The importance of an accessible website

If you own a business or shop, we all know the importance of the facility being accessible – it is often a legal requirement. Not everyone can access venues as easy as other people, and disability legislation and requirements help to cater for this, by ensuring these people are protected. Have you ever thought about how this same concept applies to websites, when that same section of society needs to access the web? We’ll take a closer look at this topic in our latest article.

Everyone knows that SEO is about enhancing your website to ensure it is more appealing and thus, promoted better by the search engines. One thing that often gets overlooked however, is how accessible it is to people with disabilities. Whether websites are looked on more favourably by search engines because they are accessible is not clear from guidance provided, and some would argue that the absence of such coverage points to the fact that there is no real SEO benefit. Just because there is little SEO benefit however, doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be done. Being an accessible webmaster can provide other benefits – an audience you wouldn’t normally get and greater conversions for example. Business today is all about competition and being set apart from competitors. Being ‘accessible friendly’ is one way you can promote yourself as someone different with a good set of business morals / values, whilst being able to help a section of society which is often overlooked.

America particularly is quite hot on this subject, and the fines levied at companies who do not host accessible websites have been very stark – as much as to set an example or make a point to everyone else. From research it would seem that companies have been fined as much as $10,000 on one occasion, with a threat that if the problems identified were not remedied, the fine would increase further up to a statutory maximum of $150,000!

In this country we don’t often see or hear of any big penalties like that, but there is still a legal requirement to make websites accessible. According to UK law, if certain standards are not met, then companies can be sued under discrimination with the Equality Act 2010 (and subsequent enhancements) being cited to protect this area of society. Whilst it is rarer here, it doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen.

What are some of the accessibility problems that people face?

The below are some of the most common issues that people with disabilities face when accessing the web or internet sites.

* Java-script problems making drop down menus not fully accessible.

* Navigation menus not working for all types of screens.

* Password fields not working with all screen formats.

* Problems with PDF files which would not convert to HTML format.

* Text was not scalable meaning it could not be read by all.

* Alt tags were not completed or did not fully explain the purpose.

This list is designed to get you thinking whether your own website meets this criteria and what enhancements you could make to ensure you appeal to all areas of society.

The thing to remember on this topic is the important difference between ‘need’ and ‘want.’ You ‘need’ to ensure your website is accessible for legal reasons – that though is a basic minimum. You should ‘want’ to ensure your website is accessible because it is the moral and ethical thing to do. Those things are principles of a strong and respected business.

Has this blog post got you thinking about your own website and conversion optimisation? Click our link to find out more.



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