January 21, 2019 –

The importance of web accessibility

Author: Leah Benzie
Leah Benzie
Digital Account Manager
Photo by: Lina Kivaka
The internet plays a significant role in a whole range of day to day aspects, including but not limited to education, employment, commerce, healthcare, recreation, and travel.

However, due to barriers in web accessibility, it can be difficult for people with disabilities to access the same online material and services as everybody else. Therefore, web accessibility is important.

Web accessibility is the practice of designing and developing websites, tools, and other technologies to ensure that people with disabilities can easily access, navigate, interact with, and contribute to the web. There are a number of ways to make your website more accessible, however some of the simplest include using header tags in order to structure your content correctly, adding captions to your videos (for anybody who is unable to use audio), ensuring content is navigable using only a keyboard (this is particularly important for users who are unable to use a mouse or trackpad), and using sufficient contrast between text and background colours. Below we have highlighted the benefits of making sure your website is accessible for everyone.

Equal access and opportunities

Everybody should be able to access services, products, and information easily online. Poor web accessibility can mean that people with disabilities are excluded from your products or services and may feel they are being excluded or discriminated against. If all users are able to successfully navigate and interact with your website, you are ensuring that everybody is treated equally.

An increase in conversions

If more people are able to access and utilise your content, you’re likely to see an increase in site traffic and ultimately, conversions. By making your website accessible to everyone, nobody is being excluded, therefore they are more likely to return, and make an enquiry or purchase. Most users would also be likely to recommend a website to their friends and family if they’ve had a good experience, so it’s worth making sure that everybody is catered for with regards to accessibility.

Minimise legal risks

In many countries, there are laws against the discrimination of people with disabilities when providing a service or product. Therefore, if a user with a disability is unable to access any content because a website isn’t accessible, in theory, they could legitimately sue on the grounds of discrimination. Beyoncé was recently faced with a lawsuit, as it’s been claimed that her website violates the USA’s federal disability law by not being accessible for blind people. By ensuring that your website is accessible for all users, you can minimise your risk of a costly court case.

Improve your SEO

Using alt text throughout your website can help to describe anything that cannot be seen. For example, a mobile user may not have enough bandwidth to view a large image but if there is alt text in place, they can be provided with a description of the image instead, allowing them to understand what should be there. Audio transcripts can also be used in order to describe areas of a website to visually impaired users. In addition, if your website is accessible it will be better optimised for search engines, meaning you will begin to rank higher on search results than your competitors who do not practice web accessibility.

So how can you make your website more accessible? First, you need to review how accessible it currently is and establish the areas in which it could be improved. If you are in the process of building or redeveloping a website, the design process is a good place to start. It’s worth noting that simplicity is key - a website with a clearly defined content plan will be more accessible than one filled with unnecessary copy and imagery. Web designers will be able to advise on the best accessibility practices in order to ensure you are meeting the requirements of all prospective customers. Your web development company can then put these recommendations into practice.

If you would like more information, or would like to discuss any of our services, please feel free to contact us.