Before we dive back into the nitty gritty of accessibility, let’s take a quick walk in someone else’s shoes.
Imagine crossing at an intersection blindfolded, listening and feeling for the movements of parallel and perpendicular traffic, the directional whoosh of other pedestrians gliding by, and if you are lucky the ‘tck’ ‘tck’ ‘tck’ ‘tck’ ‘tck’ indicating a safe time to cross.
For those among us with low vision or blindness, navigating a street crossing can be tough. So as a society, we provide some nifty tools to help them out. From the fun sounding stuff such as rotating cone tactile equipment to tactile paving and audible crossing signals.
Accessibility online is the same thing and increasingly its value is being recognised by modern businesses with a desire to embrace all users.
The winners and losers
Who misses out when you aren’t accessible? The answer here is… pretty much everyone.
Being accessible isn’t just something you do with a small community of users in mind. It’s actually something that benefits all users. For instance, tabbing through a website isn’t just useful for those unable to use a mouse, it's actually a convenient and quick way to browse.
Some people use subtitles for convenience, too. In fact, 80 per cent of TV viewers were found to use closed captioning for reasons other than hearing loss. And what about the way we use language online? Not only does simple and clear language provide clarity for the average user, it helps those with cognitive learning difficulties or different language skills interact with your site.
But the biggest opportunity lost is for businesses who choose not to become WCAG 2.0 compliant.
There are four million Australians with disabilities, two million colourblind Australians and three and a half million Australians over 65, whose chance of disability or other impairment increases as they get older. And there are numerous others who have repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis.
When you add all this up, it builds a very strong picture of the unrealised potential and buying power of millions of users around Australia.
Not just a business decision
There are a number of arguments for building accessible websites, but none carry the weight of the most obvious: It is the right thing to do.
The internet was built for everyone: disabled users, users not proficient in a language or with low literacy, new and infrequent users, and even users with low bandwidth connections or an iPhone 5.
Access to the internet is a basic human right, according to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
An accessible website is inclusive but a website that isn’t shuts people out, eroding brand loyalty and trust, and never giving it a chance to flourish.
How deep into accessibility do you jump?
The good news is the pathway to accessibility is not difficult. There are three levels of accessibility, which we covered in our last blog.
Each level allows more users access your site than the last. For the best bang for your inclusive buck we recommend you look at moving your website towards a ‘AA’ rating. Want to know more? Get in touch today.
May 18, 2017 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day where the purpose is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion, so get the conversation started with your friends and family.