Technology

Why Web Accessibility Must be a Priority to Every Business, No Matter Its Resources, Industry or Size

By Roy Gefen, CMO, accessiBe

We live in a world where we can pretty much do whatever we want, whenever we want. This is largely thanks to the internet, its ease of use, and the unlimited options we have at our fingertips. It is safe to say that we take it for granted and I for one am reliant on websites for most of my daily activities and tasks.

It takes a sort of epiphany to understand that for 25% of the population, that is not the case. This is because for those of us who do not have a disability or do not work in accessibility, we rarely, if it all, come across web accessibility.

The truth is that if you own a business that has a website, web accessibility is already part of your business whether you know it or not. You might be unknowingly excluding people with disabilities and missing potential revenue or being exposed to web-based ADA lawsuits that are on the rise. Either way, web accessibility has an impact on any business.

Although web accessibility has been around for decades, it has only recently become part of mainstream business must-haves.

If 1 in 4 people would need to muscle their way into your shop, you would do something about it. That’s probably the situation with your business website

Your website is similar to a brick-and-mortar store. People who are out shopping will stop by to consider entering your store. Website owners prioritize customer experience because most consumers will not jump through hoops to purchase your products, and this includes people with disabilities. If your website delivers a frustrating user experience, customers will not come back, let alone recommend your business to their peers.

By actively ensuring that your website is accessible to people with disabilities, you are opening your business to an audience with a global potential buying power of $8 trillion. With such a high willingness to spend and such a low amount of places to turn to, accessible websites are gaining many loyal customers while also doing the right thing

Web accessibility can also mitigate the risk of web-based ADA lawsuits

Without web accessibility, your website is also exposed to ADA lawsuits. They might be rightful or they might be opportunistic “ambulance chasers,” but these days, as business owners, it is important to be aware of the legislation you need to comply with. Since 2017, web accessibility lawsuits have increased by 300% since the DOJ affirmed that websites are considered places of public accommodations under the ADA. Unfortunately, most business owners are unaware of this and are getting caught off guard with demand letters.

The exponential growth in web accessibility lawsuits has a widespread effect across most industries, with small and medium businesses right in the center of the storm. Lawsuit numbers are estimated to continue to increase as the need to enable accessible digital experiences becomes more prominent.

When it seems things just could not get more complicated for businesses with a website, like many times before, technology comes to the rescue.

Thanks to AI and automation, web accessibility is now achievable for all businesses

Web accessibility is not new. In fact, solutions have been in place since the internet was first created. The difference now is that technology makes it achievable for small businesses, which make up 99% of U.S. businesses.

Traditional approaches to web accessibility rely on manual methods. The costs and time of manual labor are out of reach for most businesses who cannot afford to allocate the resources towards remediating their websites and keeping them accessible. Small businesses carefully allocate their resources to initiatives that keep them alive and, in many cases, a $10,000 web accessibility project is just too costly. This is unfair to business owners, and unfair to the millions of people with disabilities around the world.

The increase in awareness of web accessibility, the whopping 98% of inaccessible websites, and more than 1.5 billion people with disabilities have all contributed to the development of solutions available for web accessibility remediation and maintenance. Advancements such as AI and automation are used to create friendly tools for business owners. Easy implementation, automated maintenance, and affordability are all now available with advanced web accessibility solutions.

Most importantly, the technology has been brought to the highest standards of web accessibility, with more improvements every day. Machine learning and computer vision technologies are being used to deliver a comprehensive and enjoyable digital experience for people with disabilities, based on their real-time wants and needs.

We have reached a point where finally web accessibility is accessible to every business owner. From this point on, there should be no more excuses for having inaccessible or non-inclusive websites.

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