Making a website accessible is no small task, especially if a website has already been made and you are trying to build accessibility back into the site. Making an accessible website takes more deliberate decision making and can make certain enhancements much more difficult program, or take them off the table completely. So why go through the trouble at all? Well, there are some compelling reasons.
You Could be Missing Potential Users
Your target audience may feature more disabled persons than you might think. Somewhere around 15% of the world’s population has some form of disability. In the US around 2.4% of the population has a visual disability. That’s more that 7.6 million people with a visual disability alone. Potential users could also have cognitive or motor disabilities that limit the way they can process or interact with your content. Failing to account for these individuals who are looking for a good, service, or information is a lost opportunity.
Accessible Websites are Easier to Use
Making a website accessible improves the experience for all users, including those that do not have a chronic disability. No one likes trying to read faint gray text on their cell phone with a bright sun beaming down. A strobing background color is not a good design decision. Video elements without controls are not friendly. By adhering to a set of accessibility standards you’ll make your website easier to use for everyone (including web crawlers). High color contrast ensures your website is usable across a wider array of users and use cases. Leave strobing colors to a dance club, and off you website, to ensure the focus is on what really matters, the content.
Accessibility Lawsuits are on the Rise
The number of website accessibility lawsuits filed has grown year over year for the last few years. In 2018 at least 2,258 lawsuits were filed, an increase of 177% over 2017. Major university (Florida State, Harvard, MIT), business (Five Guys, Domino’s Pizza), and celebrity (Beyoncé) websites have been involved in lawsuits. This may be due in part to the lack of clear guidance from the US Department of Justice (DOJ), which has made clear that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) extends to access and use of online services, but has not clearly established what that entails. Hence, many law firms are actively pursuing suits. Adhering to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA level is often considered good enough to avoid a lawsuit. Failing to make your website accessible could prove to be extremely costly.