Solutions for Business
The reasons for an accessible business website vary as much as the businesses they represent. Whether your business is large or small, accessibility is important. Here are a few reasons why you should consider making your site accessible.
It's the right thing to do
Most people have a genuine desire to do what is right and would not knowingly discriminate against individuals with disabilities. Inaccessible site design may exclude many people from accessing the web content and functionality your group provides. It is gratifying to know that your organization is providing equitable treatment for all web users. This ethical motivation may prove a powerful motivator in getting your organization to focus on web accessibility.
It's the smart thing to do
Even though many businesses may be internally motivated by ethics, they have a responsibility to their employees and possibly their shareholders to make decisions that are fiscally responsible. There are several reasons why accessibility is good business:
- A site that is accessible is usually more standards-complaint (that is, it follows the standards given for how a website should be coded), which means fewer incompatibilities across browsers and less work when it comes time to redesign your site.
- An accessible site can more easily be accessed on alternative devices, such as smart phones and handhelds.
- There are literally millions of web users who have disabilities who may be drawn to your site if they know you have made an effort to increase accessibility. These individuals are a powerful economic force. The 2000 US Census data indicates that individuals with disabilities control over 175 billion dollars in discretional income annually.
- Creating an accessible site may be one of the best things you can do to optimize your search engine rankings.
It may be the law
In February 2006, Target joined the growing group of companies that have been sued or fined for an inaccessible web presence (other companies include Southwest Airlines, Priceline.com, and Ramada.com). Although the outcomes of these lawsuits have varied, they share a common thread: each has cost tens of thousands of dollars and resulted in negative exposure for the business.
The law regarding web accessibility in US business is not as clear-cut as it is in other countries, such as the UK. But every year, the connection between the American with Disabilities Act and the internet becomes stronger.
Additionally anyone who wishes to do business with the federal government needs to be sure that any web-based information or application they sell to them conforms to Section 508 standards.
Your needs may vary depending on the size of your organization, but WebAIM offers several services.
- If you are not sure if you want to commit time and resources, consider an initial review and brief (3-5 page) summary of the status of the site. This is an inexpensive way to learn where you stand in terms of accessibility. The review will also provide some reasons you may want to consider in improving your site's accessibility and some suggestions on where to start.
- If you already have an idea of the level of accessibility of your site, or if WebAIM has already identified where to start, the next step is to determine who will repair the site. If your site is static or if you used an external web design team, you may want to let WebAIM repair all or part of your site. If your site is updated regularly or if you employ an in-house web design team, it may make more sense to have WebAIM audit your site either provide a comprehensive report and use the findings to train your web designers. WebAIM's approach is one that empowers your organization to both implement accessibility and sustain it.
- Ask us about how an accessibility/usability plan can be designed specifically to improve your search engine rankings.
- WebAIM can also certify the accessibility of your site and perform occasional re-evaluations to extend your accessibility certification. Consider this option if you want to guarantee the accessibility of your site and are interested in periodical re-evaluations.
- If you are a vendor who works with US federal government, or many state governments, you may be required to complete a VPAT. A VPAT is a template that outlines the level of 508 conformance of your product.