Building a Business Culture of Digital Accessibility
In this post, we discuss the importance of digital accessibility and share three ways you can help build a culture of digital accessibility in your organization.
In our daily lives, signs of physical accessibility are all around us — from wheelchair ramps and handicapped parking spaces to Braille on signs.
But what about the digital world, where we spend so much of our time? Is it readily apparent if a website is accessible for people with disabilities.
For most people, the answer is no. Digital accessibility isn’t always top of mind, and that lack of awareness and knowledge can have a dampening effect on accessibility initiatives. After all, it’s hard to fix what you don’t know is broken.
Here are the facts, presented as simply as possible.
Every organization should be investing in digital accessibility, whether it’s to improve user experiences, protect against digital accessibility lawsuits, or create an inclusive work environment for all employees.
In this post, we discuss the importance of building a culture of digital accessibility — and share tips for getting buy-in across your organization.
The Importance of Digital Accessibility
Before we get started, it’s worth taking a moment to clarify what digital accessibility is — and the impact it can have on user experiences.
Digital accessibility refers to the design and development of digital products — like websites, apps, and documents — in a way that people with disabilities can use them. This includes people with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive impairments.
In practical terms, designing for accessibility means:
- Providing alternative text for images, so that people who use screen readers can understand the content of the image.
- Adding captions and audio descriptions to videos, that people with visual or hearing impairments can fully engage with the content.
- Using proper heading ranks, so that people can easily navigate and understand a page.
- Providing keyboard navigation, so that people who cannot use a mouse can still access the content
- Using high contrast colors, so that people with visual impairments can read the text.
Giving users the ability to change the font size or line spacing on a page, so that people with visual impairments and certain learning disabilities can adjust the text to their needs.
- Using clear and simple language, so that people with cognitive or learning disabilities can understand the content.
What Are the Roadblocks to Driving Change?
Despite the clear benefits of digital accessibility, some organizations find it hard to implement change. Some common roadblocks include:
- Lack of awareness: Many organizations do not understand the importance of digital accessibility — or the impact it can have on their business. Without a shared understanding of the problem, it can be hard to build support for change.
- Concerns about time and cost: Two of the biggest misconceptions about digital accessibility — how much it costs and whether it requires rebuilding websites from the ground up — can sometimes stop accessibility initiatives before they get started.
- Resistance to change: Change can be difficult for many organizations, and some people may be resistant to the idea of making changes — internal or external.
- Lack of expertise: Implementing digital accessibility can require specialized knowledge, and many organizations may not have the expertise in-house to make the necessary changes.
Three Ways To Help Build a Culture of Digital Accessibility
There are always going to be hurdles to implementing any sort of organizational change. However, here are three ways you can make a stronger argument for the importance of digital accessibility:
- Demonstrate the ROI of accessibility: There are plenty of reasons to invest in digital accessibility, starting with the simple fact that it’s the right thing to do. However, there are also demonstrable business benefits to accessibility. Consider this: In the United States, one in four adults lives with some type of disability. For your own business, what would it look like if 25% more customers were able to fill out a contact form, complete a purchase, or find the information they needed?
As an added bonus, there’s also a clear link between the best practices of SEO and accessible design. By structuring your page to work with screen readers and other assistive technologies, you can also make it easier for search engines to crawl your website — and as a result, appear higher in search results.
- Make inclusivity part of your internal culture: At AudioEye, we often talk about the importance of prioritizing accessibility for your customers and your own teams. Organizations should make a concerted effort to train employees on the importance of digital accessibility through workshops and practical guidance. For example, what should an employee do if a customer raises an accessibility issue?
Additionally, you should audit your own onboarding processes and materials to make sure that every team member has equal access to the information they need to succeed.
- Work with external experts: Not every organization has an in-house team of accessibility specialists, but every organization can benefit from their expertise. At AudioEye, we believe that the best version of digital accessibility is one that combines the speed of automation with human experts, whether it’s coding custom fixes or having screen reader users test websites and inform product roadmap.
To that end, our team of CPACC-certified experts work closely with members of the disability community to help ensure that the end user perspective is always reflected in our product and service offerings.
Take the First Step Toward a More Accessible Website
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