Why Your Site Needs to Start Focusing More on Accessibility

Contributed content / By Mansi Dhorda / 21 August 2019

Businesses should focus on making their websites more inclusive so that everyone can use them with ease.

To have a truly accessible website, it needs to be easy to use for everyone. This accessibility includes people with disabilities or impairments. 

Whether it’s a visual problem or an auditory struggle, many internet users can’t visit websites the same way the general population does, and that’s a problem.

Although many web developers have made accessibility a part of their strategy in recent years, websites have failed to make strides toward comprehensive accessibility. 

As a result, many websites can only be used by a certain percentage of the population. This causes problems for many users and limits companies from reaching their complete audience.

The internet is becoming more universal, which means it’s time for web developers and businesses to become more inclusive. 

Here are the top three reasons why you need to start focusing on accessibility today. 

3 Reasons Your Business Should Invest in Accessibility

1) People with disabilities probably use your site more than you think

2) Google rewards websites for being accessible

3) Accessibility is the way of the future 

People With Disabilities Probably Use Your Site More Than You Think

Disabilities can range in severity and affect people in thousands of ways. 

Currently, it’s estimated that around 50 million people in the United States have a disability of some kind, and nearly half of those people have a severe disability.

Additionally, about 19.9 million people have trouble using a mouse or keyboard, which has a direct impact on how they use computers.

If your website isn’t handicapped-friendly, you’re making it inaccessible for millions of potential visitors. Many website owners and developers make the mistake of assuming that most disabled people don’t use the internet. 

According to a study conducted in 2017 by Pew Research, that’s likely because only 50% of disabled Americans feel comfortable using the internet - as opposed to the 79% of non-disabled Americans that do.

How would things be different if millions of additional people in America felt welcomed by most websites and social media platforms?

To truly understand how many disabled people might be trying to use your website, you’ll need to learn more about your key demographic. 

Consider conducting surveys to determine if accessibility is a top priority for your users. 

Moreover, ask which features would make their experience better. You might be surprised by how many people feel excluded by your site’s lack of disability-friendliness.

Google Rewards Websites for Being Accessible

It’s a firm belief of Google’s that everyone should be able to access and enjoy the web. 

As a result, Google has developed several initiatives to make the world wide web easier for disabled people to use. 

One of these initiatives is the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities - which advances ideas and technologies that increase independence and opportunity for people with disabilities.

However, Google doesn’t want to be the only one advocating for change. That’s why the search engine ranks websites higher when they are committed to labeling and tagging their posts. 

When you post an image on your website, you have the capability to add “alternate text.” 

This can be used to bring your photos up in the search engine’s image search, and it can also help people with disabilities understand what the image is.

For example, let’s say your website sells workout plans online

You might post pictures that seem relevant to your topic, but if people can’t see them due to a disability, the message falls short.

Highlight your message by describing the image’s content - “young man lifting weights” or “a woman does yoga outside.”

Selling workout plans online 
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Furthermore, Google likes to highlight websites that are clean, streamlined, and easy-to-understand. Although this emphasis on usability helps internet users of all kinds, it’s especially beneficial for people with disabilities. 

Chrome, Google’s internet browser, also provides tools for disabled people, including magnifiers and text-to-voice interpreters.

The bottom line is that Google wants to promote accessibility, and your website design and SEO will benefit if you take extra measures to do the same. 

We expect to see increasing progressions toward universal accessibility, and it will only help your website if you’re a leader in this movement.

Accessibility Is the Way of the Future

This focus on accessibility isn’t just a passing trend - it’s an improvement in online websites that will continue to grow and change. 

Mandates by governments across the world are increasingly focused on making websites friendly for people with disabilities, and many groups, like the Internet Society, are taking steps to increase community awareness. 

You can certainly expect to hear more about the issue during the coming months and years. Why not educate yourself and make changes now?

As Quartz says, there’s already a blueprint for a more accessible internet. It’s just up to designers to learn it and optimize it. 

Fortunately, industry trailblazers like Apple are making accessibility a priority, not just an afterthought. We’ll continue to see more and more developments with this in mind, including things like hands-free mouse tracking, Braille keyboards, and voice controls.

Instead, check the accessibility of your website now. The Web Accessibility Initiative (W3C) has an entire page that can help. 

Web Accessibility Initiative
Source

Evaluating your website and then reviewing this accessibility list can help you optimize your site. 

Don’t wait until later to jump on the accessibility bandwagon. 

Find your weak spots and address them so that you can target a larger audience and improve your relationships with millions of people who struggle to use the internet.

Make Your Website Accessible 

As a website owner or developer, your number one goal should be to create the optimal user experience while connecting with customers

Up until recently, the focus was on usability, not accessibility, and that limited the capabilities of handicapped web surfers.

Reach for a bigger audience and get up-to-date on the latest trends in accessibility. Your users will thank you for it, and your site will grow as a result.
 

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