Why is Accessibility Important to Your Business?

Learn how to tap in to a $25 billion dollar market. Why is accessibility important..or even necessary to your business?

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Image of stop gap ramps in front of stores

The image above is from a great organization in Toronto called StopGap Foundation. They partner with communities and stores to promote accessibility while making their own stores more accessible.

I encourage you to understand accessibility as Universal Design which “refers to broad-spectrum ideas meant to produce buildings, products and environments that are inherently accessible to older people, people without disabilities, and people with disabilities” (Wikipedia). Keep in mind that Universal Design applies to people without disabilities as well. Think about how often you press the automatic door opener button. The elevator that takes you to the 20th floor (thank goodness you don’t have to walk up twenty flights). The moving walkway at Wal Mart that carries your shopping cart to the upper floor. All the signage at the airport that directs you to your gate. These are all examples of accessibility that also helps EVERYONE = Universal Design.

So consider, if you make your own business, site or app more accessible, who knows how many others would take advantage of the assistance. For example, when I see a Live Chat button on a site, I’m grateful for it because my hearing isn’t the best so I can’t hear well on the phone but now I can communicate directly with the company via a messaging system.

And yes I am a potential customer because I have an income and I love to shop 🙂

In 2001 Ontario released a report stating that Canadians with disabilities control an estimated of $25 billion dollars in consumer spending. You still don’t want to tap in to that market? Well if you do, here are some tips you can start with to increase the accessibility of your business:

  • All Customer Service staff should be trained on how to interact and communicate with persons with various disabilities
  • Choose a few “Accessibility Champions” that are trained on how to create Accessible PDFs for your white papers, e-books and other online content
  • ALWAYS include an Alt Text in every image you upload, even in WordPress this is easy to do, upload image, on the right hand corner of the image click the edit symbol and add a description of the image under “Alt Text”
  • Model Accessibility within your own company, hire people with disabilities that can offer advice on making your business accessible, make sure you have an accommodation plan in place for employees with disabilities
  • Ensure your website complies with WCAG 2.0 (This link takes you to WCAG standards)
  • Use plain language in your content when Tweeting, on Facebook, Instagram etc (Guide to Using Plain Language) Using plain language ensures that people with reading difficulties, people with variety of intelligence and people who are not native English speakers can interpret and understand your content

In my next post I will dissect and summarize the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) and provide a download of my AODA notes. I encourage you to follow my blog by subscribing (to the left) for my next post 🙂 Leave a comment if you have any suggestions to add to this list!

 

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