Why is accessibility important for individuals, business, and society?
Now we know what digital accessibility is, the principles of accessibility (POUR), and what can affect an individual’s access to the web, it’s necessary to know the importance of accessibility for individuals, business, and society.
Digital accessibility is crucial to create a fair and inclusive world, for everybody. With more than 14 million people living with disabilities in the UK (1.) it’s important that these individuals are enabled to have equal access to the digital world as everybody else. If we fail to do our own due diligence to remove access barriers, we effectively hamstring around a quarter of the adult population from doing things like accessing information online, accessing online education alternatives, spending money buying products from online marketplaces, or even joining the work force.
Digital accessibility, a business case
So, why should you as a business implement accessibility into your digital practices?
Beyond being compliant with legal requirements to meet set standards there are several compelling reasons a business should do all they can to accommodate the needs of this massive consumer base. With the estimated spending power of the UK’s 14 million disabled people being estimated around £275 billion a year it’s easy to see a monetary value in meeting their needs. According to the Click-Away Pound (2.) survey carried out in 2019, more than 4 million people abandoned a retail website because of barriers they came up against, that lost businesses around £17.1 billion in sales. Not only this but research from Nielsen (3.) found that people with disabilities are typically more brand loyal, shop more frequently, and spend more per order than the average customer.
When thinking in a more comprehensive manner there is in fact a long list of unexpected benefits that can justify the dedication of resources in efforts to support the business case of digital accessibility. Of course, there is no one size fits all, it’s important to highlight the most relevant accessibility benefits within your specific operational landscape. Government agencies are likely to be more compelled by legal and equity aspects of accessibility integration, while commercial businesses are likely to be persuaded by opportunities of innovation and market expansion. A study of Fortune 500 companies (4.) indicates that disability inclusion, as part of an overall diversity strategy, is common practice among high performing businesses, this is because, as mentioned before, businesses that integrate accessibility are more likely to be innovative, inclusive enterprises, that reach more people with a positive brand message.
Using the internet has become common practice in all corners of the world and with COVID pushing more and more businesses online a smart business must integrate accessible design into their development and procurement processes, in doing so you have a far greater chance of success as your business stands out from the less accessible competition, while enhancing your authentic and ethical reputation. There are more than 14 million disabled adults within the UK that are eager to engage as customers, clients, partners, and employees. By integrating a long-term commitment to accessibility, you allow your business to enhance your brand, increase market reach, minimise legal risks, and drive innovation.
Digital accessibility for society and individuals
As we’ve said before, as a society it’s important that we work together to ensure that all individuals have fair and equal access to the web, however, did you know that having access to information and communications technology, including the web, is defined as a basic human right in the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD (5.)).
By enabling the inclusion of individuals with disabilities to join the work force digitally or otherwise we can gain a significant boost to our national and global economy. Even with around 4.4 million disabled people in work in the UK, disabled people are almost twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people. Embracing disability inclusion as a country means we would gain access to a new talent pool of more than 10 million people, a rise of just 5% in disabled employment rates would lead to an increase of £23 billion to our GDP by 2030. (6.) Not only this but through accessibility advancements comes new work opportunities for everyone, just type into google “accessibility jobs” and see for yourself how many new and exciting roles have opened in the job market because of it.
By incorporating universal design, you improve the user experience for everybody, you advance technology as you come up with new and innovative ways to overcome obstacles, and push productivity and efficiency to new limits, while simultaneously tearing down accessibility barriers for those individuals that come up against them.
Beyond this there is the simple moral reasoning behind accessibility, you can be a good person by creating accessible designs to ensure that everyone has equal access. Good people do things for other people, that’s it, the end.