Since startups are new to the industry and have limited resources they barely know anything about ADA compliance, which increases their risk of getting slapped with ADA lawsuits.
ADA lawsuits allege people with disabilities could not access all the functionalities of a website with assistive technologies. It’s worth noting that ADA lawsuits have tripled in 2018 when compared with lawsuits in 2017.
The most notorious web accessibility lawsuit case is the recent Domino’s case, where a blind plaintiff sued the pizza company for not optimising their website to screen readers, and won.
However, while huge brands such as Domino’s are being sued, startups must not make the mistake of assuming they’re too small to be in the crosshairs. Small businesses including startups can easily get that nasty demand letter delivered to their mailbox if they’re not careful.
Hence, it is necessary for startups to understand the importance of web accessibility and the impact it can have on their business, especially small businesses.
Understanding web accessibility and its importance
Web accessibility refers to designing the website in a way that can be accessed by everyone including the ones who only use keyboard or assistive screen readers to navigate through the web pages. Now, let’s have a look at the reasons as to why web accessibility is essential.
1. Web accessibility increases your customer base
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 61 million adults in the U.S alone live with some kind of disability. Another report from the World Bank suggests that there are around 1 billion disabled people in the world.
Therefore, as a startup, there’s a high chance that a lot of your potential customers are among the disabled and you wouldn’t want to lose even a fraction of them.
According to a survey by Click-Away Pound, British retailers lose about £11.75 billion every year just because their website isn’t accessible to people with disabilities.
Making your website accessible to one and all will not only result in an increase in your customer base but also prevent your business from losing money.
2. Creates a positive image of your brand
Making your website accessible will help to create a positive image of your startup. Besides, it will also enhance your website’s SEO, resulting in an increase in organic traffic.
For example, when you add descriptive Alt Text to your images to comply with web accessibility standards, you increase the chances of the image to be found in the Google Image search, which in turn will lead the visitors to your website.
3. Web accessibility saves you a lot of money
As mentioned above, there has been a huge surge in the number of lawsuits claiming that a particular website is not accessible. Costs associated with making your website ADA compliant is low when compared with the cost associated with the legal action faced because of a lawsuit.
As a startup, it becomes difficult to bear the expenses of lawsuits. Also, it is important to remember that legal action will not only cost you money, but it will also damage your startup’s reputation.
4. Implementing web accessibility is easier when you’re a startup
Implementing web accessibility is much easier when you keep web accessibility standards in mind while building websites from scratch.
Incorporating accessibility when you have completed building the website might be a little challenging. In fact, as your business grows, the difficulty level in incorporating accessibility also increases.
Web accessibility plan for startups
Websites allow visitors to understand what your startup is all about. They might hear about you from someone else or might know some of the products you offer but they get to know about all of your products or services from your website.
The first step towards making your website accessible is structuring your HTML in an organised and semantic way. Using a skip content link in the header will help screen reader and keyboard users to reach the main content area without the need for scrolling.
Also, make sure you use descriptive text in all your images so screen readers can read it out for visually impaired people and help them understand the context/purpose of the image.
Adopting website accessibility can help you avoid ADA lawsuits and hefty legal costs associated with it. An ADA compliant website also enhances your website reputation. Remember, it is easier to make your website accessible when you’re starting to code it from scratch rather than making an already built website accessible. Make sure users can access your website with assistive technologies and without a mouse.