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What is Website Accessibility, and Why Is It So Important? Entrepreneur MBA Podcast 4.28

On today’s podcast, Amber Hinds from Equalize Digital, Inc. and Stephen Halasnik from Financing Solutions painstakingly discuss the meaning of website accessibility and why it is so crucial to businesses. Having an accessible website that supports digital equity is essential to the growth and development of every business. Besides its legal significance, experience has shown that disabled Americans constitute a sizable part of the market. In 2019, disabled Americans spent more than $200 billion online in discretionary spending. In other words, no matter the type of business you do, your company is likely to engage with customers of all disabilities, and it’s proper you factor in their needs while designing your website.

Website Accessibility for businesses 

For business owners, having a platform that maximizes their business presence to the target audience is extremely important to its growth and scalability. When access to the internet was minimal, businesses relied on various traditional means, including print, broadcast, direct mail, phone, and outdoor advertising like billboards to reach out to their prospects and customers alike. But today, innovative technologies have made it possible for companies to rethink their advertising methods in the way they market their products and build their brands. The use of optimized websites that are highly accessible to all and sundry has allowed businesses to develop and project their brands to every person including the disabled. Business website

Any business that aspires to achieve tremendous growth today must strive to enhance its website accessibility. Website accessibility, in its foundational definition, basically means the practice of doing certain things on the website while writing the code or embedding content to ensure that people with disabilities or users can access the technology easily. For instance, adding software like blind people screen readers helps the visually impaired read out everything on the website. Or by putting technology in place, such as a video that transcribes a podcast for the deaf people so that they can engage with the content as well. In addition, it means having a different set of functionalities that allow access for everyone regardless of where they are.

Why business owners should optimize their websites accessibilities

There are numerous reasons business owners should make their website accessible to all. First and foremost, the American Disability Act(ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in everyday activities, including buying items at the store, going to movies, and so forth. In other words, businesses of all sizes are required to modify their policies and practices that discriminate against people with disabilities by complying with accessible design standards when constructing or altering facilities. And by removing barriers in existing facilities where readily achievable; and providing auxiliary aids and services when needed to ensure effective communication with people who have hearing, vision, or speech impairments. Therefore, all businesses must comply with accessible design standards when constructing or altering facilities.

Companies with highly optimized websites tend to broaden their customers base in no small measure by ensuring that they have a wide area of coverage, especially as it concerns brand building. After all, research shows that one in 4 US adults, a whopping 61 million Americans, have a disability that impacts major life activities. That’s to say, disabled people make up a sizable chunk of the US population, and any business that tends to ignore their needs will be losing out a significant number of its target audience. Increasing your website reach to get everyone in your audience means that you should put in place the requisite infrastructure that enables disabled people to purchase your product or submit an inquiry form for your service or products seamlessly.

What will make a good website accessible?

Business owners may face many risks ranging from a hefty lawsuit, that they could still end up paying thousands of dollars, to running the risk of losing customers for not making their websites accessible to those that are disabled or for failing to create accessible websites for some users. Hence, it becomes imperative for businesses to be wary of factors that enhance the website’s accessibility. 

That said, every user should be able to access all the information on your website, including images, text videos, and audio. In other words, you should have on your website’s software or plugins that facilitate ease of accessibility. 

Final thought

Making your websites accessible does not require many technicalities but demands attention to detail. For example, the accessibility of a website can be optimized by adding alternative text to images, using headings in the right order (H1, H2, H3, and so on), which is also essential for SEO practices and allows people who are disabled to understand the format of the content. However, certain areas might require the technical expertise of a developer. Still, there are some tools out there that can help you navigate that effectively.

About our guest

Amber Hinds is the CEO of Equalize Digital, Inc., a Certified B Corp specializing in WordPress accessibility, maker of the Accessibility Checker plugin, and lead organizer of the WordPress Accessibility Meetup and WP Accessibility Day conference. Since 2010, she has led teams building websites and web applications for nonprofits, K-12 and higher education institutions, government agencies, and businesses of all sizes. Through her work at Equalize Digital, Amber is striving to create a world where all people have equal access to information and tools on the internet, regardless of ability.

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