Sam Graves

5 Reasons Why a Web Accessibility Audit is Important

As digital connectivity expands, ensuring website accessibility has become a crucial business and technology objective. This guarantees that all individuals, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, can use and access websites.

As a global leader in accessibility, Allyant understands the profound impact that a well-executed web accessibility audit can have on businesses and organizations worldwide to meet compliance and human rights goals. 

Through our digital accessibility auditing solutions, we perform live-user accessibility testing of hundreds of websites, platforms, and mobile applications each year, providing us with unique insight into the successful outcomes from a strong accessibility roadmap. 

Through a reflection on these successful outcomes, we have outlined five key reasons why your organization should invest in a thorough web accessibility audit:

Accessibility is a human right!

It is ethical and empathetic to ensure that your organization’s website or mobile app is accessible to people with disabilities. Roughly 16% of the world’s population and about 20% of the U.S. live with a disability. It is also often overlooked that this makes disability the largest minority group in the U.S. By conducting a web accessibility audit and developing a robust accessibility project plan, your organization can rest assured that it is fulfilling its moral obligation to provide equal access to users with disabilities. Investing in accessibility is about achieving business objectives, doing the right thing, and offering customers access regardless of their abilities. Although web accessibility benefits users with disabilities in particular, these features benefit users without disabilities as well. Captions are an excellent example of how web accessibility helps all. Captions are helpful in noisy places where people cannot hear a video’s sound or quiet places where people do not want to disturb others. A web accessibility audit and successful remediation roadmap ensure everyone has equitable access.

Reach a much wider audience

One of the main goals of digital access points for organizations is to drive more business and product or service awareness. Given the disability statistics above, investing in a web accessibility audit ensures your organization won’t miss out on business from a substantial customer base. Particularly since COVID, people with (and without) disabilities are likelier to do business online. If people with disabilities cannot access certain websites or mobile apps, those organizations will potentially be at a massive sales disadvantage compared to organizations prioritizing web accessibility. People with disabilities are also more likely to shop online than people without disabilities – increasing the importance of accessibility conformance and usability of digital products. This may be due to several factors, including health and lack of transportation.

An aging population also supports this point. It is estimated that there will be 71 million people over 65 by 2030. As people age, disability becomes increasingly likely. Businesses will want to ensure they reach such a massive group of people.

Improve brand image and perception

Engaging in a web accessibility audit project plan, when the outcome provides actionable and prioritized remediation steps, positively impacts an organization’s brand image and perception. Numerous studies have shown that customers are likelier to do business with companies that value “doing what’s right,” which includes prioritizing inclusion and equitable access through a web accessibility project plan. People are generally more inclined to recommend companies who value accessibility and inclusion to others – which is one of the main reasons why actively promoting strong and consistent Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives (DEI) have gained so much traction in recent years. However, DEI initiatives must also remove digital access barriers to be successful! This is also why Allyant recommends all organizations develop strong and clear accessibility statements on their websites to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to inclusion.

Minimizes legal risk

A thorough web accessibility audit also minimizes legal risks organizations face daily. With a rapidly increasing number of web accessibility lawsuits in the U.S. – more than 3,200 in 2022 with tens of thousands of demand letters on top of that – it has become increasingly essential for companies to invest in a good faith effort surrounding website accessibility. Audits can save organizations tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, by protecting companies from potential lawsuits and other legal action and providing them with a means to defend their actions and show an already established web accessibility project plan and remediation roadmap. This may be the best example of the fact that although there is a cost regarding creating accessible digital products, not doing so will potentially cost companies much more, with the end project result, whether an organization is proactive or reactive, being identical in both scenarios! 

Improves search engine optimization (SEO)

One positive side effect of ensuring web accessibility through a comprehensive audit is improved SEO. Search engines will rank accessible websites higher than non-accessible ones. For example, a webpage with a descriptive title (an accessibility best practice) will perform better concerning SEO than a generic one. Because the webpage’s content is clearly defined in the page title, search engines will rank the page higher, increasing the likelihood of the webpage being found in an Internet search. Alt text and transcripts can also benefit SEO. Ensuring web accessibility can increase traffic to your website or mobile app and make it more usable for people with disabilities.

Importance of live-user testing

Keep in mind when considering a web accessibility audit the importance of real users completing an audit rather than relying solely on automated testing tools. 

Although an automated tool can provide an initial assessment of your website’s accessibility, manual testing offers a significantly higher level of accuracy and encompasses a much larger portion of the WCAG Success Criteria.

Do you want to conduct a web accessibility audit for your website?

Allyant focuses on including people with disabilities in all of our website and mobile application audits, as these people have personal experience with online accessibility barriers and can fold in usability best practices. 

If your team wants to build a web accessibility audit and project roadmap, check out our article that provides an actionable checklist for assessing reputable vendors. Fill out the form below to get started on a live-user audit project.

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