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7 reasons to prioritise digital accessibility

Posted by Sophie Knight on Mar 5, 2024 10:00 AM

Making your website accessible means making sure it can be used by as many people as possible. Here are 7 reasons you should consider the accessibility of your website...

1. An accessible website makes the experience better for ALL of your users! 

Accessibility is about universality not disability. By making your website accessible, you are ensuring that all of your users have a good experience and are able to easily access your information and services. In many cases, disabled users shine a spotlight on issues that all users are likely to experience but might otherwise be hard to spot. By implementing accessibility best practices, you are enhancing the usability of the site for everyone. 

2. You could be missing out on business opportunities 

Recent statistics indicate that, in 2021, 14.6 million people in the UK had a registered disability. That represents a significant 22% of the total population. These individuals are estimated to have a combined spending power of £17.1 billion. That is a huge market to ignore. By prioritising accessibility you will ensure you are not missing out on a key market.   

3. It’s the law 

You have a legal obligation to factor accessibility into your digital plans. The Equality’s Act 2010 states that “UK service providers must consider ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled people.” While this does not explicitly reference websites and digital services, the consensus is these channels are included. More specifically, since September 2018 it has been a legal requirement for all public sector websites and apps to meet certain accessibility standards and publish a statement saying they have been met. 

These regulations say “You must make your website or mobile app more accessible by making it ‘perceivable, operable, understandable and robust’”. This is currently achievable by conforming with WCAG 2.1 at AA standard. However, in October 2023, W3C pushed live the latest iteration of WCAG – v2.2. For public sector organisations, it looks like the new success criterion are quickly being written into the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations and GDS are giving everyone until October 2024 to bring all websites and apps in line with WCAG 2.2.

4. Accessibility improves the mobile experience 

The mobile experience often presents usability and accessibility challenges, due to the small screen size. For example, buttons, links and other touch points may be difficult for people to activate, either because they have issues with fine motor control due to a disability or they have large fingers that make delicate movements tricky. Likewise, poor colour contrast can make reading text on a smaller screen challenging for those with a registered visual impairment and those that are just a little short sighted. If a website doesn’t adapt well to a small screen, it is likely also not going to work well at high levels of zoom; a necessity for many visually impaired users. Designing with mobile and accessibility in mind will improve the experience across the board.  

5. Accessibility is easy to implement 

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are regarded by the digital industry as being a good standard against which to benchmark the accessibility of websites. WCAG is split into four principles (Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust) under which there are a series of testable criteria that will allow you to identify how well or otherwise your website works for people with disabilities. Checking your website against these criteria is known as an accessibility audit and will give you a clear list of fixes you need to make to make your website accessible. Using a combination of automated and manual testing will ensure the review is thorough.  

6. Futureproof your website 

Accessibility isn’t going anywhere. As awareness of accessibility grows, ensuring your website works for people with disabilities will become the norm. If you are not developing or updating your websites and apps with accessibility at the heart of development decisions, you will get left behind (just like those who failed to adopt mobile-first designs). Ensuring WCAG 2.2 compliance now will make it easy for when the new iteration of the guidelines is the legal requirement from October 2024. WCAG V2.2 has added 9 shiny, new success criteria to benchmark your website or app against.  

7. Demonstrate a commitment to a more inclusive digital world 

Ultimately, we all have an obligation to create accessible online experiences. 14.6 million people may be registered disabled but there are countless more millions who may struggle to use a website that are not represented in this number. Organisations who demonstrate a commitment to meeting the needs of disabled users are likely to reap the benefits of being seen to be corporately and socially responsible. 

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