The Costs of Ignoring Accessibility

Even if accessibility is not a legal requirement for your organization, ignoring accessibility can still cost you.

1. Revenue

The first way is with revenue. Let’s look at a few statistics.

  • In the United States, about 20% of people have a disability, which could include color blindness, a broken arm, multiple sclerosis or dyslexia, to name a few.
  • People with disabilities have a total income of almost $873 billion and a disposable income of about $645 billion.
  • 71% of users with a disability leave a website that is not accessible.

Consider these real-world situations and how having an inaccessible website and documents could be costing your organization revenue:

A veteran who lost both of his hands uses an assistive device with his computer. He wants to make a donation, but he can’t get to the donation page because the navigation isn’t accessible. If it were, he could use his device or tab through from the keyboard. He makes a donation on another organization’s website.

A legally blind woman wants to make a donation to your organization but finds it hard to read the small light gray text on the website. She doesn’t use a screen reader so she zooms in on the text in the browser. It’s still too light for her to read. She leaves the site feeling frustrated.

A man with color blindness is looking at the programs you offer on your website. He is unable to make out the hyperlinks to the programs because to him they don’t look any different from the body text. He leaves and goes to a competitor’s site, where it’s much easier to do what he needs to do.

A woman with full hearing loss goes to watch a video on your site that promotes a service your nonprofit offers. There are no captions, so she doesn’t understand how the service can help her. Your organization just missed out on helping someone.

2. Reputation

Ignoring accessibility negatively affects your organization’s reputation, which is one aspect of your branding.

When you alienate potentially 20% of your website visitors, it comes across as “We don’t care about being inclusive.” That gives your nonprofit organization a negative reputation.

There’s a great saying by Ekaterina Walter:

“If we do not intentionally include, then we will unintentionally exclude.”

People with a disability are three times as likely to avoid an organization that ignores accessibility and twice as likely to dissuade others from doing business with it.

I am sure you know how much word of mouth and reviews on Facebook or Google can help or hurt an organization.

3. Remediation

Remediation, which means making the document or website accessible, is another cost.

It is much more costly to remediate a website and documents after the fact, when accessibility is an afterthought, than it is to incorporate it into the design and layout or development process to begin with.

Some websites and documents we’ve remediated ended up costing three times as much as they might have if we had been hired to do them from the beginning rather than being handed files after everything was approved and done.

A website accessibility audit can easily cost a couple to several thousand dollars. Then there is the cost of a web developer to fix those issues. After that, there is the cost of a follow-up audit to make sure changes were made correctly and that no new issues were made in the process.

Remediation is not only a financial cost but one of time.

Often when we are remediating InDesign files or websites, we have to modify the color palette or the design in order to get the colors to work.

You end up revisiting the design process. Plus, it requires you to review the new look, which adds additional time you probably hadn’t planned on.

4. Visual Brand Recognition

Remediation is not just a financial cost or time suck. It can also affect your visual brand recognition. Color plays a big part in that.

You don’t want your remediated website to look one way, with certain colors, and then your documents and other marketing materials look another way, with other colors.

It’s important they are consistent. That will affect the integrity of their visual branding.

Will your organization lose out on donations or sales as a result of design or color changes that don’t keep in mind the branding, since some people may not immediately recognize your branding?

5. Search Engine Rank

A lot of websites in general are bloated with code, which slows them down. However, accessible websites may rank higher than inaccessible ones due to the use of proper code—and less code at that.

That means your organization’s website could have faster page load times and get a boost in Google search results. Ranking higher than a competitor could be the edge to get a donation or sale.

Accessibility is also about properly formatted content (text, images, audio and video). That means that search engines may display more relevant content from an accessible site in their search results. That can mean someone clicks through and stays on the site longer because it was the information they were looking for.

6. Potential Legal Issues

Note: This is not legal advice, and you should consult with one about your potential legal risk.

Potential legal issues are another problem with ignoring accessibility. With web accessibility lawsuits, most organizations end up writing a check. That amount could range anywhere from $1,000 to even as much as $350,000 for legal fines and fees for both parties.

But paying those legal fees isn’t the end of it.

A court may order that the site be remediated within a certain timeframe. But that doesn’t mean someone else—a new plaintiff—couldn’t come along and make another claim in the meantime.

Also, paying those fees doesn’t relieve you from remediating the website. That would still need to be done.

Help With Accessibility

Get in touch if you need help understanding if your InDesign files or website is accessible:

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