Reasons to Focus on Web Accessibility
Audience: If more people can access your content or product, more people might buy it.
Making your site more accessible to people with disabilities can also help other people:
- People on Mobile
- People with Slow Connections
Numerous studies have shown that increases in accessibility lead to increases in sales.
A Google study of data from the World Bank and the US Center for Disease Control found that there were more blind and low-vision individuals in the US than there were people in Canada.
That’s a lot of people.
Search Engine Optimization
If you create pages that work well in screen readers, you will also create pages that are more easily indexed.
Increases in accessibility can often lead to increases in site speed, which in turn can improve search engine rankings and sales.
Most industrial countries, states, and provinces have formal legislation concerning accessibility.
Many companies or institutions, in fact, have been sued for barriers to accessibility on their websites. In 2008, Target was had to pay $6 million to settle a lawsuit from the National Federation of the Blind. The suit accused Target of not including alt text with images, not identifying headings and navigation semantically, and requiring a mouse or similar device for checkout.
Similarly, H&R Block was sued to force it to improve its website to fix violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
In Canada, the federal government was sued (and lost) in 2010 after a blind individual unable to complete an application on a government website, argued that her constitutional rights had been violated.
An interesting essay compares websites to bricks and mortar businesses:
The laws of most developed countries, including Canada, require that the disabled be given equal treatment as far as possible. This has been interpreted to mean that a place that is open to the public must make arrangements to ensure that disabled people are not unable to get in, or unable to use the services that the place provides. The question then becomes, how does this rule apply to websites, which provide services (information, ticket sales, banking transactions) but are not “places” in a physical sense?
Businesses, in other words, must not, intentionally or otherwise, put up barriers to their provision of service.
There is also a United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD). As this article notes,
Article 9 of the CRPD, titled “Accessibility” recognizes the right of people with disabilities to full participation, including access to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems.
The Moral Argument
It’s the right thing to do.