How to Convince Upper Management that Web Accessibility is Good for Business
If you're here, you're most likely not only interested in web accessibility and digital inclusion, but you know it's a great opportunity for your business. From SEO to DEI, increased sales, and improved website performance, the benefits are endless.
However, you may be wondering: How do we sell web accessibility to key decision-makers?
It can be difficult to sell internally. Many simply do not recognize their moral and legal obligations. Some people let the costs overshadow the benefits.
What is Web Accessibility and ADA Compliance?
Websites, mobile apps, website widgets, and SaaS are included under this umbrella we'll call "web accessibility". It is the practice of designing and developing digital assets that can be used by anyone, regardless of ability. ADA compliance, as required by Title III of the ADA, is a legal requirement for businesses and organizations to make their websites and apps accessible to people with disabilities. And instead of the Department of Justice's explicit standards, courts, lawyers, and the web community have adopted the "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines" as the de facto standard for ADA compliance. The goal is for the website or digital property to achieve WCAG 2.1 A, AA standards. WCAG 2.2 is supposed to be released later this year. But for now, and for the foreseeable future, WCAG 2.1 will be the target.
Why Should One Consider Web Accessibility and ADA Compliance?
Web accessibility brings great value to everyone involved, from company to consumer. There are many reasons why you should consider web accessibility and ADA compliance, both from an ethical and business perspective.
1. It’s not just the law, it’s the right thing to do.
Internet accessibility is a human right and making websites and apps accessible respects the dignity, equality, and inclusion of people with disabilities and older adults. Getting and staying compliant shows your commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), which is becoming increasingly important to your customers, employees, and stakeholders.
2. It will improve your SEO.
Web accessibility and SEO (search engine optimization) coincide, and many of the best practices for making your website ADA compliant also improve search engine rankings. For example, clear headings, alt text, captions, labels, and semantic markup can help both people with disabilities and search engines better understand your content. By following WCAG standards, you can improve your SEO performance and reach more potential customers you would otherwise be missing.
3. Great user experience and customer satisfaction for everyone.
Web accessibility improves the user experience for everyone, not just those with disabilities. By making your website or app user-friendly, easy to navigate, understand, and interact with, you can improve overall customer satisfaction and loyalty.
4. Effective in increasing customer reach and sales.
This is probably your best tool for management buy-in. Not only are there 61 million people with disabilities in the United States, but there are also 71 million baby boomers with $548 billion in voluntary spending at their disposal. Most everyone will experience the same visual, auditory, cognitive, and fine motor deficits if they live long enough. Baby boomers are our first generation of seniors dealing with the digital world and they are having a difficult time navigating complex web content.
5. Protect your business from the increasing number of accessibility lawsuits.
If you still need more convincing, internet accessibility is not only a moral but also a legal obligation. The number of web-related ADA lawsuits has been increasing year by year. And with over 96% of his websites violating WCAG compliance, trolling plaintiffs and attorneys make easy money by flooding companies with warning letters and state and federal lawsuits. Some may try to say the law is unclear and use this as an excuse for inaction. However, the U.S. Department of Justice has interpreted Title 3 of the ADA to mean that the website is a location of public accommodation, which means that a company or organization must make its website accessible to persons with disabilities. Failure to do so can lead to costly lawsuits, fines, penalties, reputational damage, and loss of customers. By complying with ADA and WCAG standards, you can avoid these risks and costs.
How do you convince management or clients that ADA compliance is a good investment?
Before discussing web accessibility with the key decision makers, be sure to do your research and gather relevant data and evidence to support your claims. For example, you can run accessibility checks on the website or app to identify issues or gaps that need to be addressed. You can also compare your own website or app to that of competitors to see how it compares in terms of accessibility. Search for success stories and case studies of other companies and organizations that have achieved web accessibility and ADA compliance.
It is important to understand the limitations of automated testing tools. In this case, even with AI integration, the software (so far) fails to detect more than 40% of WCAG issues. Therefore, we need qualified accessibility auditors. An expert who knows the nuances of users with all kinds of disabilities, the assistive technologies they use, and WCAG themselves. The results of such an assessment should provide the team with detailed guidelines for property restoration. Once complete, a qualified WCAG auditor must review the remediation work.
When it comes to web accessibility and ADA compliance, a decision maker's priorities and concerns vary depending on their role and department. For example, someone may be interested in financial aspects such as return on investment, cost-benefit analysis, tax credits, etc. Others focus on legal aspects such as risk management, compliance, and litigation. On the other hand, some companies focus on social aspects such as DEI, corporate social responsibility, and customer satisfaction. Tailor your message or claim to your audience's specific interests and goals and use words and terms that your audience can relate to and understand.
You will most likely encounter resistance. Budgetary constraints, technical limitations, or lack of awareness or expertise. Anticipate these potential obstacles and try to address them with solutions or alternatives. As a first step, we recommend that your organization make a corporate policy commitment to support digital inclusion and strive to ensure that all internal and external digital properties are based on WCAG 2.1 AA. This can be very costly and may require a phased approach.
Things to Avoid: Plugins and Overlays
Companies sell plug-ins and overlays and pass them off as shortcuts that use AI magic to incorporate code snippets that make your website ADA compliant overnight. Despite what you might expect, these claims are completely false. If your company decides to just use one of these cheaper web accessibility widgets, instead of becoming compliant the right way, you risk being caught up in a costly lawsuit.
Reach out to us today if you need help making your content accessible and compliant! We specialize in web accessibility. It's not just the law, it's the right thing to do!