What is Digital Accessibility – Its Importance & Why Does it Matter?

Graphical picture of Digital Accessibility
Digital accessibility is the process of designing websites, products, and technologies in a way that they can be accessed by every individual. This includes documents, videos, audio, hardware, websites, and other digital assets. Whether your user is visually impaired or has a cognitive disability, there are several reasons to make digital content accessible to everyone.

Why is Digital Accessibility Important?

According to a statistic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26% of the adult US population has some kind of disability. Among this number, 4.6% of the population have a vision impairment, while 10.8% suffer from cognitive disabilities. We all know how heavily people consume digital content these days. And, with the above- stated figure, imagine the number of people who are restrictedg from accessing your contentbecause of their disability.

If you are not working towards making your digital content obtainable to everyone by enforcing digital accessibility, then you are leaving out at least 2.2 billion of the global population who have visual impairments.

Apart from the “accessibility to all” issue, you also invite penalties and monetary damages
to your business if you fail to adhere to the accessibility guidelines. The Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) has highlighted website accessibility significantly. After digitalization
gained popularity, the term ADA website compliance became common. According to that,
you need to make your websites, applications (apps), or other digital properties accessible to every userRegardless of their abilities. And if you fail to comply with the rules, you are faced with penalties and other harsh expenses. Your business will be ordered to pay legal fees, and you will need to make the necessary fixes.

What Makes Digital Content Accessible?

The WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) has established a framework of four core principles, which serve as foundational pillars for ensuring inclusive design. These principles are encompassed by the acronym POUR:

  1. Perceivable – This principle emphasizes that the digital content is perceived by all users, regardless of whether they read the information or use assistive technology. For example, People with color vision deficiencies perceiving information in charts and graphs using alternative text descriptions.
  2. Operable – Operable content means users can successfully navigate through buttons, controls, and navigation tools without any hassles, even when they use assistive technologies like screen readers or Braille displays. For example, People with physical disabilities navigating through a website using voice commands.
  3. Understandable – This principle ensures that the user interface and digital content are easy for everyone to understand, no matter how they are presented. For example, People with cognitive disabilities understanding website instructions through clear and concise language.
  4. Robust – Robust digital content ensures compatibility with various devices and assistive technologies, making it easy for all users to access.

What is the Difference Between Web Accessibility and Digital Accessibility?

Web accessibility refers to the principles that make a website and other content and technologies equally accessible to people with disabilities. Every website, tool, and technique should be developed in a way that everyone, whether they have a disability or not, can perceive, operate, understand, interact, and contribute to the web.
Whereas digital accessibility includes web accessibility along with referring to the accessibility of everything digital videos, electronic documents, audio, animations, and mobile apps!

Why Should Businesses Focus on Digital Accessibility?

Today, digitally accessible content is not an option anymore. A business should be ADA-compliant regarding web accessibility. Not only is it a legal requirement, but as a business owner, it is also your ethical duty to make sure whatever content you put on the internet is non-discriminatory towards people with visual or cognitive impairments.

Digital accessibility is also known to be a proven strategy for operational success. In fact, 71% of the users with a disability will leave your website if it is not accessible. 

Here are other reasons why digital accessibility should be a focus of your business:
  1. Improve User Experience – Accessible content is going to increase user experience for people with all abilities. It will make it easier for everyone to navigate and read text.
  2. Increase Sales Revenue – You lose many potential customers if you do not make your digital content accessible. And we are not talking about a few hundred, but significant population of people. It is believed that a business sees an increase in its sales revenue when there is an accessible design as it:
    • Reaches a larger customer base
    • Makes your site easier to use
    • Improves your SEO rankings
    • Drives innovation
  3. Eliminate Chances of Getting Penalized – In the United States, businesses must comply with the digital and web accessibility ADA.Your business will undergo costly lawsuits if you do not follow the rules and regulations set to make content accessible.
So, ensure you comply with the laws and avoid getting penalized.
Incorporating Digital Accessibility
Previously, accessibility was only applied to physical, private, and public spaces. But today, as the world has taken a turn with the widespread of technology, it has expanded its wings to the digital world. Businesses, technologies, litigations, and others must push themselves further to achieve complete digital accessibility to stay inclusive and compliant with the laws. And as the internet continues growing to provide digital solutions, web developers need to level up and include elements of digital accessibility!

Get AI-Driven Accessibility Solutions

Empower your organization with scalable, cost-effective, and efficient tools for an inclusive user experience.

Editors:

Debangku Sarma

Digital Marketing Associate
Continual Engine

Vijayshree Vethantham

Senior Vice-President, Growth & Strategy
Continual Engine US LLC

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