Today, it is critical that you make your website content accessible. Web content accessibility is about making web content available and usable for all people. 

The global web standards authority World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) defines accessibility as follows: “Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them.” W3C states that accessibility take into account all type of disabilities that “affect access to the Web,” which include:

  • auditory
  • cognitive
  • neurological
  • physical
  • speech
  • visual

Importantly, web content accessibility improves the internet for everyone. Whether helping an aging population, improving the mobile experience, or making content accessible in areas of the world with limited internet, accessibility is about creating the best experience possible. And, in discussing minimum standards of content effectiveness, Content Science President Colleen Jones notes: “Ensure the content is usable and accessible in the right channels and touchpoints.”

Key Statistics and Trends

As the population ages and with more people than ever working and doing business remotely, ensuring your website is accessible is a must. 

One in four people in the U.S. have a disability. “About 26 percent of people in the U.S.—one in four people—have temporary or permanent disabilities. Up to 10 percent of them depend on the internet for work or other important tasks.” 5 Easy Tips for Creating Accessible Content From Intuit’s Senior Content Designer

One million homepages reveal lack of accessibility. According to an accessibility evaluation of the home pages for the top 1,000,000 web sites, “51,379,694 distinct accessibility errors were detected—an average of 51.4 errors per page.” WebAIM

Web accessibility lawsuits are increasing. “In 2020, web, app and video accessibility cases are up almost 25% year-on-year. December saw an almost 100% rise over January. Total digital accessibility lawsuits in 2020 exceeds 3,500. When you combine federal and state ADA lawsuits, the trend is moving upward.” UsableNet

Failing to address accessibility is costly. “The online spending power of people with access needs in the UK is now £24.8 billion.” And: “With the percentage of people with access needs who will click away from an inaccessible site remaining at almost 70%, the Click-Away Pound has risen to £17.1 billion.” Click-Away Pound 2019 Report

Food and Drink websites and Shopping sites are making some strides. “Home pages in the Food & Drink category were most improved since 2020 with errors reduced from 66.1 to 46.8 errors on average. This improvement may be at least partially attributed to the significant increase in litigation regarding web accessibility in this sector. Shopping sites, which were also highly subject to accessibility complaints and lawsuits, were greatly improved from 90.5 errors to 75.2 errors on average, yet this category remains among the least accessible.” WebAIM

Companies want better accessibility and more standardization in the future. “The top organizational goals for 2021 include improved usability for people with disabilities, standardizing the organization’s approach to accessibility, maturing an accessibility program,and achieving conformance.” 2021 State of Digital Accessibility, Level Access, G3ict, and IAAP

Benefits and Best Practices 

When you make your website accessible, you make it better for all customers. Keep track of best practices and the current legal requirements to create a mature accessibility program. 

An accessible site will win you more customers. The 2019 Click-Away Pound survey found that 83% of users who have access needs limit their shopping to sites they know are barrier free. Click-Away Pound 2019 Report

Accessibility is good for your site overall. “CNET saw a 30% increase in traffic from Google after they started providing transcripts.” 

Consider accessibility from the start. “The longer an organization waits to incorporate accessibility, the greater the chance that the product will be inaccessible (and more expensive and time-consuming to retrofit). When a product team considers accessibility from the start, they can iterate, test, learn, and end up with a stronger product.” And, “85.9% of development teams think about accessibility before building begins.” 2021 State of Digital Accessibility, Level Access, G3ict, and IAAP

Follow the law. “The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect in 2020, with regulations clarifying that businesses have to make privacy and opt-out information accessible.”  The Bureau of Internet Accessibility (BoIA)

As a baseline, use plain language. “Plain language solves a lot of accessibility problems for people with cognitive issues like short-term memory or learning disabilities such as dyslexia. Aim for an eighth-grade audience or lower in your writing. Tools such as Readable and the spelling and grammar check tool in Word can help you find the right balance.” 5 Easy Tips for Creating Accessible Content From Intuit’s Senior Content Designer

It may benefit you to have accessibility-certified help. “While 57.8% of organizations reported completing an accessibility audit in the last 6 months, the number rose to 67.7% for organizations with IAAP-certified personnel.” 2021 State of Digital Accessibility, Level Access, G3ict, and IAAP

Bottom Line

Accessibility is already front and center for many corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies. “Accessibility is a big deal. We want to make sure all of our web properties are accessible,” says Georgia’s Chief Digital Officer Nikhil Deshpande. If your company isn’t currently thinking about and planning its web content around meeting accessibility standards, now is the time to start doing so.  

The Author

Content Science partners with the world’s leading organizations to close the content gap in digital business. We bring together the complete capabilities you need to transform or scale your content approach. Through proprietary data, smart strategy, expert consulting, creative production, and one-of-a-kind products like ContentWRX and Content Science Academy, we turn insight into impact. Don’t simply compete on content. Win.

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