Talking about accessibility and inclusive design often stir up thoughts of increased development time and higher costs. But the reality is often the opposite and we want to show you why. Making your websites available to everyone is a change of perspective more than anything else and from a financial point of view, can actually increase your turnover.
There are many great reasons why accessibility and inclusive design should already be part of your company ethos.
There’s the legal obligation; The Equality Act 2010 which protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society, meaning you are responsible for making sure that your website is accessible to people with disabilities. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has already initiated legal action against two high profile brands on behalf of two of its members. Both cases were settled out of court and concluded with confidentiality clauses.
There’s the moral and social responsibility; Because it’s the right thing to do. And it will improve your brand’s perception and reputation.
But today, we are going to focus on the often neglected third reason; The financial reason to invest in an accessible and inclusive website.
Because the reality is that right now, you and your competitors are ignoring a large demographic. And make no mistake, these are very real people, with very real money that you are ignoring.
Despite all these great reasons, a study showed that four in five tested websites failed to meet the bare minimum for accessibility.
You, and your competitors, are ignoring tens of thousands of pounds in potential turnover. Every year.
Tesco; A case study
Tesco is one of the UK’s largest grocery retailers. They also supply a range of non-grocery consumer products, covering home and lifestyle, entertainment and insurance.
Tesco’s shopping experience wasn’t available to everyone. They realised the importance of giving their customers an accessible and inclusive website. They sought to change this.
Some of the key changes they made were to remove unnecessary images and clearly describe all the link texts.
Their changes made significant improvements for people with various disabilities. But Tesco got a wider audience as many sighted people also found their accessible site easier to use.
Not only do we get the satisfaction of doing the right thing, but it’s a great market opportunity in its own right.
– John Browett, Tesco Chief Executive
Thanks to these changes Tesco.com became the first site to recieve the RNIB’s ‘See it Right Accessible Web Site Award’, an award given to people who make their sites accessible to everyone without compromising on an entertaining design. The award also show that a site has been audited by RNIB’s in-house usability specialists.
And their £35,000 investment into accessibility increased their revenue by £13 million.
Accessibility means access. It refers to the ability for everyone, regardless of disability or special needs, to access, use and benefit from everything within their environment. It is the “degree to which a product, device, service, or environment is available to as many people as possible.”
One in seven people in the world have some form of disability. That’s one billion people.
One in five people in the UK have some form of sensory disability. That’s over 12 million people.
Without accessible websites over 12 million people in the UK can’t do their shopping, find information or get the news. And whilst you might be able to simply walk to the shop, this isn’t possible for everyone. Some people depend on the internet
Understanding inclusive design
Inclusive design (sometimes called Universal design) is about creating buildings, products and environments that are inherently accessible to everyone whether they’re older people or people with and without disabilities.
Because at the end of the day, accessibility and inclusive design isn’t about people with disabilities or meeting criteria on a list, it’s simply about people. People like me and you.
Half of all the people in the UK are 40 years or over. That’s over 31 million people.
People who don’t have a disability, they’re simply an aging but fast-growing demographic.
As you age, your eyes’ ability to focus degrades; a condition called presbyopia. You begin to struggle to focus and read small prints, and reading copy with poor contrast becomes difficult.
Designing for people
If adding an accessibility checklist just before your website goes live is your approach, you’ve already failed to be both accessible and inclusive. The execution of a truly accessible website always follows the intention to do so.
It’s also impossible for an automated tool to be 100% certain that your website meets any of the 61 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Success Criteria. In fact, some of WCAG’s Success Criteria can’t be reliably tested via automated means at all. Anyone who claims they can use automated tools to test and correct all accessibility problems are either misinformed or being deliberately deceitful.
People need to be at the forefront of your project. They are your customers after all. By putting people into the planning stage of your project you make sure your website becomes available to as many people as possible.
Because people of all ages, ethnicities and abilities benefit from inclusive design.
Four in five tested websites failed to make their content available to half of the population in the UK. You are failing to make your content available to half of the population in the UK.
Getting to work
If you are an average Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), ignoring inclusive design is costing you and your business tens of thousands of pounds in lost turnover. Every year.
By making accessible and inclusive design as a first-class passenger and setting it as a project goal, you can make sure to deliver a truly inclusive website.
It’s time to get to work and make your website available for everyone.