This isn't sexy at all, but someone has to do it as your customers (or maybe even your very own relatives) could be subject to this temporary or even permanently.
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It's not only because of SEO and search bot crawlability: Your potential or current customers could face auditive, visual or physical disabilities; Parkinson's disease for example.
Yes, I am talking about digital and thus online accessibility, WCAG 2.1 to be more precise. There, I said it. I might lose half of you now as most would rather spend time doing conversion rate optimization using other strategies. But bare with me!
This [meeting accessibility guidlines] will have a positive impact on the lives of more than 80 million Europeans with disabilitiesEuropean Union
We just had GDPR to have more privacy compliant websites and webservices. And to be honest, making your website accessible might feel a bit the same. It could cost a lot of time and who really is benefitting?
Affecting my and your quality of life
Besides your potential customers, one day you and I might even be part of the 80 million Europeans, 25.6% Americans or more than one billion people world wide that have a disability. And when it happens, I still want to be able to order toiletpaper, a new smartphone, keyboard online, especially in case of a new virus. But also doing my banking or ordering food online, without having to ask for help on each occasion.
Gains from accessible websites and shops
Let's dive into some more statistics and benefits, as making your website accessible will:
- Open your site up for a powerful consumer base. In a small country such as The Netherlands, it could already be 3.4 million people who would benefit from websites and shops meeting the accessibility guidelines;
- Meanwhile, based on 1 million tests, accessibility of homepages dropped from 2.2% to 1.9%, giving you a head start when it comes to online competition;
- Visitors being self-reliant and independant because of easy to use websites will reduce helpdesk overhead;
- Moreover, it increases happiness amongst visitors. The latter especially is welcome in times such as corona, where you're already more on your own than ever before;
- Improved crawlability and SEO;
- Preventing lawsuits and fines at the same time.
European Accessibility Act
Let's not talk about regulations or acts too much, as this should not be the main reason to make your webshop accessible. It is more important to have the ambition of not excluding people.
Looking at it from a legal perspective: European Accessibility Act enters into force in June 2025 and applies to digital products and solutions such as e-books, e-commerce and banking services. This will effect your business when your organisation has more than 10 employees or an annual turnover exceeding EUR 2 million.
Making a change in web accessibility
Ever since building semantic HTML (no, this isn't something new) per 2005, I am keen on making the online world more accessible. Easily said for someone with a background in web accessibility, but if I am able to influence other developers or give a better understanding of more specific accessibility cases, then it will be worth the prior and upcoming accessibility posts.
Dutch week of accessibility
Although the Global Accessibility Awareness Day is marked annually on the third Thursday of May, we have a Dutch week of accessibility each year as well, around this very period. This time, it specifically is about digital accessibility, although it is up to organizers to fill in their program.
How I will be doing my web accessibility part
What I will be doing during this Dutch Accessibility week from Monday October 5th until Friday 9th:
- I will be publishing accessibility instead of pagespeed posts;
- I will be doing this on my site as well as via LinkedIn profile to increase awareness.
Head start with web accessibility via your mobile navigation
A whopping 34% of screenreader respondants think the lack of web accessibility skills or knowledge at developers end is the reason for inaccessible websites. Let's prove them wrong and help them with a better online experience instead!