As user experience continues to be a core focus for website owners, making your website compatible with WCAG 2.1 guidelines for website accessibility is a must. It’s not just about practicality, either. From an inclusion standpoint, making it easy for people with disabilities to use your website is also the right thing to do. With nearly 15% of global citizens (roughly 1 billion people) having a disability of some sort, making your website accessible also increases your site’s appeal to a sizable potential customer base.
To further sweeten the deal, having an ADA-compliant website may also help you avoid any legal issues. While ADA-related lawsuits declined during the first half of 2020, reversing the rising trend of previous years (likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic), they are expected to rebound as courts start to reopen.
In addition, many other statistics and data make a compelling case for improving your website accessibility in 2021. Our ultimate list of web accessibility and ADA statistics shares more insight:
A 2018 study found that a little over 1% of the U.S. population has a visual disability. Accessibility-promoting steps include optimizing on-page text for screen readers by using alt text tags and providing background and text contrast ratios that are easily viewable by those with vision disabilities.
According to the World Health Organization, only 17% of those who could benefit from a hearing aid actually use one. What’s more, 1.1 billion individuals ages 12-35 are at risk of disabling hearing loss due to exposure to noisy environments. It’s estimated that by 2050, the number of people with disabling hearing loss will have nearly doubled to 900 million people.
With such rapid potential growth in hearing disabilities around the world, maintaining ADA compliance will likely become a much larger priority in the coming years.
WebAIM conducted a study in 2020 that found the vast majority of websites do not offer a fully accessible experience. Or, put another way, less than 2% of the world’s top one million websites are capitalizing on the disability market. This is a largely underserved and growing market, and making adjustments to the web experience may serve as an under-the-radar competitive advantage.
Accessibility makes it easier for all visitors to use a site, helping improve the customer experience as a whole. An additional benefit is that many of the factors that make a website accessible also make it easier to index by search engines. With people now accessing sites from a variety of devices, making your website accessible can help increase conversions by improving the overall customer experience for visitors to the site.
WebAIM’s latest Screen Reader survey found that of those who regularly utilize screen readers, 60% feel the accessibility of web content has either not changed or become worse over the past year. More than 70% believe this is due to a lack of web accessibility awareness or skills.
Trying to manually audit each webpage for WCAG compliance before publication can cause a production bottleneck, given that most content creators don’t have the technical knowledge to perform such audits themselves. This is in addition to the sheer time required to perform such an audit even for those familiar with the guidelines. A solution to this issue is automating key governance processes to ensure compliance with guidelines such as WCAG 2.1.
Some CMS platforms with native digital governance capabilities, such as Crownpeak DXM, automate WCAG-compliance testing, speeding things up by allowing contributors to automatically verify compliance with accessibility standards. This functionality offers organizations an opportunity to improve their competitive position by boosting SEO and customer experience.
An article published by Forbes cited a study that found more than seven out of 10 web users with disabilities won’t tolerate non-accessible websites. Instead, they’ll leave a website in search of one that’s more user-friendly, which can increase a website’s bounce rate and potentially harm its organic rankings.
With a quality customer experience now a prime competitive factor in driving revenue and customer loyalty, emphasizing accessible and inclusive experiences is key. People with disabilities are more likely to purchase online than in person, so making sure your website is accessible is essential to staying competitive with this group.
An accessibility compliance report by Ovum found that the websites of many of the largest companies in America are not meeting their WCAG compliance obligations. The study found 815,600 WCAG compliance issues in the Fortune 100 site pages sampled. A startling 86% of the issues found were at the most basic “Level A”, showing that enterprises were struggling to achieve even a minimum level of conformance with the guidelines.
The disabled population in the United States alone contains $500 billion in spending power, with global spending power estimated to be $1.2 trillion. Companies who make online accessibility a priority are poised to capture their share of this profitable market. This is in large part because 71% of people with disabilities will leave a website that isn’t accessible.
However, when companies are accommodating to this market, they improve customer experience, strengthen customer relations, and help foster brand loyalty.