Louise McVicker

Why should web accessibility matter to me?

Interested to know a little more about web accessibility and why it should matter to you and your organisation? Read on... 

What does web accessibility mean?

In a nutshell, web accessibility involves creating online digital resources that everyone can use regardless of ability or disability, language or background. An accessible web benefits everyone. By making the internet more accessible, people have greater flexibility to access digital products, services and information in whatever way they need or want to.

Why does it matter? 

The internet is changing the way all of us live...

our lives and we increasingly rely it.  We pay our taxes online, apply for jobs, book travel and search the web for offers and information that is relevant to us. We are increasingly expected - by businesses and Government alike - to ‘self-serve’ online, giving us convenient ‘24/7’ access to services and information, whilst delivering considerable cost and efficiency savings to organisations. 

But what if a disability or impairment hampers your ability to get online and transact on the web? Around 80 million* people in the EU are affected by a disability or impairment  -  over 11million* people in the UK alone.

Legislation - and humanity - compels us to ensure our public buildings are accessible...

to those with physical disabilities. But just as access ramps facilitate entry to buildings to those with physical impairments, so too should websites have accessibility measures in place for those who need them. Websites are, afterall, the 24/7 ‘shop window’ for most organisations and the portal to access services, products and information.

The European Commission recently issued an EU-wide directive stating that the websites and mobile apps of public sector bodies in member states must be made more accessible for people with disabilities. We are yet to see the exact shape of this legislation in the UK and Ireland, and once this is in place we will undoubtedly see an increase in litigation against non-conformers.
But legislation aside, if you’re not making your digital services, products or information accessible to this group, you are missing out on a large and lucrative market. The ‘purple pound’ is estimated to be worth £212 billion* a year in the UK alone -  and growing, as society ages and more people are affected by disability. 
Research has shown that organisations who meet the needs of this group create loyal customers. They have money to spend, and are influential in how their friends and family buy products and services.  If your website isn’t accessible to this group you are missing out on a lucrative, loyal and influential market.

What can you do?

Small changes can make a big difference. Have a look at the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Developed by web experts around the world, it provides a single shared standard for web accessibility to meet the needs of individuals, organisations, and governments internationally.

Building simple accessibility measures into your website design from the ground up can make a big difference. Have a look at some simple steps to make your web content more accessible on the WCAG website.

Accessibility software is another option, providing a quick and cost-efficient solution without having to redesign your website. 

*All figures from Business Disability Forum


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