabulous, the client seems friendly, everyone adds their input on how glorious they see the end result and seeing something different to your last big one-year project makes you feel more alive. Soon, however, the reality strikes back and big ambitions are undermined by tight deadlines, small budgets, understaffed teams and oversized customer requests. In the end, it is the budget of a project that decides over the quality of work. So it is no wonder that the project manager, worried about the completion in a timely manner, has reserved feelings on whether to implement accessibility guidelines or not. The client might have told him that he does not care about the blind people anyways since they are not part of his target group. That client probably has not enough proof of positive benefits and is only worried about his money bag, he might even feel that it is some sneaky tactic to make him pay more. However, there are a few undeniable facts underpinning the necessity and benefits of accessible work.
- First of all, it is the right thing to do. Your websites should not be a privilege for only a few. Closing your door to a minority is not only hateful and thus damaging your image, it also hurts your business. Imagine these 2 very simplified examples: You have a small stand selling sweets for kids, but there comes a blind person, being unable to read the price tag, asking you how much a bunch of sweets costs. Who in the world would tell him to leave the stand if he can not read the signs? Another day comes a potential customer in a wheelchair, also asking you about the price of your sweets because your price tags are too elevated for him to be able to read them. Would you just ignore him and watch how he goes to your competitor’s stand who has placed his price tags in a more convenient manner? On the other hand, if you would be known as friendly, having accessible price tags and showing good will towards every customer, my friend, you can be sure that your sales will be tripled next week. Because a good reputation is the best advertisement you can have.
- Maybe I am wrong, implying that you get a larger user base, more sales and that the extra effort is worth it. Maybe the examples I mentioned are too far away from reality and do not match your scenario. As I’m just a human I often make mistakes. So let’s put all the subjective projections, thoughts, imaginary examples and feelings aside and look at the facts. Let’s just look at the number of visually impaired people in the states. Based on statistics from the NFB there are more than 7.5 million visually impaired people in the USA (~2.35%). As Los Angeles has a total population of around 8.4 million, it is safe to say that having an inaccessible website is like excluding almost anyone living in New York City. But that’s only for the visually impaired and an accessible website will also improve the usability for color blind users (~8.5%), people with hearing loss (~15%), people with physical disabilities (~15.1%) and cognitive disabilities (~10% dyslexia + ~3% ADHD). So, statistically speaking, accessibility touches around 53,95% of the population (that is not a marginal group but touches almost anyone). Now, in the USA that would be about 172 Million potential users. Now let’s say only 0.1% of those actually rely on accessible websites and will ever visit yours and out of those 0.1% only 1% will ever buy a product. In terms of figures, you should still have at least 1700 more sales.
- Further, having an accessible website will enhance the page’s ranking in search engines. The so-called crawlers or search bots that index and analyze your website to decide whether your content is relevant or not will rank accessible websites higher. It might change in near future, but for now, those bots are quite likely blind, deaf, dyslexic, ADHD and keyboard-only users.
- Lastly, it may surprise some people to learn that accessibility is actually a law in most countries. For example France, Germany, Austria, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada, USA, China and Japan, to name a few, all have special laws ensuring equal opportunities for people with disabilities in the public sector. Although it might be morally questionable to use fear as an argument, it is a fact that you might get sued when working on a public project without caring about accessibility. To prevent this eventuality, when public organisations are looking for businesses that solve their problems, they are most likely to search for companies that already have references of accessible work and as humans tend to be reluctant to incorporate accessibility guidelines to their workflow, there is a high chance that you get those big extra clients.
In conclusion, we can easily see from these few examples the business value of an accessible website. Accessibility is more than just “the blind people” and actually pays out.
Open up the web for everyone!
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Visual • Low Vision & Color • Physical & Audio • Cognitive