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Why Web Accessibility Isn’t a Threat to Your Business

Jun 6, 2024

Business conversations about digital accessibility often start with negative terminology. That’s especially true when media outlets publish stories about web access: They often focus on lawsuits, especially the so-called “surf-by lawsuits" allegedly filed by activist law firms.  

Of course, it’s certainly true that lawsuits are expensive. By one estimate, digital accessibility lawsuits filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) cost around $25,000 on average

However, accessibility is an opportunity, not a cost — and if you think of digital access as a “threat" to your business, you need to change your perspective. Here’s why. 

Top brands understand the importance of web accessibility

For most businesses, accessibility is a legal requirement. This year, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) established technical requirements for Title II of the ADA, and the Department strongly recommends using those same requirements to ensure compliance with Title III (if you’re new to the discussion, here’s an explanation of how Title II and Title III apply to web content). 

 

But while you have a legal responsibility to provide equivalent access to users with disabilities, there are better reasons to take action. Accessibility is simply a good investment; it makes your website more useful for the 25% of Americans who have disabilities. That creates immediate opportunities:


The business case for accessibility is incredibly strong, which is why many top brands have prioritized an inclusive approach. One study published in PeerJ Computer Science found that 55% of high-performing eCommerce websites were conformant with the Level AA requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) — a relatively high rate of conformance.

Accessible websites work better for everyone

Within the tech community, accessibility is correctly treated as an essential component of the user experience. In 2021, Microsoft announced a five-year commitment to accessible design, pledging to use artificial intelligence (AI) and other tools to close the “disability divide.” Google has introduced built-in web browser features for testing accessibility, which are firmly aligned with WCAG.

For those companies, there are practical reasons to embrace inclusivity: When content works for people who use assistive technologies, it tends to work better for everyone. Websites that follow WCAG are easier for search engines to crawl; Windows applications that are designed with accessibility in mind are easier to operate and navigate. 

Regardless of whether you’re building a technology product, there’s a lesson here. Accessible design practices focus on people with disabilities, but they improve experiences for people of all abilities and make content significantly more robust. That means lower long-term costs for website development and maintenance.

Web accessibility is achievable, regardless of your budget

The advantages of accessibility are clear. However, all investments carry a cost, and many business leaders assume that they can’t afford to make improvements — or that other investments will offer a better return. 

In a Forrester study (PDF) commissioned by Microsoft, 31% of respondents said that “high costs" were the most significant barrier for providing accessible technologies. Another 26% cited “lack of funding available" as the most significant barrier. 

But in many cases, accessibility issues can be addressed at little or no cost. Adding alternative text to an image doesn’t take much time, and choosing accessible colors takes exactly as much time as choosing inaccessible colors.

AudioEye’s digital accessibility platform offers automated, self-managed, and expert-managed options, and its automated remediations can address about 50% of the most common accessibility issues that impact conformance. 

Some accessibility barriers require more work, particularly if they require human judgment for remediation. Still, every fix could potentially improve the experiences of real-life users — and every business is completely capable of maintaining an acceptable level of accessibility. 

Related: How Much Do "Reasonable Accommodations" Cost? Not Much

Start treating web accessibility as an investment, not a headache

Regardless of the size of your organization, you can take immediate steps to embrace accessibility. The Bureau of Internet Accessibility provides a free graded report that compares web content against the latest version of WCAG (currently, 2.2) to provide a snapshot of your current level of conformance. 

Get started with a free analysis. To learn more about the best practices of web accessibility, download our eBook: Developing the Accessibility Mindset.

Use our free Website Accessibility Checker to scan your site for ADA and WCAG compliance.

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