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5 misconceptions of content accessibility

By
James Barber
Many people still have misconceptions about accessibility. Find out how to fix these so you can prioritise accessibility in your organisation.

What ideas do you already have about content accessibility? With so much misinformation, people are still unsure about what it is. But what does content accessibility mean in practice? And what is the potential impact it will have on your business?

According to WebAim’s 2022 report on the accessibility of the top 1,000,000 home pages, 96% of websites still fail basic accessibility audits.

With the right training, we all can create accessible content. So, maybe it’s time to remove the restrictions and challenge the most common misconceptions, one by one.

Content accessibility is not essential

Did you know that the accessibility of UK websites is covered by the Equality Act 2010? It includes apps and documents too, like PDFs. This means content accessibility is not optional. And actually having an inaccessible website can be discrimination.

Site owners must make reasonable adjustments to make digital products and services accessible. This usually means meeting the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1.

UK Law and digital accessibility

Some businesses follow the Equality Act 2010 from a fear of getting sued. Of course, no business wants to get sued. But the motivation should be a genuine desire to offer accessible services.

Accessibility only helps disabled people

A common misconception is that accessibility only helps disabled people. When you design a website that is accessible, it benefits everyone.

For example, when you don’t have your headphones and you want to watch a video in a public space. Without captions, the video is not accessible to you without playing the audio out loud. So having video captions benefits everyone. Not just those with a hearing impairment.

By applying accessibility best practices, you will improve your customer experience for everyone. It will make your website easier to use and navigate.

Accessibility can only be done by an expert

People often assume only experts can make a website accessible. But anyone can learn how to create accessible content.

There are technical website elements that you may need expertise for. But really any developer working on your site should know how to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) criteria. As we’ve mentioned already, accessibility is a legal requirement.

If you have in-house developers, upskilling in WCAG is a great development opportunity. If you use an agency, meeting WCAG criteria should be a requirement of their work.

For content, there are lots of best practices that everyone can start using in daily work. From plain English to image alt-text. It can be low cost and it benefits disabled customers and colleagues. It also gives everyone the chance to upskill and be confident with accessibility. And this can help you create a culture where accessibility is the norm.

Here are 7 easy ways to make your content more accessible. If you want to learn more about these topics or upskill in accessibility, Scope also offers training.

1-day content accessibility training course

Accessibility is something you fix once or do before releasing a new product

Accessibility is an ongoing process. Doing it at the end of a project is often more time-consuming and costly.

It’s also not something you fix once and forever be accessible. Often different teams need to know about accessibility. It needs to be integrated into your daily working practices. Embedded in your guidelines. This will help make sure you meet the global accessibility standards. But it will also help you continue to improve the accessibility of your content.

It’s also important to take the time to understand the needs of your disabled customers. How they access your products. The barriers they experience. How you might remove those barriers. There will be barriers not covered by the legal standards. So researching and testing with disabled people helps improve the accessibility further.

Now, this might seem like a lot of work. But if you build accessibility into processes, planning and culture, it’s less work long-term. Also making accessibility everyone’s responsibility means sharing the work across your business.

Making my website accessible won’t help my business

Content accessibility not only improves engagement but also keeps your customer’s interest. Disabled customers are also loyal to businesses that are accessible to them.

The spending power of disabled people is an estimated £274 billion per year to UK businesses. So, creating a website that is accessible can help to bring more income. And it’s good for business.

Purple Pound research

Not being accessible means that you can actually lose business. 7 in 10 disabled customers say that they will click away from a website they find difficult to use. The ‘click-away pound’ was valued at £17.1 billion to UK businesses.

So, being inaccessible not only excludes disabled people but it can also cost you.

Click-Away Pound surveys

Every person deserves the right to use your website without barriers. There is more to be gained from being accessible. And will benefit both you and everyone who visits your website.

With that in mind, perhaps it’s time to challenge these misconceptions. It’s time to start prioritising accessibility.

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