The World Health Organization revealed about 15% of the global population is struggling with a form of disability. We know that most of this population relies on the web to undertake daily tasks and access resources and information. Sadly, these groups of people encounter barriers online, making them unable to enjoy equal opportunities. It is no wonder the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) come into play to ensure websites factor in all users, including persons with disabilities. With digital accessibility being a key business strategy, granting such people access will boost your brand.
Ensuring your website is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, is not just a legal requirement, but a reflection of your brand’s commitment to inclusivity. Looking at companies like EXPRE can help, they specialise in Web Accessibility and have great understanding of WCAG and a track record of successful accessibility audits and implementations. Having a consultant at hand will help navigating the complexities of digital accessibility and ease the process of making your site universally accessible.
Here’s how web accessibility affects your brand’s reputation.
Importance of online presence in shaping brand reputation
Whether small or big, your business needs an online presence in this modern era to trade through. Having an online presence will make your brand discoverable on Google. Usually, customers search for a product on Google, and if they do not find it, they settle on a rival. Therefore, consider regular postings on social media to improve your Google ranking and shape your brand reputation.
Being present online will also make your business appear trustworthy and authentic, as most customers will trust a company with obvious channels to contact them. Online presence also enables you to showcase your products and services in a way that matches your brand. You will have control over your branding and can adjust it to match the changes, seasons, and upgrades.
You can easily track and monitor your brand reputation with Repsense tool.
Understanding website accessibility
Web content is accessible if all visitors, regardless of their developmental, physical disabilities or impairments, can access the information presented. Here’s what you need to understand about website accessibility.
Definition of website accessibility
Website accessibility is the practice of designing your website to be usable by all visitors. The principle entails adherence to design principles that ensure users with cognitive, auditory, neurological, physical, visual, and speech disabilities have similar experiences as those who do not.
Common accessibility barriers faced by individuals with disabilities
Common accessibility barriers prevent people with disabilities from fully accessing and using websites. These barriers include the following:
- Technical, design, and content problems affect the understanding of users with cognitive disabilities.
- The lack of proper text alternatives for images, videos, and other non-text content prevents hearing and visually-impaired users from accessing content.
- Inaccessible menus and forms prevent many disabled users from accessing subpages and completing forms.
- Poor color contrast confuses visually impaired users.
- Complex web page layouts confuse users with learning and cognitive disabilities.
Overview of accessibility guidelines and standards
Website accessibility is mandatory according to the ADA, and non-compliant organizations will pay penalties. A common starting point is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which comprises making content accessible to people with disabilities. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) manages WCAG, which requires accessible websites to meet the following key principles:
- Perceivable: allowing all users access to presented information through captions and text alternatives
- Operable: allowing all users easy navigation and operation of interfaces through added keyboard functionality and the ease of reading and finding content.
- Understandable user interface operation: including readable texts and the ability to note and correct mistakes.
- Robust content: compatible with future tools.
The impact of website accessibility on brand reputation
A brand that embraces website accessibility will boost its reputation as people living with disabilities pay attention to how they approach accessibility. Without accommodations, a brand is signing up for a negative opinion. These negative opinions can be a nightmare for a business, so a business should commit to website accessibility as part of its overall corporate social responsibility (CSR). Also, as a business ensures website compliance as part of its legal obligation, failure to comply may damage a brand reputation by exposing the business to PR issues necessitating a website rebuilding.
Implementing website accessibility
Implementing website accessibility for your business will make perfect business sense as you can build a positive brand image across a wider market segment. While you may assume adherence to the standards and guidelines around website accessibility, discovering how well your website or mobile app ensures access to everyone, including those with disabilities, is important. You can do so through accessibility audits prioritizing manual testing, enabling your website to comply better with EQA 2010. Through a website accessibility audit, you will identify the accessibility barriers and get recommendations for each defect.
After the audit, complete the recommended repairs and invest in web accessibility training for continued compliance. Having an accessibility statement on your website is also crucial. This statement should include details about parts not meeting the standards and why. The accessibility statement should also give instructions to users on how to access alternatives to inaccessible content and how they can reach out to report accessibility barriers.
The bottom line
Website accessibility has benefits, including strengthening your brand reputation, bettering user experience, and reducing legal risks. Given that people with disabilities form a significant part of the consumer base, implementing the changes will make your website more accessible and inhance your brand among a population that is oftentimes ignored. Besides the financial implications, website accessibility is also the right thing to do as it makes life less difficult.