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Why is making services digitally accessible so important?

  • Blog
  • 12 July '22
  • 4 mins
  • Tabby Duff

You’ve got a great-looking website and you’re excited for your audience to get stuck into all the amazing content and services on offer. But have you ever wondered what your website is like for someone with a disability or impairment?

If the answer is no, think again. Ensuring your digital services and channels are accessible to all in today’s ever-competitive world is an absolute necessity.

Digital accessibility has become increasingly important over the past couple of years, largely accelerated by the global lockdowns. Just think how important your local GP or council’s websites became during the pandemic. These services needed to be accessible as digital was often the only point of contact.

Since then, more and more businesses are putting effort into their digital channels to ensure all customers can access and use their services.

Put simply, the online world is a better place when every single person can access it. Let's dive into why digital accessibility is so important.

What is Digital Accessibility?

Digital accessibility refers to the usability of any digital media (e.g. websites, apps, videos etc.) by everyone, regardless of disability, age, or language.

Examples include:

  • Video with captions for those with hearing loss, or audio descriptions for the visually impaired,
  • Including ‘alt text’ on images,
  • Underlining URLs to ensure they are clearly clickable,
  • Having a variety of text size and colour preference options,
  • Having tab-navigable websites for users who might not be able to use a mouse.

Why is it so important?

According to the World Health Organisation, over 1 billion people live with some form of disability worldwide. That's 1 in 5 of us.

And bearing that whopping (and increasing) figure in mind, here are a few more facts…

  • 70% of digital content is not accessible
  • 98% of the world’s top one million websites don’t offer full accessibility
  • 80% of news sites are not accessible
  • 70% of public service websites are not accessible

Accessibility is no longer optional. If you’re not offering digitally accessible services, you’re losing a huge proportion of your potential audience. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do!

Improving User Experiences

Digital accessibility enhances and improves the user experience. And it doesn’t just benefit those with impairments – it benefits everyone. How many times have you made the text on your phone bigger so it’s more legible, or put captions on your Netflix show when you’re on a busy, loud train journey? It’s about striving for usable and inclusive experiences.

Word of Mouth

Better User Experience = Happy Customer

Happy Customer = Positive Feedback

Positive Feedback = More Business

If you offer digitally accessible experiences, this will lead to positive feedback about your organisation which in turn, has the potential to lead to more customers in future. If a user can navigate your services with ease, they are more likely to return for more and recommend your services to others.

New Jobs

More businesses are looking to hire accessibility specialists than ever. Just give ‘accessibility’ a quick search on LinkedIn and you’ll find a ton of job listings ranging from accessibility auditors to UX consultants.

From July 2020 to July 2021, the number of job listings with ‘accessibility’ in the title grew by 78% as companies reacted to the need for accessibility knowledge internally.

The Legal Stuff

If you don’t make your services accessible, you can literally be breaking the law.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is the international accessibility standard. In the UK, to meet government accessibility requirements, digital services must meet level AA of the WCAG 2.1 guidelines as a minimum.

Expect huge fines if you don’t comply! Just look at Dominos back in 2019 – they didn’t have an accessible website which meant that one particular man who was blind was unable to order a pizza, despite him using screen-reading software. Not only did Dominos have to deal with the legal costs, but they also had the cost to their reputation.

Ensuring your website follows regulations is a must if you want to remain competitive.

Better Results All Round

Not only does digital accessibility improve your UX, but it also helps with lower bounce rates, higher conversion rates, and better SEO (Search Engine Optimization) rankings – Google generally ranks accessible sites higher than others thanks to clear and easily crawlable content.

At Cantarus, we don’t just settle for meeting the minimum. We’ve documented an internal accessibility strategy with our entire Design team trained in how to make accessible designs. We’re also trained in running usability tests and have implemented a design system built on accessible principles for our most recent app projects.

Important Tools & Resources:

Time to tune your accessibility offering?

If you’d like an accessibility audit of your website, feel free to contact us at [email protected] or via our Live Chat for more information.

Headshot of Cantarus' Senior Content Marketer, Tabby

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