Making the internet accessible for everyone has been a long time coming. Recently, there has been a big push to make sure that your website and digital content can be used and enjoyed by everyone.
Website accessibility is making your website usable to the largest portion of the population possible, regardless of their ability. Generally, it ensures that content is accessible to people with disabilities – visual impairment, auditory limitations, motor control difficulties, learning disabilities, age-related impairments, and more.
If your site is not properly equipped to function with assistive technology, people with disabilities will be blocked from engaging with your content. It is like building a restaurant without a ramp for wheelchairs. It’s against the law and uncommon, and the same standards should apply to websites.
Here are five things that people get wrong about website accessibility.
1. Only a small portion of the population has a disability
This is one of the biggest things people get wrong about website accessibility, and it likely stems from the general lack of awareness around invisible disabilities. Not all disabilities are going to be immediately apparent to the untrained eye, but that does not mean they don’t exist.
In the United States, approximately 26% of adults are living with a disability. Not having an accessible website essentially cuts off more than a quarter of the United States population—a much bigger portion than you first thought.
2. It’s expensive and time-consuming to make a website accessible.
This is not the case. It does not have to be expensive or time-consuming to make your website accessible. In fact, almost two-thirds of the accessibility issues can be found and addressed using automated technology.
More and more website builders are including these tools in their platforms, so reach out to your website provider first to see what they offer.
3. Automation and artificial intelligence equal accessibility
While AI has come a long way and automation is getting better and better, it will not find and fix every accessibility issue. A computer is just not good enough at interpreting intent or contextual meaning, and automation is still too limited and could put your company at risk for non-compliance.
Both automation and AI are important tools to help with accessibility, but they need to be paired with human oversight and guidance to work to their full potential.
4. You only need digital accessibility for people who are blind or have low vision
Most people incorrectly assume that visual impairments are the most prominent disability impacted by an inaccessible website.
Both mobility and cognitive issues impact a higher percentage of the population than visual impairments. Accessible websites are incredibly important for people who cannot move with arms or hands, as well as people with dyslexia and need the option for more legible fonts.
The bottom line: having an accessible website improves your website and easier to use for all people.
5. Digital Accessibility Applies Only If…
Many people think that digital accessibility only applies in the United States, if you have a brick-and-mortar store, or if you employ more than 15 people, and none of those are true.
Yes, the U.S. has one of the strongest legal frameworks around accessibility but the EU, UK, Canada, Australia, and Israel all have well-developed legislation too, and you should keep that in mind. Regardless of geography, it’s important to make your website, content, and business accessible to all of your visitors.
As far as the brick and mortar store, it’s best to make sure your site is accessible regardless of a physical location to make sure you are protected from legal challenges, and this also applies to the size of your business as well. It doesn’t matter how many employees you have, you need an accessible website.
Website accessibility is good business, and it’s better to get a head start on it than be caught out of compliance and unaware.