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Billions Lost Every Year Due to Website Accessibility Failings

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A staggering 75% of disabled people and their families have reportedly actively chosen to drop or cease trading with a business due to accessibility or customer service issues. This is reputed to cost such affected businesses around $2Bn a month in lost revenue opportunities.

That’s a heavy price to pay by having your head in the sand when it comes to accommodating disabled audiences and consumers.

More than 1 in 5 potential consumers have a disability of some type and according to a recent report by Scope, they have joint spending power estimated at an astonishing $249bn every year!

It’s very clear that this so-called “purple pound” represents significant untapped potential for various commercial enterprises. Indeed any organization seeking to maximise new revenue opportunities should be more than a little considerate of the needs and associated potential in this market demographic.

In the US in particular, there has been a shift in focus from potential revenue losses due to inaccessibility, to more of a punitive stance in the form of discriminatory litigation. Guillermo Robles filed a lawsuit against Domino's in California where he had been unable to order a pizza online because Domino’s website lacked the software that would allow him to communicate. He cited the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) claiming he had been “prevented from full and equal enjoyment of goods and services” by Domino's. Domino's was ruled against by a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2018 holding that the ADA protects access not just to restaurants and stores but also to the websites and apps of those businesses.

The ADA states that:

No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.

Section 301 of Title III, 42 U.S.C. § 12181 (ADA) indicates that this includes businesses in a variety of categories but in particular to this case:

*2 (B) a restaurant, bar, or other establishment serving food or drink and

(E) a bakery, grocery store, clothing store, hardware store, shopping center, or other sales or rental establishment;

In the case of Domino’s, it was held that Title III applied to websites (of Domino’s) as they (the websites) connected customers to physical stores.

In the US this has caused something of a panic with the US Chamber of Commerce and business groups representing 500,000 restaurants and 300,000 businesses, launching a joint appeal for fears of a “tsunami of litigation” due to the “imposition of a nationwide website accessibility mandate.”

And those fears are well-founded.

According to the disability charity Scope, 98% of a million of the most popular websites have home pages that fail accessibility requirements.

It’s a case of effective lock-out according to Joseph R Manning Jr who represented Robles. Manning stated that:

There can be no debate that the blind and visually impaired require accessible websites and mobile apps to function on an equal footing in the modern world.

All of this creates a platform to talk openly about creating accessibility in the online world, yet doing so is not some sort of black art or series of mystical processes.

On the contrary, a great many guidelines and much advice already exist to make the (often small) changes that the 98% of sites tested need in order to be deemed accessible, but more importantly inclusive.

The guidelines are based on simple key concepts that affect disabled users’ experiences when using online resources of any kind.

It is truly a case of walking in their shoes and finding the flaws you might experience if you should find yourself in the same position or physically/mentally affected in the same manner.

In the world of website design, accessibility sometimes means returning to basics but that doesn’t mean returning to boring and lifeless site designs.

No. Returning to basics is about remembering to include ALL types of diverse users from the outset and incorporating these inclusive ideas in all current and future schemes and content.

And just maybe some of the 75% of disaffected disabled users will thank you for it by spending with you. If you or your team don’t know where to start in assessing whether your sites, online stores or resources are inclusive and accessible to disabled users as well as able-bodied, talk to our UX specialist team who can offer you a free Accessibility Audit to help your business towards inclusivity.


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