This article will not contain any accessibility best practices. It will not tell you any quick fixes you can make to your websites and apps to make them more usable for people with disabilities. It will not be technical at all. But yet, it will tell you the single most important thing you can do to improve web accessibility.
So, what is the single most important thing you can do to improve web accessibility?
Web accessibility is the practice of making sure websites and apps are built to be accessible to people with disabilities, allowing them to navigate, consume, and contribute to web content. The most important thing you can do to further that mission is to take accessibility seriously. Take the risks seriously. Take the rewards seriously. Take the direct impact on people's lives seriously.
When you do this, when you take the time to understand these factors, you're likely to begin to prioritize accessibility — and when you prioritize accessibility, when it is something you want to achieve (not have to achieve), you're likely to find that a lot of the pieces just start to fit in place.
Take the risks seriously
If your digital presence is not accessible to people with disabilities and to the assistive technology some may use, to put it simply, your organization is at risk — potentially legally, potentially reputationally, potentially from a bottom-line loss.
Web accessibility lawsuits nearly tripled in 2018 as more Americans are opting to exercise their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and demand that websites and apps be usable to them.
Take the rewards seriously
In addition to the obvious benefit of enabling everyone to access your tools, products, and services, accessibility has other less-obvious benefits. To name a few:
- Reaching a wider audience
- Building a positive brand
- Improving SEO
- Increasing usability for everyone
- Writing cleaner, higher-quality code
Any of these benefits would be worthwhile pursuing, and it's amazing how building accessible experiences can skyrocket each of these (and so many more).
Take the direct impact on people's lives seriously
Despite some of the more common and unfortunate myths in this space, people with disabilities do use computers and smartphones, and they are your customers and potential customers. When websites and apps contain unnecessary accessibility barriers, the fact of the matter is that segments of people cannot use them — whether that's online banking, learning about products and services, online shopping or comparing sales, or yes, even liking a cat photo.
We can achieve accessibility
The technology is there to make most everything accessible. But, that can only happen when people commit, truly commit, to making sure that our future is one that doesn't discriminate on the basis of disability, but uses the amazing technical advancements that are introduced and enhanced every day to bridge the digital divide.
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