Why is web accessibility important for the private sector?

The UK government required that all public sector organisations make their websites accessible by September 2020. Now that public sector websites must be accessible, what does this mean for the private sector?

If you own a business that has a website, web accessibility is already part of your business – and yours may be letting you down. You may be unknowingly excluding people with disabilities and missing out on potential revenue.

Web accessibility is about ensuring that your business’s digital content can be accessed, understood and used by everyone. Businesses benefit from designing their website so that everyone, including those with disabilities, can use it as easily as possible.

Women sign language to a laptop

Why accessibility matters

It is now estimated that over 15% of the world’s population (over one billion people) are living with some form of disability or impairment.* In the EU alone, one in four people live with a disability or long-term limitation to their everyday activities.*

Although digital technology has made strides in making things easier for people with disabilities, many services are still not designed with accessibility in mind. Poorly designed and inaccessible tech is making it difficult for people to connect with your business.

Why is accessibility important to consider for the private sector?

  1. Increase your business's market reach and revenue

People with disabilities form the largest minority group in the world. In the UK 19%* (1 in 5) of working-age adults are disabled. If 1 in 5 people had difficulty making their way into your physical shop, you would do something about it. The same should go for your website. Especially considering this minority group have an estimated spending power of more than £4 trillion.*

You will miss out if you don’t prioritise accessibility as more than 80% of people with impairments have decided not to trust a service provider due to barriers*, with poor web accessibility being a major one. Furthermore, a UK study in 2016 found that 71% of customers with disabilities click away if a website is difficult to use.*

The number of people considered to have a disability is also growing. On average, we now spend 6 years of our lives being disabled. With ageing populations, the elderly world population is expected to double by 2050.* Ensuring that your online presence is accessible will allow you to attract customers from a range of age groups and enable you to maintain lifelong relationships with your customers.

You want to design with accessibility in mind to enable people with a range of abilities and disabilities to navigate and engage with your corner of the web.

Dark blue upwards arrow showing growth
  1. Build a reputation as a business that is socially responsible

Consumers today are socially conscious. People tend to support a business that aligns with their values.

A survey in 2018 found that consumers both old and young would choose to shop at a retailer that demonstrated a commitment to inclusion and diversity, with 51% of people aged 21-27 seeing this as an important factor, and 69% of people aged 28-37.*

Putting in the effort to consider all abilities and disabilities, and adapting your website to these, will showcase your business as one that has social responsibility and cares about its customers. It will put you in good stead to be a reliable and reputable business.

  1. Increase your SEO

Anything you do online to better your business is intangibly linked to SEO. By incorporating accessibility into your web design, you will be increasing your SEO.

Many modifications that you will make to your website to increase its accessibility will be a valuable support to search engines in deciphering your content. For instance, adapting to the needs of visually impaired users will involve working on video transcriptions, image captioning, header tags, etc., to enable them to better decipher your content. These modifications are similar to those that will improve your SEO, as search engines also rely on these things to read and understand content. This will help search engines to present content to your users and/or determine the relevance of your content.

Increasing your SEO in this way will boost the credibility of your business. Websites that rank highly on search engines are typically considered high-quality and trustworthy by users – results on the first page of a google search typically get over 90% of traffic.*

Making your website more accessible will give your business a competitive advantage, and will lead you to attract more potential new customers and increase your potential revenue

SEO typed out in light blue on a black background

  1. Avoid the risk of lawsuits

As previously mentioned, from September 2020 it became a legal requirement for all public sector organisation websites to be accessible. A similar attitude has been adopted towards private companies and their websites. It is now expected by law that businesses and service providers treat all consumers the same. In the UK, the Equality Act of 2010 says that providers must consider “reasonable adjustments” for disabled people online.

Not doing so can have very real repercussions for your business. In 2019, a lawsuit was filed against Domino’s Pizza by a blind man Guillermo Robles, when he was unable to order a pizza through Domino’s website, despite using a screen reader. The supreme court ruled against the pizza giant, arguing that if businesses do not have to maintain accessible sites, disabled people could be shut out of portions of the economy. *

Businesses now need to treat accessibility as a necessity. By taking the needs of your customers with disabilities into account when designing your website, you can make yourself less vulnerable to legal scrutiny.

Conclusion

Overall, great web accessibility is crucial in ensuring your business is a success. If you fail to consider accessibility, you fail to include everyone, and you therefore, exclude people (and revenue) from your business.

If you want to improve the accessibility of your website, contact our experts today to kick-start your accessibility journey!

References:

https://humanity-inclusion.org.uk/en/action/disability-the-global-picture#:~:text=One%20billion%20people%20around%20the,disabilities%20live%20in%20developing%20countries.&text=Jay%20Clark%2FHI-,One%20billion%20people%20around%20the%20world%20live%20with%20some%20form,15%25%20of%20the%20global%20population.

https://siteimprove.com/en-gb/blog/why-the-private-sector-needs-to-plan-for-digital-accessibility/

https://www.scope.org.uk/media/disability-facts-figures/#:~:text=There%20are%2014.1%20million%20disabled%20people%20in%20the%20UK.

https://siteimprove.com/en-gb/blog/why-the-private-sector-needs-to-plan-for-digital-accessibility/

https://www.toptal.com/designers/ui/importance-web-accessibility

https://www.mando.agency/news-insights/is-lacking-digital-accessibility-damaging-your-business

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-health

https://siteimprove.com/en-gb/blog/why-the-private-sector-needs-to-plan-for-digital-accessibility/

https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2013/06/20/no-1-position-in-google-gets-33-of-search-traffic-study/#:~:text=No.-,1%20Position%20in%20Google%20Gets%2033%25%20of%20Search%20Traffic%20%5BStudy,of%20Page%201%2C%20Position%201.

https://www.investisdigital.com/blog/corporate-communications/dominos-pizza-accessibility-lawsuit-what-you-need-know

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