It’s evident that numerous websites remain inaccessible (98% according to ISE – ICT Solutions and Education), even though more and more individuals recognise that accessibility is the ‘right thing to do.’ However, the problem may be that for those individuals who have not yet addressed the issue of accessibility, the ‘right thing to do’ is just not a compelling enough argument. They want to know the answer to questions such as: Is an inaccessible website bad for business?   Does it influence my website’s traffic? Is accessibility a legal requirement? How does it impact the perception of my brand?’ In this article, I answer these questions and list the many drawbacks of having an inaccessible website.

Inaccessible websites exclude disabled people

Number one, is, of course, the fact that an inaccessible excludes disabled people from content or services. I.e., people with cognitive impairments, people who are blind or have visual impairments, people with hearing impairments and people with motor impairments.

In January 2022, the UK government estimated that there are around 14.1 million disabled people in the UK. That’s roughly 22% of the UK population. That’s a lot of people you are potentially excluding.

Disabled people need and want the same information and services that non-disabled people want. And they don’t want to be marginalised or have a harder time getting it. Excluding disabled people from content and services excludes them from participating as normal citizens. The world is now online, disabled people are online. They have a right to use the same services and access the same content as everyone else.

It is illegal to discriminate against disabled people

And that brings up my next point. If your content is inaccessible to disabled people you are breaking the law. In the UK that’s the Equality Act 2010 or if you are in the public sector it is Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

The Equality Act 2010 tells us that we are not allowed to discriminate against disabled people and must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure that disabled people have equal access to services. That includes websites. So if your website is inaccessible you are vulnerable to litigation and complaints. These are actions that could result in negative publicity for your business or organisation. Advocacy groups, organisations, or individuals making complaints will negatively impact your brand and the success of your business or organisation.

An inaccessible website is bad for your brand

If you are excluding disabled people from your content that will reflect poorly on your brand values and can damage your reputation. You risk appearing not to care about inclusivity or to be catering for a diverse audience. A strong brand implies trust and credibility with users and customers: lose those values at your peril.

You are reducing the size of your potential audience

Disabled people represent a considerable proportion of the population. An inaccessible website limits your audience’s reach and potential engagement with that audience. That means a potential loss of business or a lower percentage of visitors from your target group. And that means fewer sales, fewer conversions, fewer partnership opportunities – fewer interactions with those you are aiming to attract. And of course, it also means those people are missing out on the value they would get from your content or your service.

An accessible website helps your SEO score

‘Userway’ has an article on their website called ‘SEO and Accessibility Go Hand in Hand’ in which they indicate that the main attributes of an accessible website are those that are attractive to search engines such as Google – and thus help website with the search engine ranking.

“it only makes sense to consider accessibility and SEO together. In fact, there’s so much overlap between these two disciplines it’s becoming difficult to talk about one without the other.”

Inaccessible websites can damage your business and your reputation

So, the downside to having an inaccessible website goes beyond legal compliance, it affects your brand reputation, visitor experience, website traffic and your business/organisation.

How to make your website more accessible

As I’ve outlined above, prioritising accessibility in web design is essential for fostering inclusivity, compliance, and a positive user experience. If you are in the position of still having an inaccessible website and want to know how you get from where you are to where you want to be, i.e., having a website that is accessible, what is the first step?

The simplest step, if you don’t want to commission an entirely new site, is to get your website tested to find the accessibility issues, so that they can be fixed.

I am happy to talk to you about whether an accessibility audit is appropriate for your organisation/business and if so, how to get started. An accessible website is good for your business/organisation, get in touch.

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You will learn both the techniques of accessible website design and an entire ‘framework for thinking about the subject’. It will equip you with the skills to understand, identify and fix issues any accessibility issues you come across. Watch the free videos to get a taste of what is on the course. Video image from Web Accessibility Online Training Course - WCAG 2.1 Compliance
Checking you website traffic after making it accessible

Working with non-profits, charities, voluntary and public sector organisations and social enterprises for over 20 years. Jim set up one of the worlds first website accessibility web agencies in the mid 1990s.