Many people have misconceptions about accessibility. So when it gets brought up, there may be pushback. Get the facts so that you can get coworkers or board members on board with accessibility and counter some common excuses you may hear.
1. “We can’t afford accessibility.”
Many people have assumptions that accessibility is “expensive.” This may be the most common excuse when it comes to accessibility. So you might hear “We can’t afford accessibility.”
What you really can’t afford though, especially when your resources are already stretched thin and you need to have maximum impact with what you’ve got, are:
- lost sales or donations to a competitor,
- a negative reputation or bad word of mouth, or
- an accessibility lawsuit.
Lost Sales or Donations
Usually money gets someone’s attention the most. When it comes to revenue from sales and donations, consider these facts…
In the United States, people with disabilities have a total income of almost $873 billion and a disposable income of about $645 billion, according to the Return on Disability Group’s 2016 annual report.
A U.K. grocery chain, Tesco, made an additional £13 million a year after investing £35,000 to make their website accessible, according to the UK’s Royal National Institute of the Blind.
Data from the Click-Away Pound Survey showed that 71% of users with a disability will leave a website that is not accessible. When someone leaves your website and goes to a competitor’s site, they may not come back.
They will also tell others, which impacts your brand. People with a disability who encounter an inaccessible website are three times as likely to avoid that organization and twice times as likely to tell others to avoid it, according to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Other potential costs include legal complaints or lawsuits. Legal fines and fees can range anywhere from $1,000 to $350,000 per claim. Those amounts don’t even include remediating a website or documents.
Legal requirement or not, anyone can sue.
The Costs of Accessibility
On the flip side, are there costs involved with accessibility?
Sure. There is some additional work involved to make something accessible. However, the bulk of the work to make something accessible involves proper code for a website and proper layout practices for documents—and it should be done throughout the process, not tacked on at the end.
Unfortunately, many web designers and developers and document designers don’t use proper practices.
2. “Accessibility doesn’t apply to us.”
Most people think that if you’re not a government agency or an organization or business that falls under the ADA, you don’t have to be concerned with accessibility.
But even if your organization does not have a legal requirement, you can reap many benefits from accessibility.
One is revenue. When your site and documents are accessible, you can see an increase in revenue because more people are able to access your content and take action on your site.
For example, they will be able to read and understand the content in your annual report and find out about the work you’re doing. That will motivate them to support your work. If they want to support your work and make a donation or a purchase, they will be able to do that on your website.
Your organization will also benefit from your website and documents providing a good user experience—not just for people with disabilities but everyone.
A good user experience means that people are more likely to stay on your site. It also means that your audience can find the information they need, are able to read it and can take action.
They will be able to access your audio or video content whether or not they:
- have a hearing disability;
- are the native speaker of the language in the audio or video; or
- are in a noisy environment such as with kids playing nearby or a quiet environment such as a library, where they can’t play audio without earbuds.
A good user experience also means that someone with blindness or a motor disability who doesn’t use a mouse can get around your website and documents.
People without a disability will appreciate a good user experience, even if they don’t realize it’s due to accessibility.
When that happens, people are more likely to say positive things about the business—to their family and friends, on social media, on review sites.
What’s good for business is also good for your organization’s reputation.
Accessibility also ensures your organization’s communications are readable and understandable to everyone. That means you reach 20% more people.
It means that individuals with low vision can still read your content and that individuals with color blindness can understand the data in your charts. It also means that individuals who use a screen reader or braille reader can understand your content and get around it.
Having accessible content can also give your organization an edge over competitors whose content isn’t accessible.
Remember that data about people with a disability leaving a site that isn’t accessible? That could be a competitor’s site, with them coming to yours instead.
Not only that, but Google may rank pages on your site higher on search results pages than those of a competitor.
3. “Only large corporations get sued over accessibility.”
Another excuse for not implementing accessibility is that “Only large corporations get sued over accessibility” or “We’re too small for someone to sue us over accessibility. We’re not Target or Domino’s.”
Several web developers have contacted me when their clients, who were tiny businesses, got a letter from an attorney for not having an accessible website.
When this happens, organizations are left writing a check for legal fines and fees. It’s too costly to fight it, and they may not win.
But the situation doesn’t end there. You have to pay to remediate (fix) your website. You may be given a timeframe in which to get that done, but that doesn’t prevent someone else from coming along and making another legal claim against your organization.
4. “We haven’t gotten any complaints.”
Another common excuse is “But we haven’t gotten any complaints.” But lack of complaints doesn’t mean everything is fine.
Most people are not going to contact you to say your site or documents are inaccessible. Most people are simply going to go elsewhere.
You may never know that you lost a sale or donation due to having an inaccessible website.
Remember that 71% of people with a disability leave a website that is not accessible.
5. “We have limited resources.”
Another common excuse is “We have limited resources.”
Your organization may already be stretched thin, lacking time to take any extra steps or spend time getting accessibility training.
But when you incorporate accessibility into your processes, it doesn’t take nearly the amount of time, effort or money that it does to address it later.
There are also a lot of small steps you can take that will make your content more accessible.
6. “Our target audience isn’t people with disabilities.”
Some people may counter accessibility with “Our target audience isn’t people with disabilities.”
But, like I mentioned earlier, accessibility is good for everyone.
Plus, you can’t see who is coming to your website or reading your documents.
Unless someone tells you, complains or sues, you don’t know if they have a disability or not. Many disabilities are not visibly obvious.
7. “The number of people with disabilities is small.”
Many people think that the number of people with disabilities is small. They also may think that accessibility is all about blindness and wheelchairs.
So they may be surprised to learn that people between the ages of 18 to 64 comprise a large percentage of people with disabilities.
For example, of people aged 18 to 64 in the U.S with a disability:
- 9 million have an auditory disability.
- 3 million have a motor disability.
- 9 million have a visual disability.
- 8 million have a cognitive disability.
Approximately 7.5 million people have a visual disability such as:
- Color blindness,
- Low vision,
- Blindness (which is not the largest group of people with a visual disability).
Approximately 11.4 million people have an auditory disability—deafness or hearing loss.
Almost 21 million people have a motor disability, which could include:
- Chronic arthritis,
- Lost limb,
- Multiple sclerosis,
- Muscular dystrophy,
- Cerebral palsy,
- Broken arm.
More than 15 million people have a cognitive disability, such as:
- Down syndrome,
- Memory loss.
8. “Someone with a disability can just call us if they have an issue.”
Another excuse you might hear is that it’s OK that the website or documents are not accessible because an individual with a disability could just call your organization. But that is not an acceptable alternative to not providing accessible content.
Regardless, most people with a disability who encounter a website that isn’t accessible to them will leave and go to a competitor’s site, as opposed to spending their time calling to get the information that others are able to find online.
9. “It’s not our fault the website plugin outputs inaccessible content.”
You may also hear that it’s not your fault the website plugin outputs inaccessible content.
Often, organizations believe that because they did not create those plugins or tools, they are not responsible for their accessibility, so that excuses them from being accessible. However, the organization is responsible for making the decision to use them or not.
So while you cannot control the accessibility of third-party solutions, you can choose which ones to use. If you are looking to make your site accessible, it’s important to choose third-party solutions that are also accessible.
For example, if you use a form plugin on your website and the forms it outputs are not accessible to sighted keyboard users or screen reader users, then they may not be able to fill out the forms at all or correctly.
Adding a third-party tool to your website can greatly impact its accessibility. Therefore, the accessibility of whatever functionality you add to your website should always be considered.
Hopefully, this information will help you educate coworkers or board members and make the case for accessibility.
Contact us today for help making your website or documents accessible, or find out more about accessibility training for your designer and developer.