The business case for making our digital services accessible

It’s fair to say that technology is woven into the fabric of our day-to-day lives. It’s almost impossible to spend a day without performing at least one Google search or browsing for your Tesco shopping. We no longer see technology as a “nice to have” asset to connect with like-minded individuals or play video games.

To many, technology (especially the world wide web) is now required to meet basic everyday  needs. It’s another form of oxygen. Imagine how it would feel if the internet was taken down for a whole day. It’s like being cut off from the world itself – very lonely. 

To many individuals with accessibility needs, the feeling of being cut off from the world is all too familiar. You see, not all digital products are designed with accessibility in mind. A person with motor limitations, for instance, may not be able to use a mouse. If a website does not allow for alternative navigation, that person is suddenly excluded from using the service.

How would it feel to be refused access based on being you and not someone who is part of the most represented demographic? It’s like being told it’s wrong to be an individual – and that hurts.

Accessibility seeks to remove these usability barriers so everyone can get the best experience out of technology – no matter who you are or how you interact with the world. Accessibility is a must for some and a benefit for others. Either way, everyone is a clear winner. 

What’s more, making technology accessibility compliant can lead to substantial business growth – with the right investment and stakeholder commitment. Let’s take a moment to explore why.

Accessibility for business growth

The primary objective of many businesses is to make money and expand in size. Money is made from customers connecting with the business and subsequently choosing to purchase products and services.

One of the key drivers for customer purchases is user experience. How a customer feels about the business and services on offer plays a significant role. Guess what? Online portals are going to have a big say in that. As pointed out earlier, more and more customers turn to the web to make significant purchases. Thus, having a website or mobile app that enables the customer to truly connect with the business is a must.  

Let’s look at an example. If a user is browsing a website and becomes increasingly frustrated due to a poorly designed user interface, he or she is likely to go elsewhere.  

Alternatively, if users are presented with a clean, intuitive, easy-to-use page, they are more likely to keep browsing. This could translate into purchasing products or even recommending them to others.

Accessible Services = Increased User Engagement = Business Growth

It’s also worth pointing out that users with accessibility needs make up a significant share of the market. The World Bank estimates that 15% of the global population lives with a disability — that’s over 1 billion people[1]. Then there’s a large section of the market that comprises older people with some declines in physical and cognitive abilities.

Users with temporary injuries may also require accessible services. Suddenly, we are now presented with the lion’s share of the market — waiting for new business investment.

Accessibility for legal compliance

Yes, there are legal requirements for making digital services accessible. Depending on your country of residence, there may be specific laws stating that digital services must adhere to accessibility standards. The UK introduced accessibility regulations in 2018 for all public sector bodies. Failing to comply with these laws carries hefty consequences – resulting in fines and, of course, damages to brand reputation.

However, to create a compelling business case and win stakeholder buy-in, it’s imperative that accessibility is not seen as a routine “box ticking” exercise required to abide by the law. The reality is that accessibility can be a significant driver for business growth.

How accessibility is pitched to stakeholders could be the difference between squeezing checks at the very end of a project rather than embedding them throughout the project lifecycle – start to finish.

In summary

To recap, the key business drivers for investing in accessibility and digital inclusion are:

  • Better user experience that leads to increased user engagement and more business
  • Opportunities to tap into a large and diverse market
  • Legal compliance

More and more businesses are now seeing accessibility for what it is: A brand enhancer and an opportunity to shape their services around the customer — you — no matter who you are or how you interact with the world.