Accessibility affects everybody: why you should act now

Web Accessibility removes barriers that prevent people with disabilities using the Web. It means those with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, interact with and contribute to the Web. When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users have equal access to information and functionality.

There is a set of guidelines that specify how to make content accessible, primarily for people with disabilities - but also for all user agents, including highly limited devices, such as mobile phones. Are you aware of these guidelines?

To learn more, we spoke to Mario Ballario, who leads our Experiential Design team in Geneva, specialists in Web Accessibility solutions.
 

Leading brands and businesses are being held accountable

Mario explained the recent rise in lawsuits, “Recently we heard of some luxury brands who were subject to lawsuits. Web Traffic Accessibility lawsuits happen in all industries and tend to happen to companies with sites that get a lot of traffic. Obviously, the more people who visit a site the more likely it will be that people will discover its flaws,” says Mario. The companies that have been sued so far have all been pretty big: 16/45 are Fortune 500-1000, 11/45 are Fortune 101-500, 8/45 are Fortune 100. The bigger or the more famous is a company/brand, the higher the risk.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Regulation prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in “places of public accommodation,” covering businesses and non-profit agencies which serve the public and “commercial facilities.”

“The risk of lawsuits is extremely strong in the United States. Anybody selling or providing services through a website to the USA is susceptible to Accessibility lawsuits. There is an average of 24 ADA-related lawsuits filed per day, which puts the annual number around 9000,” advises Mario.

Why you should implement web accessibility

On top of the legal risk there are many other good reasons to implement accessibility.

Better UX Through Accessibility: “If you implement UX you get accessibility, if you implement (some of the rules of) accessibility, you get usable design,” he says.

SEO: Better HTML markup structure, alternative text, etc. are good for SEO and for accessibility.

Design, Development, Maintenance Costs: Accessibility enforces W3C standards, as a consequence, the code is more solid and less likely to contain bugs and there will help to reduce maintenance issues.

Buying Power of Persons with Disabilities: The ROI here is obvious, more customers = more revenue. There are an estimated 15% of people with disabilities.

Aging Population: Let’s not forget that population is aging and that brings a number of related disabilities. Baby Boomers account for 48% of US families and have over $2,000,000,000 in buying power.

Social factors: It's the right reason to do it. But it's also part of the Corporate Social Responsibility activity of most companies. It's an extremely good and often unexploited public relations and marketing opportunity.

Getting started: Tackle accessibility

Strategy

Accessibility is a path, you can’t get perfection right away.

We can review your current situation and help you to:

  • Define the changes needed by your organization (both at the human and IT level)
  • Create a roadmap (analyze your situation and propose solutions)
  • Grasp the concepts (small workshops to explain the situation)
  • Raise internal awareness (organize a structured training for your employees)

Development

It’s important to act early, as implementing accessibility from the beginning is much easier than fixing. We can:

  • Design with accessibility in mind
  • Develop new websites and digital products
  • Fix pre-existing situations

Testing

  • Run audits to identify issues or new requirements
  • Prepare reports and analysis
  • Propose improvements, quick wins
  • Run periodic reviews to ensure accessibility is maintained at the right level

To contact Mario for expert advice, please email him: Mario.Ballario@b-i.com or call +41 58 307 70 61

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About the author

kirk havelock
Kirk Havelock

Kirk drives internal and external communications according to company goals, ambition, values and culture, to support objectives throughout Dentsu Aegis Network.