How Business Owners Get Ahead With Web Accessibility

By Roy Gefen, Chief Marketing Officer at accessiBe

The internet is a vast resource that society depends on to get everyday activities done such as purchasing goods and services, communicating with one another, and researching valuable information. However, a large portion of the population remains limited in internet access, encountering countless barriers that hinder their user experience and in turn, affect the businesses who wish to include them in the online landscape.

This population is far from niche, with 1 out of every 4 people living with a disability in the U.S. vocalizing their desire for equitable internet access. This market also accounts for $1.2 trillion in disposable income. Meaning that business owners with inaccessible websites are missing out on a significant stream of revenue while remaining vulnerable to legal risk that could result in costly litigation fees. And, with web accessibility lawsuits and demand letters on a steady incline, this legal risk is almost imminent - urging the need for accessible websites more than before.

Web accessibility has become increasingly business-friendly in practice thanks to new technologies. These advanced tools also offer business benefits that should make implementing web accessibility a top priority for all business owners and website managers, alike. On the 11th Global Awareness Accessibility Day, let’s work together as a business community to make the web a more inclusive and accessible place for everyone.

Accessible sites come with rewards

The business of making your website accessible is just that - good business. Not only will a company enhance their brand and open itself up to new revenue, but it will be creating an inclusive business. Website performance will elevate, too; one is likely to see a lift in engagement and click-through rates, and with an enhanced user experience comes stronger SEO. This SEO component will allow a website to reach a higher search ranking and be presented to users with disabilities who will be pleased to see that they can interact with a website with greater ease.

It is not just businesses that will benefit from adhering to this moral imperative and legal obligation. Agencies can rest easy knowing that their clients’ websites are reaping the benefits of an accessible website while mitigating the legal risk they face if their digital assets are not compliant and accessible.

Lawsuits have increased by 320%

Those who neglect web accessibility efforts are no longer going unnoticed. As of 2020, 265,000 demand letters, which typically lead to legal proceedings, were sent to businesses that operated inaccessible websites. Web accessibility lawsuits have seen a dramatic increase of 320% since 2013, with 11,452 federal filings in 2021.

That’s not all, though; a business lost in a legal web accessibility proceeding has been estimated to cost around $75,000 for a first, official penalty. It is safe to say that litigation would be more expensive in the long run, and recent government updates only fortify the actions taken by legal counsel who send out letters and instate penalties.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a new guidance stating that web accessibility falls under the ADA and that businesses’ websites must be accessible to people with disabilities. This guidance ensures that all digital assets are accessible according to WCAG guidelines. If a business owner is unsure of where their website stands in terms of compliance and accessibility, free auditing tools give a holistic overview.

Web accessibility is now accessible

Web accessibility is no longer a complex feat to overcome; if a person lacks the knowledge or resources needed to improve a website’s accessibility, automated solutions are now available to help. These solutions offer inclusivity to a wide range of disabilities that would otherwise be hindered when using a website by providing profiles designated to a specific disability that alters the interface according to need or preference. These same profiles are also in-sync with assistive technologies such as screen readers that are enhanced by the improved user experience of accessible sites.

AI-powered and automated solutions are easy to install and can be done in just a few minutes, with the capacity to continuously scan and update a website’s accessibility standing when new or updated content is identified.

The compliance factor is not one to overlook - with these advanced tools equipped to reach ADA and WCAG requirements shortly after following swift installation.

Web accessibility is a no-brainer

Implementing web accessibility is now affordable and business-friendly, and can help a company achieve the compliance level a website needs to mitigate potential litigation. More importantly, AI-powered and automated tools are available that include people with disabilities online, while improving a website’s performance via a stronger user experience.

This win-win situation is unique to the web accessibility arena. Businesses thrive online as inclusive, lucrative brands and people with disabilities can access the web optimally.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.