Digital Accessibility is Not Just a Compliance Imperative, It's Also a Business One
4/22/2021 Vijay Ganesh Venkataraman
In 2020, more than 3,500 digital accessibility lawsuits were filed in the US alone, according to UsableNet’s “2020 Full Year Report: Digital Accessibility Lawsuits.” With each case estimated to cost almost $10,000 (per TNW), the cost of non-compliance with standards and laws like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can be higher than the cost of compliance.
If market estimates are anything to go by, digital accessibility will be critical to not just ensure compliance, but also ensure business viability. Remediation can enable businesses that initially overlooked accessibility to redesign their important documents so they may close their accessibility debt. In doing so, this will positively expand their business among people with sight, cognitive, and other disorders.
Why prioritize remediation in your go-to-market strategy?
People across all demographics and abilities have increased their reliance on the Internet over the last year. It has been a period of great change, great adaptation, and there is no time like now for brands to show empathy.
For U.S. marketers, “improve accessibility” has become their second most important customer engagement priority for 2021 — right behind “establish more meaningful connections with customers”— according to a recent marketing survey from Mitto. Conveniently enough, remediation can address both.
When brands make their documents and websites accessible, they can ensure that every single customer has full access to their digital resources. This is a critical move because Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) not only make up a significant portion of the customer base for most businesses, they are also an influential customer group who are emotionally connected to over 70% of consumers, according to Return On Disability’s “2020 Annual Report.”
Besides the business case, there is the issue of culture. Specifically, the elements of diversity and inclusion have gained a good deal of well-deserved attention in 2021. The distributed workforce model makes diversity easier to achieve, but before they can expand their resource pool, companies need to make sure that their websites, forms, and documents are accessible to PwDs. Naturally, it’s in a brand’s best interest to be proactive in this area and move towards full accessibility.
What holistic remediation should look like, at scale
An unintended consequence of the focus on minimizing legal risks is moving "user experiences" down the list of priorities. There is a real risk of companies treating accessibility or remediation as an item on a checklist instead of a means to enhance the customer experience. Another challenge is the lack of a robust ecosystem; one composed of people, processes, and technology to help businesses in their accessibility journey, right from inception to rollout.
While there are several remediation players in the market, not everyone has the right mix of solutions, innovation, and resources to remediate at scale.
In your search for the right remediation partner, seek out a provider who shows experience in effectively combining machine learning and human intelligence. Ensuring a human expert is in the workflow loop can be the secret sauce for succeeding with a remote workforce in a post-COVID marketplace. It will also ensure attention is paid to every detail as your business remediates any volume of inaccessible documents.
Vijay Ganesh Venkataraman is Director of Solution Development for RRD GO Creative.