Debunking Common Myths About Digital Accessibility
We polled more than 500 business leaders, web designers, and developers to learn what they thought about digital accessibility. Here’s what we discovered.
“It’s too expensive.”
“I’d have to rebuild my website from scratch.”
“There’s no real business value to making my website accessible.”
When we talk to people about digital accessibility, it’s not uncommon to hear these concerns. And while it’s easy enough to poke holes in each one, they’re also one of the reasons digital accessibility is lagging so far behind.
In a world where 1.3 billion people live with a disability, 97% of the internet is inaccessible to people with disabilities. That’s a huge gap. But it’s also a big opportunity for businesses that prioritize inclusive digital experiences.
To better understand why some organizations have been slow to invest in digital accessibility, we asked more than 500 business leaders, web designers, and developers about digital accessibility.
Here’s what we learned.
Business Leaders Are Most Confident About Their Level of Knowledge
Although a majority of respondents described themselves as being fairly to very familiar with digital accessibility, more than half of the designers and developers we surveyed lacked confidence in their understanding of digital accessibility, compared to their manager or leader.
Unfortunately, this confidence is helping mask some common misconceptions that impact how some organizations approach digital accessibility — especially when it comes to time, cost, and compliance with legal standards.
Myth: Using Automated Tools Is All I Need To Make It Accessible
More than 65% of the people we asked believe that simply adding a toolbar to a website makes it accessible, while more than half said that automation alone can deliver a site that is fully functional for all users.
Here’s the truth: Automation is a powerful tool that is getting better all the time. But automation alone cannot identify and fix every accessibility issue. Take image alternative text, for example. Automated tools are able to detect whether or not an image has alt text, but they can’t tell if the description is accurate or detailed enough.
The same can be said for toolbars. While they enable users to personalize their experience by changing visual attributes like color contrast, text spacing, and visual focus, they don’t offer much support for people trying to navigate your website using a screen reader.
That’s not to say automation and toolbars aren’t valuable. However, it’s important to think of them as tools in a larger toolkit, one that should also include regular monitoring, manual testing, and reporting.
At AudioEye, we believe a hybrid approach that combines the speed and scalability of automation with the precision and expertise of people is critical to achieving and maintaining an accessible website.
Myth: There Are No Other Benefits to an Accessible Website
Why is digital accessibility so important? We can probably all agree that delivering an equal browsing experience to everyone who visits your site is the right thing to do, but there are other benefits to consider, like better brand sentiment among a group that controls trillions in disposable income and improved search engine optimization (SEO).
Many principles of “good” SEO also overlap with the best practices of accessible design. Companies spend tens of billions of dollars every year to improve their searchability. If a search engine like Google is “confident” in both the content and user experience of a website, the site is more likely to rank higher when Google presents its results for a search query.
Then there’s the usability factor. The better the experience and functionality for your end user, the more likely they are to stay on your website.
Myth: Accessibility Means Redesigning My Entire Site
More than half of our respondents believe that providing an accessible online experience means starting from scratch — redesigning and redeveloping the entire site.
That invariably sounds both time-consuming and expensive.
While we agree that it’s ideal to design an accessible site from the first line of code, it’s simply not feasible for the millions of sites already in existence.
AudioEye’s automated technology can detect up to 70% of common accessibility issues — and automatically fix about two-thirds of them.
And for issues like color contrast, our visual toolkit is instrumental. If your brand colors don’t meet the minimum contrast ratio, a user can adjust that contrast using our toolbar. You don’t need to change your brand or your design — win, win.
Myth: Digital Accessibility Is Only Needed for Those Who Are Blind or Who Have Low Vision
Based on our survey, 63% of respondents believe that visual impairments are the most prominent disability impacted by an inaccessible website.
In reality, mobility problems and cognitive issues impact a higher percentage of the population than visual impairments.
That means digital accessibility is essential for people who are not able to move their limbs and require assistive technology, as well as people who have dyslexia and need the option to change fonts or line spacing.
Or consider someone who has epilepsy and needs to be able to disable animations or risk triggering a seizure. If there’s no option to turn off animations, they’re likely to bounce off your site and not return.
Bottom line: An accessible digital experience benefits users of all abilities. And design doesn’t have to suffer in the process.
Myth: Web Accessibility Requirements Can Be Ignored Because Litigation Is Frivolous and Invalid
Shockingly, our survey revealed that about one quarter of leaders believe accessibility lawsuits have no merit. Tell that to Domino’s, whose suit made its way to the Supreme Court.
(Spoiler alert: Domino’s fought accessibility, and the high court refused its petition. Another win in the pro-accessibility column.)
But huge name brands aren’t the only ones. Thousands of small and mid-size businesses are also facing, or have faced, legal action. If you think your business is small enough to fly under the radar and avoid getting sued, you’re wrong. Many mom-and-pop restaurants and small stores have recently fought, and lost, website accessibility lawsuits.
Fact: Web Accessibility Is Smart Business
If you’ve fallen victim to believing some of these common myths and misconceptions, the data speaks for itself: You’re not alone. But you can take action.
AudioEye has made it easier to achieve website accessibility compliance without breaking your budget, taking all of your time, or completely redesigning your website. Our hybrid approach to digital accessibility combines the best of automation with an expert touch.
Our solution is always on, so as you change your content, we monitor it for new issues. And our team of certified accessibility experts can help you through every step of your journey toward digital accessibility — even if you’re facing legal action.
Want to see where your website stands today? Get a free scan of any URL to uncover accessibility barriers on your site.
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