The internet was designed to be a tool to better our lives by virtually connecting the world in a way that had never been possible before. However, in the rush to populate the world wide web with compelling content and services, people with disabilities got left behind — and that’s where WCAG comes into play.
Short for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, WCAG essentially describes a set of specific standards that businesses should follow so that the content on their website is accessible to everyone, regardless of whether they have a disability or not. While this of course is one small step in making the world a more inclusive place, it also has an array of benefits for you as a business owner.
Now that we’ve got your attention, let’s take a brief look at the basics of WCAG and why your business should care.
As we mentioned above, WCAG is a set of ground rules that are designed to make sure that websites are accessible to everyone — but where exactly did these rules come from?
While these guidelines were initially introduced in 1999 by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), they did not take center stage until nearly 20 years later after a major lawsuit. In 2019, a blind man sued pizza-giant Domino’s over the site’s lack of accessibility and the supreme court ruled in his favor. They agreed that blind people and those with other disabilities must have access to websites and mobile apps in order to fully and equally participate in today’s modern world.
And in truth, this lawsuit was not the first of its kind, nor will it be the last if businesses continue to ignore WCAG 2.1 requirements. In 2018 alone, more than 2,200 similar suits were filed in federal courts, according to the accessible technology firm UsableNet, which nearly triples the number just a year before.
Needless to say, this is a major wake-up call for businesses everywhere that it is in their best interest to adhere to these guidelines to not only make their brand more inclusive but also to prevent any costly lawsuits.
Need more convincing? Read on to see four benefits of an accessible website design.
Benefits of WCAG for your Business
- Avoid Discrimination and Legal Red Tape
Let’s face it: most businesses aren’t intentionally going out of their way to discriminate against people with disabilities, it’s just not something that naturally crosses your mind if you haven’t been exposed to it. So do yourself and your business a favor by raising your awareness, doing the right thing, and reducing your risk of legal action. It truly is a win-win for everyone.
- Build Positive Public Relations
Believe it or not, building an accessible website can also help you give a positive first impression. In today’s world of inclusivity, a little social responsibility goes a long way.
- Makes the SEO Gods Happy
Google and other search engines essentially read your page the same way a blind person does since they can’t see the content of your images. When you add in accessibility features like alternative text for images, your SEO organically improves because now search engines can actually read it.
- Improved Usability for Everyone = Broader Market Penetration
By implementing WCAG 2.1 compliance features on your site, you will open the door for a whole new market to be able to access your brand. A whopping 57 million people in the US alone have disabilities, so imagine how many views you have been missing out on by making your website only accessible to non-disabled people. If you ask us, it’s time to invest in some WCAG compliance.
Take Care of Business with STAUFFER
Get ahead of the WCAG compliance curve with consulting and technology solutions from STAUFFER that help ensure your content is accessible to everyone.
Not only is WCAG compliance a good thing for transforming the world into a more equitable place, but it will also continue to play a much larger role for businesses as they strive to avoid the risks associated with alienating users.