What Is Web Accessibility and Why Is It Important?

So why is accessibility so important to your website and how can it affect your business’s bottom line?

Firstly, we must define what web accessibility means. Web accessibility is the means of removing any barriers that can prevent a user from using your website successfully. Making a website accessible is the inclusive practice to ensure all types of users can equally access your website’s content and functionality.

This includes users with disabilities such as:

  • Mobility impairment
  • Color Blindness
  • Blindness or low vision
  • Mobility limitations
  • Deafness or the hearing impaired
  • Cognitive disabilities

Why You Should Care

Ensuring disabled users can access your site can affect your bottom line.

You may have thought that disabled users make up a minority when it comes to users of the web, but disabled users are much more common than you might think. The World Health Organization estimates there are 285 million visually impaired worldwide, 39 million blind, and 246 million with low vision. With an inaccessible site, you may be losing millions of these potential customers. Many of these users rely on screen reading software that vocalizes the content on a web page. If your site is not set up with accessibility in mind, these users will find it difficult to navigate your site.

You can be sued for an inaccessible site.

The potential customers lost is not the only thing that will cost your business. Accessibility lawsuits are becoming more common and if you're sued, it could cost you millions. In 2008, Target lost a lawsuit pertaining to the inaccessibility of Target.com. Target agreed to pay class damages of $6 million. The lawsuit also required Target make their site accessible and their progress was monitored and verified by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). A lawsuit such as this can be a huge setback for nearly any business.

It's the right thing to do.

Ensuring your website is accessible for everyone is the ethical thing to do. Everyone should have equal access to experience the education, fulfillment, and joy of the World Wide Web. The Web can affect people in profound ways and limiting access to this wonderful communication channel is simply wrong. For some disabled users, having access to these resources can be life changing which is why we should all take part in making our websites accessible.

Ok, so Web Accessibility is good. What can I do to make my site accessible?

If you're a newcomer to Web Accessibility, head over to the Top 10 Accessibility Checks. This will give you a great foundation to start developing with accessibility in mind. You will also learn how to fix and test your site for the most common accessibility issues. We also post tips and tutorials on a regular basis so make sure to check our articles section out.