Table of Contents
Today, we’d like to answer a question that comes up a lot, “Why should I pursue web accessibility?” That might sound disheartening because it should be clear why inclusion matters. Everyone deserves equal access regardless of the accommodations they might need. But many businesses (and sometimes individuals) ask for more concrete reasons beyond, “It’s the right thing to do.”
Whether you’re trying to convince your leadership that accessibility needs to be a priority, or you’re trying to justify the expense to yourself, we’ve outlined some of the bonus benefits of making your site accessible below.
SEO and accessibility overlap
You might be surprised to learn that search engine optimization (SEO) and web accessibility overlap quite a bit. Some estimate that there is a 75% or more overlap between the two. Basically, that means if you hired an SEO guru, nearly three-quarters of the advice they gave you would overlap with enhancing your site’s web accessibility as well.
Why’s that? Because Google, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, and many other search engines use automated programs called “spiders” to examine websites — including yours. The spiders report back about that site’s structure and content. In fact, they operate very much like the screen readers many blind users employ.
By optimizing your website’s structure and content to make it more accessible for anyone using a screen reader, you’ll also be making it friendlier for search engines. Bonus!
That’s not all; there are many other accessibility enhancements that improve your site’s SEO. For example, if your site has a quality responsive design that scales well to different screen sizes without breaking its layout, search engines will view the site more favorably. Along the same lines, a responsive design will help users who have low vision and rely on zooming in on a site’s content to read.
We can’t list all of the enhancements here because it’d take too long. Safe to say, there are many ways in which your accessibility efforts will also improve your site’s SEO.
Did you know you can get tax benefits?
Small businesses that invest time and money to make their website more accessible can now claim the Disabled Access Tax Credit to recoup some of those costs. If a business meets the eligibility requirements, they can reclaim 50% of their expenditures for web accessibility per year up to $5,000. We explain the tax benefit in the UserWay Accessibility Tax Credit article in more depth.
It shows that you care
Being dedicated to inclusivity makes a difference, and that will often increase your audiences’ loyalty to your brand. How would your site visitors, customers, or collaborators feel if they thought you didn’t value them? Well, they’d probably go to a competitor or voice their concerns in the form of a lawsuit or complaint.
By committing to enhancing your website’s accessibility and making resources available, you are showing that you value your audience. It’s okay to include your commitment to accessibility in marketing materials (in a tasteful way). But mostly, you should make sure the people who need accommodations know they are available and know how to use them. Please don’t make them search for what they need.
You should also create an accessibility statement to show your site visitors where you are in the process of making your site accessible. It’s a process with many steps, and an accessibility statement will let people know what efforts you are making and where you are on your accessibility journey. We’ve shared our free accessibility statement generator to help you get started.
Improve your user experience across the board
Often, people assume that making a site accessible means it has to lack something else like style, polish, or a certain wow factor. If you ask anyone who has made a serious effort to increase their site’s accessibility, they will agree with UserWay’s philosophy that improving the user experience for site visitors with disabilities will invariably enhance the experience of the general audience as well.
For example, if your site uses a sans-serif font and left-aligned text, it makes your content more readable for users with dyslexia. It also makes your content more readable for everyone else. So it’s an automatic win.
Similarly, if your site’s design incorporates a clean layout with a fair amount of white space, users with dyslexia or cognitive disabilities will have an easier time reading your content. Who else will enjoy the cleaner, roomier layout? That’d be nearly everyone.
Cleaning up link text to be more concise and more meaningful improves the user experience for blind users listening to your content through screen readers. It also makes the link and surrounding text more attractive and readable for everyone else. For example, consider the following two versions of a sentence:
- For more information, visit http://www.irs.gov.
- For more information, visit the IRS website.
The second version is far better for both blind and sighted users. Blind users don’t have to listen to the “http” and “www” clutter, and sighted users don’t have to read through it. It’s a win all around.
Adding quality alt text for images makes your site friendlier for blind users. It also can make you think more deeply about the graphics you select. When you need to think about alt text for an image, it makes you consider the image itself and how helpful or relevant it truly is.
Take steps that will benefit all of your visitors
It’s always important to consider digital accessibility when creating or updating your website. Alienating users and making your content inaccessible does not make sound business sense, can leave you open to lawsuits, and creates barriers for your audience. At its core, an inaccessible website isn’t useful to those with and without disabilities and could be improved in many ways. It’s time to start user testing, doing color contrast checks, and consider getting a site audit to ensure your website is fully accessible to everyone.