What all goes into digital accessibility, and how do you measure ROI?
Digital accessibility is something that should be on the radar for every single business, no matter how big or small.
If you have a website, if you communicate with people online in any capacity, and if you offer online products or services— people need to be able to access and use your content. Because if they can’t access and use it, they can’t buy from you.
A common mistake that many businesses make is they design their website, products, and services based on how they like to interact online, without considering that there are billions of other people out there who interact differently.
Digital accessibility refers to the practice of designing digital content that can be accessed and used by all individuals, regardless of abilities or disabilities.
In this post we’ll break down exactly what digital accessibility is, what it entails, and what measurable results you can expect when you invest your resources into making your offers and content more accessible.
This post was written in partnership with Erin Perkins, Founder of Mabely Q. She offers custom-tailored accessibility audits, consulting and education for businesses to make businesses “Successible.” (That’s success + accessible put together, because the better you can serve your community, the more your business can thrive.)
What is digital accessibility and what does it usually entail?
Before diving into the specifics of digital accessibility, it is important to first understand the broader concept of accessibility. Accessibility refers to the practice of designing products, environments, and services to be usable by all people, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.
According to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll, 85% of people believe that accessibility solely pertains to physical accommodations like wheelchair ramps and curb cuts when asked about what accessibility means.
When we ask what digital accessibility means, another survey from Userway revealed that 70% of people believe that accessibility only applies to website design.
Digital accessibility refers to the practice of designing digital content that can be accessed and used by individuals with disabilities. This includes individuals who are blind or have low vision, deaf or hard of hearing, or have mobility or cognitive disabilities.
Digital accessibility entails making sure that digital content, such as websites, mobile apps, and digital documents, can be used by individuals with disabilities.
Businesses often overlook accessibility when designing their framework, even though it is a crucial aspect. As a standard, businesses want to know what the return on investment is. However, as Dannie Lynn Fountain points out in “Ending Checkbox Diversity,” the traditional ROI model is rooted in white supremacy and fails to account for the importance of diversity and inclusion.
What does digital accessibility look like?
- Add alternative text for images
- Use clear & simple language
- Have alternative formats (written, audio, and/or video)
- Including captions and transcripts for video or audio content
- Structuring your content for simple keyboard navigation
- Providing accessible forms
- High color contrast
- Optimizing your website for mobile
Why are businesses prioritizing digital accessibility?
It improves your messaging and content overall
A lot of what goes into making your content accessible is making it clearer, simpler to follow, and easy to navigate and use. That doesn’t just benefit people with disabilities, you’re making your website and content better (and perform better) for everyone.
Take your SEO content for example. Google has suggested that 27 percent of the global population uses voice search (and the number of people using voice search is rising every year). If you make your content accessible to those who need to use voice search, you’re also going to make your content easier to access for those who prefer to use it.
It demonstrates a commitment to social responsibility
People want to buy from (and work for) businesses that align with their values. There are many examples where businesses have seen improvements in customer retention, loyalty, and employee engagement after making genuine and impactful commitments and changes to amplify or support marginalized voices in their communities.
You can reach and connect with a much wider audience
There are over 1.3 billion people worldwide who live with a disability. And in the United States, 1 in 4 adults live with a disability. It’s estimated that the disability market controls over $13 trillion in disposable income.
Simply put, if people can’t read, listen, or connect with your content— they can’t buy from you.
You can avoid any potential legal and financial issues
Only 3% of the internet is fully accessible, highlighting a pressing issue at hand: digital inaccessibility. If a business fails to ensure digital accessibility:
- Discrimination claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in places of public accommodation, which can include websites and mobile apps. (Source: U.S. Department of Justice)
- Lawsuits related to inaccessible digital content: There have been several high-profile lawsuits (including one related to Domino’s Pizza) in recent years related to inaccessible digital content, including websites and mobile apps. These lawsuits often allege violations of the ADA or other laws related to disability rights. (Source: Seyfarth Shaw LLP)
- Compliance issues related to federal and state regulations: Federal and state regulations, such as Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), require certain levels of accessibility for government websites and other digital content. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in legal consequences. (Source: U.S. Access Board)
- Negative impact on brand reputation: Inaccessible digital content can harm a business’s reputation, particularly if the business is perceived as not valuing diversity and inclusion. This can lead to lost customers and revenue.
- Negative impact on search engine optimization (SEO): Inaccessible digital content can negatively impact a business’s SEO efforts, as search engines prioritize websites and content that are accessible and user-friendly.
How can you measure the ROI of your digital accessibility efforts?
Measure how many more people find you through your accessible content
Many of the changes you would make to improve the accessibility of your website, are also SEO ranking factors as they make your site easier to navigate, read, and understand. You could see an increase in your rankings as well as increased traffic from search engines.
If your educational content (blogs, social media posts, videos, freebies, etc.) is available in various formats (including captions, transcripts, audio recordings, etc.), you’ll likely be able to reach more people who can engage with your content. Measure how your efforts impact your reach, engagements, and views (and ideally, how many of those people are clicking your call-to-actions to subscribe, book, or buy from you!).
Measure how many more engage and convert after you implement changes for digital accessibility
By making your website more accessible you will streamline the overall user experience of your site, and it’s not uncommon to see increases in your site and funnel conversion rates.
Look for things like an increase in people clicking to your offers, starting a checkout or booking process, and completing a purchase or conversion.
Measure how much longer and more loyal your customers are after you implement changes for digital accessibility
When a person has an incredible experience with your business, they’re going to stay longer and if/when the opportunity arises— they’re going to tell their network about it.
For example, if you have a membership that has video content provided— and none of those videos are captioned or have transcripts. People who need to read (or even just prefer to) aren’t going to stick around for long.
When you implement changes in your programs and offers, measure how that impacts the customer feedback, your retention metrics, and your referral rate.
What steps can you take to audit and improve your business’ digital accessibility?
Well, I hate to break it to you, but there’s no simple checklist that you can pass off to your website team and then say “we’re covered!” Truly making your business accessible goes much deeper than that and the best way to start is to work with an expert.
Ready to prioritize digital accessibility for your business?
Say goodbye to “one-size-fits-all” solutions, and say hello to a tailored approach for your unique needs.
With Accessibility Education Made Easy, you can boost your business’s inclusivity and success, while making a positive impact on society. You learn differently from others, so I teach differently than others. Which sounds most like you?
If you need my undivided attention, you’ll love my one-on-one consulting service where we can dive deep into your biz.
If you learn best in a group setting, you’ll have access to bite sized learning, accessibility resources, a community, and so much more! Join Successible for $300 a year (that’s $25 a month!)
Let’s achieve your accessibility goals together!
Want to measure the ROI of your digital accessibility efforts?
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Akari Digital can set up all the data you need so you can experiment with different media formats, optimize the performance of your content, and measure how your efforts are growing your leads and revenue. Then, you can leverage that data to understand exactly where you should invest your time, energy, and money.
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About Erin and Mabely Q
Erin Perkins (she/her)
Founder & CEO
I’m deafblind, though I can still hear with the help of my hearing aid & cochlear implant (without them, I’m profoundly deaf). I can see only 50 degrees… if you’re waving to me, and I don’t wave back…the chances are pretty high that I didn’t see or hear you!
I started Mabely Q under the guise of being an operations manager and graphic designer. It wasn’t until I worked with business owners and mentors that I realized how few actually understood what accessibility was. I pivoted and dove right into accessibility education.
I love that I get to teach businesses how to be accessible by leaning on my life experiences which I share with others to foster true inclusion at all levels, and also teaching in a way that feels good. My mission is to make the world more accessible one business at a time.