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The Importance of Website Accessibility in 2022 and Beyond

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

website accessibility ada compliant website

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was implemented in 1990. This groundbreaking legislation guarantees that individuals with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else.

Most individuals are familiar with the physical accommodations businesses must make so their premises are ADA-compliant (like wheelchair ramps and automatic door openers). However, many people don't realize the law also applies to the digital world. This means that enterprises serving the public must ensure that their website content can be consumed by everybody, regardless of their abilities.

Why Does Accessibility Matter?

Boosting your site's accessibility makes it more inclusive, ensuring that nothing stands in the way of people exploring all the wonders of your business's location in cyberspace.

Approximately 15% of the planet's population has some sort of disability. That means one billion people don't experience the world the way most people do. Online accessibility levels the playing field by giving everyone access to the same experiences.

This is crucial because the Internet is no longer a luxury—it's an essential part of the way we live our lives. Enterprises lose an astounding $6.9 billion a year in revenue because individuals with disabilities cannot access their sites. So, making your site more accessible not only improves the user experience—it also boosts profits.

It’s an undeniable fact that making your site more accessible improves the user experience for differently-abled site visitors. However, many older Americans with relatively mild

age-related impairments such as reduced visual acuity also benefit.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

These days, companies need to meet stringent physical accessibility requirements or face significant legal repercussions. Ensuring your site is ADA compliant protects you from potentially costly lawsuits that could irrevocably harm your reputation. While the looming threat of legal action shouldn't be why you jump on the web accessibility bandwagon, you still need to protect yourself.

The current rules for online ADA compliance are contained in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). There are four criteria that a site must meet to be considered friendly to those with disabilities:

PERCEIVABLE: Visitors must be able to access information on your site in a way they can perceive.

OPERABLE: Visitors must be able to navigate your website regardless of their abilities.

UNDERSTANDABLE: Information and the operation of the user interface must be clear to all site users.

ROBUST: Your site should be compatible with a wide variety of assistive technologies so that differently-abled people can access it.

The WCAG guidelines can be more than a little bewildering for business owners new to web accessibility. Here are a couple of things you can do to implement these principles in a practical way:

Add Alt Tags

An alt tag is text that labels a webpage element, whether it's an image, applet, or embedded piece of media.

This ensures that people with impaired vision understand the message the image conveys, which is done by having the descriptive text read to them by their assistive device. Alt tabs are particularly crucial for information-laden images such as infographics.

The exception is if an image is only used for decorative purposes. In this case, leave the alt text blank, so the screen reader knows to skip it.

Provide Captions for Video Content

For the visually or auditorily impaired, consuming site content can be an exhausting task instead of a delightful diversion. For example, over 390 million people have some form of hearing loss. Including captions in your videos helps visitors with auditory disabilities understand what your business is all about.

A side benefit to doing this is that videos with captions are usually watched for a more extended period. For example, video ads hold a visitor's attention for 12% longer when they have captions.

Adding audio descriptions helps ensure that digital content is accessible to those with visual impairments, providing additional context and commentary on what's happening on the screen. It makes the content clear without having to rely on visuals.

Use Headings in the Right Way

A screen reader allows blind or visually impaired individuals to use their computers. This kind of assistive technology uses heading structure to navigate website content. This means you'll need to correctly use headings (such as H1, H2, etc.) so that those with disabilities can easily navigate from one part of your website to another.

Check to make sure you stick to the correct heading order so you don't confuse screen readers. For example, only use H1 for the page's title, and refrain from skipping heading levels such as inexplicably going from an H1 to an H3.

Benefits of ADA Compliance

Helps You Reach a Bigger Audience

If your site isn’t ADA-compliant, you’re missing out on millions of potential customers who won’t be able to understand why they should buy from you. While they might be interested in what you’re selling, they won't be able to navigate your site well enough to make a purchase. This could drive them to competitors that offer solid accessibility options.

For example, let's say you have a video that extolls the tremendous benefits of your merchandise. If it doesn't have captions, people with auditory disabilities won't be able to find out what makes your products so fantastic.

Also, an ADA-compliant site is exceedingly easy to read, easy to find, and well organized. This improves the user experience for everyone.

Boosts SEO

Assistive technology, such as screen readers, crawl web pages in a similar way to search engines. If your website adheres to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, it's easy for Google to navigate your site. This can boost your search engine rank. As a result, you'll benefit from increased visitor traffic even outside the differently-abled community.

Also, while search engines can’t pull keywords from videos, they can read video transcripts. That’s why you should consider publishing your transcripts as blog posts. Doing this not only makes your site more accessible for the hearing impaired but will give your SEO a nice boost.

Enhances Your Reputation

By making your site ADA-compliant, differently-abled site visitors will realize how incredibly valuable they are to you. These new customers might tell friends, family, and acquaintances that you're putting in the effort to make your site more inclusive. This could set you apart from competitors who lag in ADA compliance.

How To Make Sure Your Website is ADA Compliant

Whenever a website boosts its accessibility, the world gets one step closer to an equitable Internet where everyone's abilities are recognized and respected. By ensuring your site is ADA-compliant, you help those with disabilities consume your content, making your site experience more enjoyable for all.

If you've been wondering if your website is ADA-compliant, we're here to help. Contact us today to get a free scan of your site.

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