Sam Graves

Why is Accessibility Good for Business?

As an organization, prioritizing accessibility has an obvious moral component which should be the underlying factor. We all have a responsibility to be as inclusive as possible, whether that means ensuring accessibility through the design and usability of digital products, having accessible hiring practices, or simply making inclusion part of broader internal thought leadership. 

Prioritizing accessibility not only benefits individuals but also has a significant positive impact on the profitability of businesses.

Accessibility increases market reach

Perhaps most importantly, about 1.3 billion people worldwide (16%) have experienced a significant disability at some point in their lives. About 27% of adults in the U.S. have some type of disability.

Companies that fail to prioritize digital accessibility risk losing a significant customer base due to the inability of people with disabilities to access and navigate their websites.

Similarly, people with disabilities are likelier to shop online than the average person. This may be due to convenience or inability to leave the house because of their disability, among other factors.

Not surprisingly, people with disabilities are significant contributors to online sales. Online sales have become increasingly important in recent years following the digital retail and e-commerce boom during the COVID pandemic, as more and more people with and without disabilities shop online.

Accessibility drives innovation

Designing for accessibility can be a big boost for businesses. It can lead to greater innovation and new and creative ways of thinking. Accessible design can benefit everyone, not just those with disabilities.

As the number of people using mobile phones to browse the internet increases, having a responsive design has become even more important for web accessibility. Websites that prioritize accessibility also tend to be more “mobile-friendly” due to the implementation of responsive design.

By prioritizing accessibility for your websites and other digital properties up-front, you can build a more streamlined and cost-effective process for ensuring compliance and embedding universal design into everything your team is deploying.

Accessibility enhances brand image and reputation

Demonstrating a clear commitment to accessibility can positively impact an organization’s brand. Potential customers may be likelier to do business with companies emphasizing diversity and inclusion. Existing customers may be more likely to continue doing business with those companies and maybe even recommend them to others.

Research has shown numerous benefits to the brands of companies that institute diversity policies. This is why one of the first project milestones we support all our digital accessibility customers with is ensuring their website has a strong (and accessible) accessibility statement visible to their customers.

Accessibility minimizes legal risk

Digital accessibility does undoubtedly have a cost associated with it, but having an inaccessible website or other digital property can be even more costly because of a potential lawsuit. Digital accessibility lawsuits in the U.S. have consistently increased in recent years to roughly 4,000 in 2022, and courts are increasingly ruling in favor of digital accessibility.

A lawsuit can also damage an organization’s brand image and reputation. People may be hesitant to do business with companies that have gone through a digital accessibility lawsuit if not handled properly, especially if they have not followed up with creating accessible digital products or shown an ongoing commitment to ensure equitable digital access.

So, it is much more beneficial from a legal perspective to consider and design for accessibility from the beginning.

Accessibility improves SEO

Using digital accessibility best practices, such as writing alternative text for images, increases the likelihood of a website being ranked higher by Google and other search engines. A higher SEO ranking improves the probability that users will visit your website, which has obvious financial benefits. Improved SEO shouldn’t be the primary reason for practicing digital accessibility, but it is an added benefit all teams should strongly consider.

Accessibility has many other benefits!

As noted above, many companies design for accessibility simply because it is the right thing to do for potential and existing customers. But sometimes, the business benefits may be a more compelling argument to stakeholders or leadership on the importance of accessibility for your organization.

Whatever the reason, accessibility benefits all, especially in the long run.