Why in 2021 you should be making your website accessible
An astonishing 98% of websites fail to be fully compliant with the globally recognised web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG), we look at why now is the right time for your business to start taking it seriously. So what is it, why do it, and what are the costs?
What is Website Accessibility and WCAG 2.1?
The ‘Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)’ are a set of internationally recognised guidelines that detail how a website should behave to make it accessible to people with disabilities. You can read more about the guidelines by visiting the w3.org website; but in summary your site should be available to all users, including those with disabilities such as vision or motor impairment, epilepsy, or ADHD.
Why should my website be accessible?
There are two elements to the answer of this question:
The legal requirement. If you’re based in the United States (US) or European Union (EU), or even if you’re not but your website is targeting users in these regions, your website is legally required to be accessible. In the US, this requirement forms part of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), whilst more recently the EU has introduced The European Accessibility Act (EAA). In the United Kingdom (UK), public sector websites must comply with the standards set within WCAG 2.1 Level AA. Commercial & SME websites’ accessibility rules are covered by the Equality Act 2010 that states website owners must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to make their site accessible to people with disabilities. As yet there is no legal precedent as to what would qualify as ‘reasonable adjustments’ as it has not been tested in a court of law; we expect further guidance and changes to local law to follow in due course following the UK’s exit from the EU.
And frankly, it’s the right thing to do. Let’s face it, it’s 2021 and everyone should be included. By making your website accessible for all, you’re giving equal opportunity to access crucial information and online resources that significantly helps our everyday lives. 20% of the population live with some form of disability, and yet only 2% of the internet is accessible.
What are the benefits?
The end user. First of all there’s the obvious benefit to end users as website owners begin to make their sites accessible and disability friendly. With over 1.3 billion people across the globe living with a disability, there are many for whom the web is simply not available and we hope to see that change.
Protection from legal action. Website accessibility claims against businesses are on the rise and increasing year on year, both in the US and the EU. It should be noted that although we mentioned earlier on that there is no legal precedent as yet in the UK, that’s not because action hasn’t been brought, but rather that so far all claims have been settled before being heard in court.
Brand exposure & awareness. Possibly one of the most valuable benefits to UK organisations getting ahead of their competitors and making their website accessible early is the opportunity to reach 20% more of the population. This in turn leads to more people talking about your brand and your inclusive ethos.
Opportunity & increased revenue. With 20% of the population, or 1.3 billion people, living with a disability; they have an annual spending power of nearly £6 billion.
Why wasn’t my site built to be accessible?
Whilst at Akiko Design we take into account website accessibility during the design and development stage, for the majority of clients full compliance as part of the build process simply isn’t economically viable.
Cost and technical limitations. Fully compliant accessible websites from the off sounds like the ideal scenario, but in reality it’s often just not possible due to cost or technical restrictions (i.e. CMS frameworks, drag and drop builders, third party themes, plugins etc.). The cost of making a website fully compliant with WCAG 2.1 is usually more than the cost of building the site in the first place, sometimes by as much as 200%.
Ongoing compliance. Website accessibility is not a one-off piece of work, but more of an ongoing requirement. Websites are often dynamic in nature and part of an ever-changing environment, so what may be compliant today, might not be in a week’s time. New content, new functionality, design updates; they can all lead to a site failing an accessibility audit.
So what’s the solution?
Akiko Design are proud to have partnered with one of the world’s leading providers of web accessibility software. With more and more consumers turning to the web every day, this partnership offers the opportunity for our clients to have their website fully compliant in an affordable way.
How does it work?
The software utilises two applications that when used in conjunction achieves full WCAG 2.1 Level AA compliance. An accessibility interface covers 30% of the requirements, including UI and design-related adjustments such as font types, size, spacing, colour contrasts etc. The remaining 70% are the more complex requirements and this utilises AI-powered technology such as contextual understanding and image recognition to ensure your website works with screen readers and keyboard navigation.
After the initial setup the software will continue to monitor the site, performing a scan every 24 hours to look for content updates and adjustments, to ensure that your site remains compliant on an ongoing basis.
What’s the cost & timeline?
Akiko Design provide this solution on a software as a service (SSaS) fully managed basis; this includes the initial setup, configuration, installation and ongoing maintenance.
There are three tiers of pricing, based upon the number of unique pages your website has, and is per website / domain; but discounts are available for those needing to purchase multiple licences.
Can we see it in action?
Yes! You can see the solution in full operation by clicking the blue trigger in the bottom left hand corner of our site. If you would prefer to see it working on your own site, speak to us today about our free no obligation 7 day trial.
To sum up…
Website accessibility not only protects businesses legally, it enhances their reputation and offers an opportunity for increased sales. Now is the time to get ahead of competitors and support the disabled community, with what was once an extremely expensive investment, now an affordable opportunity.BOOK A FREE ONLINE CONSULTATION