Why is Accessibility Important for a Website?

Accessibility is a hot topic nowadays. Why is accessibility important for a website?

Perhaps you have some favorite recipes that everyone loves. You’ve decided to start a foodie blog. You’ve never met anyone who is blind. Perhaps you don’t even think you know someone with any type of disability. I’ve phrased it that way as more people than you realize have disabilities but some (hearing, intellectual, other) are invisible. So why does your website have to be accessible?

What is Website Accessibility?

Usability.gov has a very nice resource explaining the basics of accessibility . Accessibility gives everyone the same opportunity to enjoy something. This Digital Equality – is it Enough? post explains true digital equity.

I am especially drawn to the 3-picture series of three boys watching a baseball game. Initially they are standing behind what appears to be a wooden fence. Each boy is standing on a box of similar size. One can see the baseball game easily, another can just barely see, and the third can’t see at all. In the 2 nd frame, different box combinations have all of the boys’ heads at the same height. That’s better but the shortest boy is standing on two boxes. Did someone have to lift him up? Is it safe? The original fence has been replaced by fencing they can all see through in the 3rd frame. Everyone can see and there are no accommodations. That’s ideal!

So let’s get back to website accessibility. Maybe you are a foodie. How would you feel if many foodie blogs were inaccessible to you, just because you were blind? Today’s technology makes it fairly easy to adapt websites for people with disabilities. Much like the boys watching the baseball game, accessible websites create a level playing field.

Why is Accessibility Important for a Website? It’s a carrot or stick question – authentically engage the 20% of the population with disabilities or hope you’re not penalized. Don’t you want everyone to be able to see your wonderful content? That’s nice but I don’t have the time or money. I just want to blog about food.

Altrusim aside, making your website accessible might increase your audience. This argument is similar to one I’ve previously made about the business value of hiring people who are blind. The numbers in this post are a little dated but should also be compelling,

I hate to mention the second reason, which is the “stick” portion of the “carrot and stick”. There can be significant penalties if your website is inaccessible. Perhaps that doesn’t seem fair but the person who is blind may feel it’s not fair they can’t read your blog. Regardless of your feelings, the potential penalty is real.

Tell me more about these penalties?

Over 2,250 web accessibility lawsuits were filed in 2018 alone. The number of web accessibility lawsuits jumped 177% from 2017 to 2018. Once 2019’s lawsuits are tallied, this number...