When it comes to creating a website, many small business owners focus on the design of their site (which is obviously important) and forget one of the most important aspects they should be paying attention to: website accessibility.
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Did you also know that 98% of websites don't offer full accessibility? This means that a huge population can’t read, understand, or access most websites.
So take a moment to reflect on your own website - would you say that it’s accessible for people with a disability? Can blind people book a service through your website? Can people with ADHD focus on your text?
Most business owners focus on visual design: colors, fonts, photos, etc. It’s time we add accessibility to the list of must-haves for any website. Not only is it illegal to not have an ADA compliant website, but a huge audience of potential clients/buyers are being completely ignored.
In this article, I will share what the ADA is, what could happen if your website isn’t accessible, and how to easily make your website accessible and compliant (it’s easier than you think!)
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, and communication. As it relates to websites, Title III of the ADA covers the requirement that businesses must make "reasonable modifications" in their customer service policies or practices to accommodate individuals with disabilities. This is something that is largely overlooked when businesses create their websites.
People with Disabilities Are Underserved
During my speech class in college, I had to do a hands-on presentation. So I chose to do a simple speech on color theory. Specifically with cookies, frosting and the primary colors. I was teaching the class how you can make your secondary colors by using red, blue and yellow.
At the end of class I had someone come up to me and say, "Hey, this was a cool presentation, but I wasn't really able to participate because I'm color blind and couldn't see the difference between two of the three colors."
I was shocked because I wouldn't have even thought to ask the class if anyone was, or how I could have altered the speech to be more accessible. This was back in 2017, so since then, I've been doing what I can to learn about accessibility when it comes to brand and website design. Especially for my clients who are wanting to reach these 50 million people that don't get enough attention in the design world.
Just like anyone else, those with disabilities want and need access to the same every day tools the majority of the population does.
The biggest of tools are websites. Think about how often and how many websites you utilize in a day, whether it be for shopping, research, or entertainment. 75% of Americans with disabilities report using the internet on a daily basis. If you're anything like me who is building a business from an aligned and heart-centered space, then setting your business up for all to access is a part of that mission.
The ADA and Your Website
There are many different types of disabilities:
Visual impairments such as low vision or blindness
Auditory impairments such as deafness or hard-of-hearing
Mobility impairments such as paralysis or use a wheelchair
Mental health issues such as depression
All of these disabilities can be accommodated by making sure that your website is accessible for those using assistive technologies (like screen readers for people who are blind).
This is a largely underserved and growing market, and making adjustments to your website may serve as an under-the radar competitive advantage.
Accessibility makes it easier for all visitors to use a site, helping improve the customer experience as a whole. An additional benefit is that many of the factors that make a website accessible also make it easier to index by search engines. With people now accessing sites from a variety of devices, making your website accessible can help increase conversions by improving the overall customer experience for visitors to the site.
Legal Risks of Not Having an Accessible Website
If your website is not ADA compliant, not only are you ignoring a massive portion of the population, you’re also risking legal issues. It is important to note that failing to comply with the law can lead to lawsuits, fines and other legal action. While it’s scary to think about, you could be sued by a disabled person because they feel they have been denied access to your online content. You could lose business, customers, and damage your reputation.
Major companies have gotten into some legal trouble: Target and Netflix were sued due to their website inaccessibility. And small businesses certainly don't get away with website accessibility, either. In 2020, there were over 11,000 lawsuits due to inaccessibility!
The Tool that Makes Your Website Accessible: accessiBe
Now for the most exciting news!! There is an EASY solution to reach a bigger audience AND mark yourself safe from any legal lawsuits.
While learning about website accessibility, you may be stressing:
“I have to change my whole website!”
“This is going to take forever to make all the necessary changes!”
“What if I miss something and my website still isn’t accessible? How am I supposed to know what to do with it?”
Let me introduce you to accessiBe, the easiest and might I say COOLEST tool in making your website accessible. They do it all. Let me repeat: THEY DO IT ALL. You just need to sign up for their service and they take care of the rest. They do a full audit of your website, apply their incredible accessibility tool to your website, and voila! Your website is ADA compliant and accessible to millions more people.
"Website accessibility is a crucial culture shift for an inclusive society."
How accessiBe Works
The accessWidget tool is a button on your website that people with disabilities can click on and select what they need in order to enjoy your website. The widget includes options for Seizure Safe, ADHD Friendly, Blind Readers, Cognitive Disability, and so much more.
Since you're reading this blog now, you can see the accessiBe icon on the bottom right of your screen - click on it to see all the functions! You can also watch the video below to see how it works:
Reach Larger Audience While Being ADA Compliant
I hope this article helps you consider taking some steps toward making your website accessible to all. Accessibility, unfortunately, is not usually on the top of the list when it comes to running a business - but I'm hoping with more awareness, and amazing tools like accessiBe, it will become a top priority!
Are you ready to make your website accessible?? Click here to learn more!