The connection between the "ordinary" world and the digital world is getting blurry every day. For the most part, these are amazing things that create a new reality, but sometimes this reality also brings the less pleasant sides of it.
As there is a need for disabled people parking spots, ramps, elevators and other means to help people with disabilities reach real places, there is also a need to reach virtual places. This subject, which has been pushed aside for more than 20 years, has excluded a large number of people with disabilities from a variety of sites, portals, services and activities, and is gaining momentum that can lead to real change in the daily conduct of our site as site owners, and our conduct as a society that takes care of its people.
Although it seems that the legislation speaks only of site owners obligations, and speaks explicitly of exposing the business to lawsuits in the event of a violation of the law. It turns out that not everything has to be a “punishment,” and there are quite a few privileges to making websites accessible for disabled people, in addition to the great service you are doing by providing website accessibility.
The most important advantage is granting freedom of action to a very large segment of the population (about 20% in every society) to surf freely on the Internet, which is already something significant that contributes to all sides. Additionally, making your site accessible will help you promote your business and to improve the results and possibilities of promoting the website through the Internet and search engines in particular.
This is not an exaggeration - there is a direct link between site accessibility and success factors such as organic search engine optimization (SEO), return on investment (ROI), and the most important factor - reputation and business branding.
The link between the accessibility of websites to organic site promotion (SEO)
One of the most common disabilities is, of course, impaired vision, which hurts the ability to read the text on the site. Today there are programs (NVDA or JAWS for example), which operate on the principle of screen reading: the programs scan the site in a similar way a regular search engine does and relies on different symbols in the code to decipher and determine the context and structure of the material scanned. Each of the scanners looks for different elements (and there are many overlaps like ALT in images), but the idea itself is very similar - (finding special sections on each web page and understanding each of them deeply.) Therefore, certain accessibility actions you make along with the proper construction of the site will help your site climb higher on the search results rankings.
Additionally, three of the most influential parameters in terms of website ranking by search engines are 1. The site relevance, 2. Users avg. Time on site 3. User experience.
Relevance: If your site sells ski equipment and you appear in the search results for beach hammocks, if that user would enter your website and discover that he can’t find what he was looking for- he will leave immediately. In the same way, if people with disabilities reach your site, and it will not be accessible and adapted to them, they will leave immediately. The leaving Action tells the search engine about a lack of relevance for the user and negatively affects the site's ranking, because whether the site is related to the user's search or not is irrelevant to a person who cannot browse it.
Time on site: derivative of the first section. If the site is not relevant or is not accessible to the disabled person, there is not much to do in it. If your site is not accessible, it is reasonable to assume that a surfer with a disability will not stay there for more than a few seconds, and his next action will be to search for a better or more accessible site (of your competitor) that will answer his needs. On the other hand, if he had reached an accessible site, his time of stay would have increased, which would have had a positive impact on the site's ranking. It is important to remember: This is about 20% of the population, not at all a small number of possible desertions.
User Experience: most of the times an accessible site also indicates a better user experience. When we make changes and make content, information, photos, videos accessible - we help not only those with disabilities to get a better experience from our site but all of our users.
In the end, the formula is very simple - an accessible site = a site with more quality surfers, relevant, and has positive feedback instead of a negative one = higher ranking.
Reputation and business branding
This is a clear advantage for everyone, but it is still important to emphasize it.
Today, thanks to the wonders of technology, there are several solutions for making websites accessible. They are usually combined with an interface that identifies that the site has indeed been adapted for people with disabilities so that it will not be possible to mistake it. A website that has such an accessibility interface has a kind of "quality label" that declares that this is a site and a business that cares about the public. This raises your reputation among the entire population (we will all support those who support the entire population, and unfortunately, many of us know people with disabilities, sometimes even personally, and we would be happy for them to enjoy the same sites as we do).
Your business branding is also an advantage that is directly affected. Even those who belong to the group of disabled people and those who do not would prefer to recommend to their friends a business that supports accessibility. Consequently the number of visitors will increase, and of course branding your business as a business that really cares about others, not in words, but in actions.
The bottom line - they are part of us
We all know at least one person with disabilities, and it does not matter what the level of closeness is. Those with disabilities sometimes need us, and sometimes, even with all the goodwill (and we're talking about a lot of friends who are of great stature and with a will like no other), they still cannot do things that we perceive as basic. When we make our site accessible, we also take care of them, and answer a complementary need, but also answer to ourselves. Think about it for a second - do you really want only a portion of the public to be able to access your site? Probably not. If you were walking down the street and seeing a man in a wheelchair who could not climb the stairs to an office that has no ramp, would you not try to help him? Would you not get angry about it?
The answer is clear, and of course, you would have been happy to help him as much as possible. Today, with a number of relatively simple steps, you can create a precedent and promote your business, not only professionally, but also morally. A good business is a business that makes you smile, and helping others is definitely one of the reasons for it.
In conclusion, the world of accessibility is a world that is gaining momentum in all parameters - technologically, constitutionally and morally. What was not clear at the time, became clearer to us, and we realize that sometimes we too have limitations that prevented us from seeing what we need to - who is in front of us. There is still a long way to go until every site will be completely accessible, and even in the field of technology, not all the ideas have been published yet. There is a lot of work, but also a lot of outcomes. And In this case, a person with a disability who can finally surf as well as anyone else is outcome money can't buy you. What else is there to say? That we will always be on the giving side.