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Brands Are Losing Billions by Not Being Digitally Accessible (Clone)

Posted by David on Dec 5, 2019 3:41:58 PM

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes the duty of brick-and-mortar outlets very clear. People with hearing, vision, motor, and cognitive disabilities must be able to patronize businesses and enjoy their services to the fullest extent possible — without being subject to discrimination based on their disability.

What many organizations still don’t know, however, is the responsibility that they have in the digital space. It’s becoming increasingly clear, through cases such as the Domino’s Pizza lawsuit, that a company’s websites and mobile apps need to be just as accessible to people with disabilities as its physical location.

Yet not every business has caught up with the times — and as a result, they’re leaving huge sums of money on the table. Not only is digital accessibility the right thing to do from a legal and moral standpoint, it also makes sense economically.

Here's how companies are losing incredible amounts of revenue by not being digitally accessible, and how you can avoid this for your own business.

Digital Accessibility and E-Commerce

The growth of e-commerce has been one of the biggest internet success stories of the last few years. Market research firm eMarketer projects that U.S. retail e-commerce sales will more than double from $450 billion in 2017 to $970 billion in 2023. E-commerce now represents 11% of total U.S. retail sales, expected to grow to 16% in 2023.

Just like physical outlets, e-commerce sites need to be accessible in order to adequately service customers with a disability.

To measure the impact of lost e-commerce business due to insufficiently accessible websites, the United Kingdom’s Click-Away Pound survey asks people with disabilities about their online shopping experiences.

According to the 2016 survey, more than 4 million people in the UK have abandoned a retail website due to accessibility barriers. This figure is substantial — especially when you consider that there are 14 million people in the UK with disabilities, and 6.1 million with a disability affecting their use of the internet.

The survey also finds that customers who leave a website due to accessibility challenges have an estimated spending power of £11.75 billion ($15.38 billion USD). This represents roughly 10% of the UK’s entire annual spending on e-commerce.

Businesses may be entirely unaware that they’re losing revenue from potential customers with disabilities. According to the survey, more than 90% of customers who experience accessibility challenges don’t reach out to the business running the website.

The Click-Away Pound survey is concerned only with UK consumers, but the situation is very similar across the pond in the U.S.

A study from the American Institutes for Research estimates that as a group, Americans with disabilities have disposable income of $490 billion and discretionary income of $20 billion. The study notes that these figures are very similar to other significant customer segments that are highly desirable for marketers.

Unfortunately, like the UK, too many U.S. e-commerce websites are also failing to meet the needs of shoppers with disabilities.

In a 2019 study, Nucleus Research found that more than 70% of websites, including e-commerce sites, have “critical accessibility blockers” that render them unusable by many people with disabilities. The study also estimates that U.S. e-commerce retailers may be losing up to $6.9 billion annually to their competitors with more accessible websites.

What’s more, the effects of these accessibility challenges extend beyond the immediate loss of revenue. In the UK, for example, families who have at least one member with a disability represent a combined spending power of £249 billion ($326 billion USD).

If your business earns a poor reputation among shoppers with disabilities, news can spread quickly among their friends and family, which will negatively affect your brand as a whole.

How to Ensure Digital Accessibility for Customers with Disabilities

Given these billions of dollars in lost revenue, how can e-commerce retailers adopt an accessibility mindset and cater to customers with disabilities?

The good news is that digital accessibility doesn’t have to be difficult. Popular, widely-accepted web accessibility standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) outline exactly how websites can meet the needs of users with disabilities.

While there are a great many factors involved with accessibility for e-commerce websites, here are some key areas for e-commerce sites to pay attention to:

  • Checkout: Imagine the frustration for a user who gets items in their cart, has entered their information, and can't submit because something at the very end isn't accessible.
  • Form fields: All form fields (like shipping and payment information) need proper labels and error messaging.
  • Color schemes: Anyone can check their website's color contrast with free tools such as the a11y® Color Contrast Accessibility Validator.
  • Alt text: Product images (and all relevant non-text content) should have strong, accurate alt text that describes the content of each image.
  • Mobile shoppers: The percentage of e-commerce purchases on mobile devices is growing, so desktop and mobile versions of a site need to be thoroughly tested for accessibility.

Ready to make your site accessible?

You can get started with a free website accessibility scan to get a free graded report.

When you're ready, contact us so we can answer your questions and help you build a customized accessibility compliance strategy for your organization. We look forward to helping you achieve, maintain, and prove digital compliance.

Topics: Human Interest, Insider, Industry News, Knowing is half the battle

5 Smartphone Usage Statistics and the Growing Importance of Mobile Accessibility

Posted by Tracy on Dec 3, 2019 6:41:53 PM

The jokes and memes that the younger generations are glued to their smartphones appear to evolve from some truth — but research suggests that truth spans all age groups.

Thinking of mobile accessibility as secondary, or skipping it altogether, puts organizations at legal risk and makes it likely that a large percentage of users will have negative or even unusable experiences. Here are five stats to show why.

1. 81% of Americans own a smartphone

Sky-rocketing up from 35% in 2011, 81% of Americans now own a smartphone, according to Pew Research Center's Mobile Fact Sheet. While this fact probably isn't surprising as we get ready to usher in 2020, it is significant — and that figure jumps up to 96% of 18-to 29-year-olds.

The future of the web is mobile.

Further reading: Don't overlook iOS and Android testing

2. 37% of American adults access the web with a smartphone most of the time

This number, according to Pew Research Center's Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2019 report, is huge because it indicates a clear trend toward mobile-only web access. The statistics go further, clarifying over half (58%) of 18-to 29-year-olds use smartphones as their primary internet device, and that over a quarter (27%) of Americans skip out on broadband internet subscriptions altogether.

3. Almost 75% of internet users will be mobile-only by 2025

According to a report by the World Advertising Research Center (WARC), 72.6% of internet users around the world will only use their smartphones to get online by 2025. If accurate, this means within about five years, 3.7 billion people will be mobile-only (not own a smartphone or use desktop and mobile, but mobile-only).

Organizations simply can't wait until after this shift is completed to act or they will be left behind by their more accessible competitors.

4. 61% of people won't return to an inaccessible mobile site

Smartphone users who have trouble accessing a site are unlikely to return (61% according to one source). There a number of studies and reports on this topic, and the numbers vary based on a bunch of criteria, but all the number share this in common: they are big numbers.

This shouldn't be surprising. Whether a person with a disability can't use a site because of unnecessary accessibility barriers or a person without a disability has trouble using a site because something on it isn't functional or isn't easy to use, they're not likely to come back.

Organizations get one chance at a first impression and consumers in the digital age have enough options to hold onto a negative one.

Further reading:

5. 86% of screen reader users use a screen reader on a mobile device

According to the latest WebAIM Screen Reader User Survey, 86.3% of respondents said they use a screen reader on a mobile device or tablet. This percentage is higher than desktop computer (67.5%) and laptop (83.9%) screen reader usage.

The preference for the convenience of smartphone usage isn't limited or specific to any demographic.

Get your Definitive Checklist for Mobile Accessibility

Download the Definitive Checklist for Mobile Accessibility to help make your mobile experiences accessible for people with disabilities. Or, contact us to get started with an accessibility compliance strategy for your organization.

Topics: Human Interest, Insider, Accessibility UX, Knowing is half the battle

Get Your Braille and Large Print Letters from Santa: 2019

Posted by Gary on Nov 30, 2019 12:00:00 PM

December is just about here and Santa’s workshop is gearing up for their annual deluge of letters to Santa from children all over the world. Children anxiously await Christmas, with their excitement building as the day approaches. Carols, lights, and decorations surround us, and perhaps a snowfall or two will create a perfect scenery, maybe even a white Christmas. Receiving a letter from Santa adds to the joy and anticipation of the children. Fortunately, once again Santa is on top of his accessibility game, excluding no child, and prepared to send out letters to children in Braille and large print.

Organizations from around the world have teamed up again this year with Santa’s elves in sending out Braille letters from Santa. You can request using the list of organizations below. They’ve got a direct line to Santa and the North Pole — but act fast!

Get your requests in by these dates

Submit requests by December 2, 2019 for postal mail replies, or December 20, 2019 for email replies

RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) (UK)

It has been over 20 years that the team of elves and fairies at RNIB have pitched in to help Santa out in replies to his letters.

You can use an online form or send letters by post. Be sure to include the child’s first and last name.

Reply formats include uncontracted Braille, contracted Braille, large print (please specify the font size), audio CD, or email (16 point attachment).

Submit requests by December 12, 2019

Canada Post

Santa and his elves are busy this time of year, going through sacks of mail. Canada Post continues the tradition in helping out Santa with his mail, in more than 30 languages (and in Braille).

Submit requests by December 16, 2019

National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

For over ten years, Santa’s honorary elves have been sending out Braille letters to boys and girls in the United States who are ten years old and younger. Also included, will be a printed letter for parents and others who might not read Braille, to follow along.

BrailleWorks

Santa’s Braille Workshop is open again. Parents, teacher, and friends can put in for Braille letter from Santa, postmarked from the North Pole, which also includes a large print copy. Choose from four different letters.

Topics: Human Interest, Insider, People with Disabilities

A Message of Accessibility Thanks

Posted by CJ on Nov 28, 2019 12:00:00 PM

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at the Bureau of Internet Accessibility!

This year, we have so much to be thankful for. A special thanks to:

  • Our clients, who have committed to accessibility and inclusion. Thank you for seeing the value in making the web usable for all, and thank you for the opportunity to help you achieve, maintain, and prove digital compliance.
  • Our team, who are the best testers, developers, and subject matter experts in the business; the most reliable, supportive, and dedicated client managers; and the most engaged team players who thrive on sharing their accessibility knowledge, passion, and advocacy. Thank you for another amazing year, allowing us to find new ways to innovate and provide value, like our live 24/7 accessibility support line and Letter of Reasonable AccessibilityTM, both introduced this year.
  • The accessibility community, who continue to come together to improve best practices and push for positive change. Thank you for being generous with your knowledge, passionate in your (hard) work, and tireless in your commitment to using your multitude of talents to bridge the digital divide.
  • Our strong network of readers, who are so diverse in your backgrounds and in what you hope to gain from our content. We work hard to create material that educates, questions, and inspires through channels like our blog, newsletter, and social media. Thank you for your continued attention and support — our hope is that you find our content helpful.

We have a long way to go toward reaching widespread accessibility, but the progress made so far this year is encouraging and undeniable. Thank you, all of you, for all that you do to further this mission.

Topics: Human Interest

Xbox Accessibility Guidelines Provide Best Practices So More Gamers Can Play

Posted by CJ on Nov 22, 2019 12:00:00 PM

To further their mission of Xbox Accessibility, Microsoft released Xbox Accessibility Guidelines, "a set of best practices that have been developed in partnership with industry experts and members of the gaming and disability community."

Twenty-three guidelines are included, and for each guideline Microsoft provides an Overview, Implementation Guidelines, Applicable personas, and Resources or Tools.

For example, for Guideline 102: Contrast:

  • The Overview says, "The intent is to provide enough contrast between text and/or images and their background so that it can be read by people with color vision deficiencies or low vision."
  • The Implementation Guidelines include specific instructions for meeting minimum color contrast ratios.
  • The Applicable personas section identifies this guideline as benefiting users with little or no color perception, users with low vision a limited / no hearing, users with limited cognitive skills, and other users.
  • Resources or Tools includes links to helpful articles and tools, like an article explaining high contrast.

Related: The Basics and Importance of Color Contrast for Web Accessibility

Full list of Xbox Accessibility Guidelines

Part of a larger movement toward gaming accessibility

The Xbox Accessibility Guidelines, which Microsoft says, "are intended for designers to generate ideas, for developers as guardrails when developing their game and as a checklist for validating the accessibility of their title," are released at a time when the future of gaming looks to include a focus on accessibility.

Earlier this year, Microsoft released a series of Eyes First games, which use eye-tracking technology to play. Around the same time, IKEA and partners announced a new line of gaming accessories that use 3D-printing to making gaming more accessible.

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Topics: Accessibility Guidelines, Human Interest, Accessibility Requirements, Insider, Accessibility UX