The reasons for this are plentiful but can be simplified into three key areas.
You Will Lose Potential Customers
Numbers don’t lie, and those associated with disability are quite striking.
- Over a billion people are estimated to live with some form of disability, which can include blindness, deafness, and a variety of others. This corresponds to about 15 percent of the world's population.
- One in four U.S. adults—over 61 million Americans—have a disability that impacts major life activities.
- About 217 million people worldwide have moderate to severe vision impairment, which is expected to triple from 36 million to 115 million by 2050. In addition, 826 million people live with a near-vision impairment.
- The average person with a disability can expect to spend eight years, or 11.5 percent of their life, actively managing their disability.
- Approximately 40 percent of adults age 65 and up have one or more disabilities. By 2035, there will be 78 million adults in this age range, or approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population.
You Will Lose Money
People with disabilities spend a colossal half-trillion dollars annually, a number that should bring every business to sharp attention. The population of the United Kingdom that identifies as living with disability spends over $120 billion annually.
Despite these compelling figures, 73 percent of the people in the U.K. spending these incredible amounts of money are unable to complete basic transactions on more than a quarter of the websites they visit, according to a 2016 survey.
- Seventy-one percent leave the site (and revenue on the table).
- Eighty-six percent encounter difficulty even when they use assistive software.
- Perhaps most important, 82 percent say they would return often and spend more with a company that provides an accessible online experience.
You Might End Up in Court
When websites aren’t compliant with ADA standards, customers notice and brands pay the price, legally and financially. If, after reading the statistics above, you still have reservations, consider the following:
- In the first six months of 2018, 1,053 web accessibility lawsuits were filed in federal court, compared to 814 in all of 2017, which represents a 23 percent increase from the previous year. In light of this upward trend and with the Ninth Court’s January ruling on Robles v, Dominos these number of cases in federal s are only projected to rise in 2019 and the coming years.
- These suits are expensive and cost companies between $15,000 and $100,000, which does not begin to include internal costs to actually fix the problem
- In addition to Robles v. Dominos, recent notable cases include:
- Andrews v. Blick Art Materials. Blick settled with plaintiff Victor Andrews, who is blind, for an undisclosed amount which included a long-term commitment that Blick would take steps to make its website accessible. Remarkably, the court then held a combined fairness hearing and “science day,” where the plaintiff’s attorneys demonstrated the difficulties in accessing Blick’s site and explained the technology needed to fix it.
- Bishop v. Amazon.com. Cedric Bishop, who is visually impaired and legally blind, filed a class-action suit against Amazon.com that claims the e-commerce giant’s site is in violation of the ADA. Bishop uses a screen reader to access the internet and asserts that Amazon—and, by extension, its recent acquisition, Whole Foods—is not accessible to blind and visually impaired users. He seeks a permanent injunction against the site until it incorporates accessibility into its corporate practices.
- Maria Mendizabal v. Nike. Mendizabal is legally blind and filed a similar action against apparel titan Nike. She claims the company’s websites fail to accommodate screen readers due to a lack of alt-text to translate visual elements, and redundant and empty links. Mendizabal has asked for an injunction until the company updates its sites in compliance with existing law.
Fix the Problem, Grow Your Business
While there are surely no good reasons to ignore your site’s potential accessibility issues, there are many great ones to take immediate action. These include:
- Brand Integrity. People share experiences—good and bad—with their social circle and the larger world. Take a proactive stance on web accessibility and increase the chances that your site visitors will speak well of you and become your brand ambassadors in the process.
- Optimized SEO. You can look forward to more conversions, a lower bounce rate, and fewer complaints with a fully accessible website. These stats are key when Google and other search engines rank your site.
- Financial Rewards. Spend money now on accessibility, save money later in costly legal expenses and emergency design upgrades. Also, reap the rewards of dedicated business from customers whose brand loyalty to you is now impenetrable because of your dedication to their community.
- Enhanced Innovation. Bring your accessibility up to a new level and you may just find solutions to longstanding issues.
UsableNet Can Help
Not sure where to start? There’s a free and painless way to assess your website’s accessibility. Try our Accessibility Checker for nine easy check areas compiled by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).