Think about all the ways you currently use the Internet. It’s likely your number one source of information for news, sports, community information, research and social interaction. That’s why it is so important that the Internet is accessible to everyone. Everyone deserves the ability to tap into the web.
While the majority of websites currently do not meet acceptable web accessibility standards, some major sites have made it a priority. Google and Facebook both took the lead. Google’s developer tools inspect accessibility for web pages and Facebook encourages the use of closed captioning.
Consider Your User Populations
So why should we be concerned about web design accessibility? You may be saying to yourself, my organization is not tech savvy like Google or Facebook and my audience is much smaller. Maybe it’s true that your organization is not as tech-focused as Google or Facebook, or your audience is significantly smaller. Perhaps you don’t think your current/potential consumers are living with disabilities. Regardless, companies can be sued for discrimination if their sites are not easily accessible. And, beyond the concern of a potential lawsuit, ensuring accessibility is simply the right thing to do.
Consider the Data on Disabled Individuals
The United Nations reports there are approximately 1 billion people living with disabilities in the world today (56.7 million in the United States alone). That is a significant part of the global and national population, who cannot and should not be ignored. That is also a high number of potential customers that you could be missing out on with an inaccessible website.
According to The UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development 2018, people with disabilities remain at a clear disadvantage. Unfortunately, in many societies, people with disabilities are often disconnected and face discrimination.
Another demographic that will continue to need accessibility support is the aging population. The UN reports there are about 962 million people aged 60 or over, which equates to about 13 percent of the world. This group expected to grow by 3 percent each year and by 2050 is projected to reach 2.1 billion people. As this population ages, they too will need additional accommodations in order to use the Internet.
Create a Better Internet for All People
Beyond the fact that any web design accessibility standards you add to your website will improve your Search Engine Optimization, making you more visible to all users, providing an accessible website is the best way to do business with people with disabilities. When done right, accessible websites are preferred for people who cannot read printed material, who cannot physically visit a store and people who may have difficulty hearing.
When you look at the number of people who need – or will soon need – better accessibility on the Internet, it becomes clear that designing your website to be accessible is a priority. The sooner you start improving your existing website or developing a website that is usable for all, the better.