Websites have become a main outlet for distributing your message to the masses, so it is important to build them right. In a previous Marketing Minute™, AllOut Marketing discussed the importance of search engine optimized content in driving traffic to your website. If you’ve followed those recommendations, then you are well on your way to having successful results. However, what happens if traffic gets to your website, and they can’t read or navigate it? For the aging population and millions of people with physical conditions and low vision in the United States, this is an everyday reality and has sparked a strong industry and government movement toward website accessibility.
What is website accessibility?
According to the W3C Website Accessibility Initiative, considered the authority on the issue, “It is essential that the Web be accessible in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with disabilities. While accessibility focuses on people with disabilities, it also benefits older users, mobile phone users, and other individuals, as well as organizations. Older users with age-related accessibility needs are an increasingly important customer base for most organizations, as the percentage of older users is increasing significantly. Organizations with accessible websites benefit from search engine optimization (SEO), reduced legal risk, demonstration of corporate social responsibility (CSR), and increased customer loyalty.”
Why is it important?
When developing a company or product website, accessibility is often not considered a priority unless the target audience consists of blind or low vision users. However, if carried out properly, building an accessible website will ensure improved sustainability, functionality, and reliability.
Sustainability: Recognize the trends and build for the future.
- Baby-boomers are reaching their late 50s, with declining vision and hearing
- There are over 10 million people with visual disabilities in the United States
- The largest group of users with visual disabilities will be those with low vision
- The amended Rehabilitation Act, Section 508, requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities
- Activists are lobbying for equal access to information technology, especially concerning health care, pharmaceutical, and medical technology information
- Many states have already passed legislation requiring electronic and information technology accessibility
Functionality and Reliability: Design smart with all users in mind.
- Accessible content is more likely to be readable on PDAs, cell phones, etc., which improves the likelihood that someone will read it
- Busy backgrounds and fonts make it difficult for all users, not just those with disabilities, so keep it simple
- If you make a website that low vision users can easily read, then users with normal vision can read it too
- Descriptive text creates user interest and helps those who cannot see the images
- Websites that are accessible to low vision and blind users also tend to be very search engine-friendly with search engine optimization (SEO) benefits
Is your website accessible? Contact AllOut Marketing to tap into our wide range of expertise in web development, accessibility, medical device, and healthcare marketing.