The Power of Digital Accessibility
If you think Digital Accessibility is just for the public sector due to legal obligations, it´s time to change your thinking. Besides the most noticeable part (legal issues), digital accessibility will drive innovation, strengthen your brand, and increase market reach. Investing in digital accessibility benefits your business, leading to positive outcomes in multiple areas of your organization.
When trying to innovate, you often have a clear purpose of what problem you are trying to solve. But even if the problem is specific and the target market has been defined, it often turns out that an innovation is adopted by others as well. This is especially true when it comes to accessibility issues. When you invent something good for people with disabilities, a broader audience will most certainly adopt it. Accessibility features in products and services often solve unanticipated problems. You get the same effect on websites when working with accessibility. Accessible design thinking provides varied and flexible ways for users to interact with websites and applications, options that are useful for people with and without disabilities. An example of how innovation can benefit a broader audience is when video transcription became easy to implement. The main target for this innovation was people with hearing defects, but it turned out to be a perfect feature for everyone who needed to turn off the sound in a public place like a bus or a train.
Accessibility is closely related to general usability – both aim to define and deliver a more intuitive user experience. Some other examples of this kind of innovation are text-to-speech and voice control.
Enhance your brand
Without your brand, you are nothing. You want to connect your brand with inclusion and a genuine sense of Corporate Social Responsibility. If you are not into greenwashing, you will attract new customers and motivate new employees. Employing people with disabilities will strengthen your brand, and it is an essential aspect of creating a diverse workforce, which will create better services for your customers. To succeed, the technology employees use, including websites and applications, must be accessible.
Increase market reach
About 15 % of the world's population have a recognized disability; as the population ages, many more will soon face some disability. If you add persons with temporary accessibility issues like distracting noise or staying in a sunny environment, the number will increase to about 30 %.
Making designs easy for everyone often results in better customer experiences and stronger loyalty. These improvements are essential for customers with disabilities to have the same opportunities. If you are doing e-commerce, you have an extra upside because people with disabilities tend to stick with the brand longer if you do nice things for them (like creating a good online experience). However, accessibility also offers choices that are helpful for all customers in different situations. For instance, web accessibility also helps:
People use cell phones, smartwatches, smart TVs, and other small-screen devices with different ways to control them.
Older individuals whose abilities change as they get older.
People with "temporary disabilities" like a broken hand or lost glasses
Those with slow internet, not much bandwidth, or expensive internet, which happens a lot in rural areas and certain parts of the world.
Minimize Legal Risks
The velocity of the evolution of the Internet has been huge, and the legal aspects have not been able to keep pace, but things are changing. Accessibility laws and regulations are slowly getting in place, and we have seen some fines issued in the last years.
In the EU Directive 2016/2102, the European Parliament made decisions about how public sector websites and mobile apps should be easy to use for everyone. The European Commission adopted the European Accessibility Act, requiring ATMs and banking services, PCs, telephones and TV equipment, telephony and audiovisual services, transport, e-books, and e-commerce to meet accessibility requirements. In short, this will affect many businesses, and they must comply with these rules no later than the 28th of June 2025. The reporting and review period must be completed by June 28, 2030, and every five years thereafter.
In US, we see similar regulations with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).