Website accessibility is usually (at least in the UK) seen as an optional, and often expensive, add-on that website owners think doesn’t apply to them because they don’t supply products or services to the “disabled” community.
The official WCAG definition of web accessibility is making sure that “websites and web tools are properly designed and coded, [so that] people with disabilities can use them”, but I would strongly argue that accessibility is actually about making your website easier to use for EVERYONE – it’s about making it fully inclusive.
Accessibility improvements will make the site better for anyone who has a physical, mental or situational impairment. Note that I say impairment, not disability. Now think about exactly the kind of people this covers and tell me in the comments if you can, hand on heart, say that none of your potential customers will fall into these groups:
- People who need glasses or contact lenses to see text clearly at a given distance.
- People who’ve lost those glasses.
- Those whose hearing isn’t 100%.
- Anyone with a cognitive impairment such as dementia, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder or dyslexia.
- People with a tremor – not just those with a disease such as Parkinson’s, but also people who are born with an essential tremor.
- Anyone who doesn’t have full motor control over a hand or arm, from those with a broken wrist through to people with cerebral palsy.
- Commuters who can’t listen to sound on a packed train.
If you design your website so that it can only be used by anyone NOT in these groups, what does that do to your customer base? But if you design it so that it can be used by people who have the most severe impairments and/or who need to use assistive technologies, just think about how many of the “normal” people listed above will suddenly be happy to find a website that they can comfortably use.
It’s not rocket science. It’s common sense.