Would you consciously ignore 14% of the public in your marketing and communications plans?
If your web site (or your business) is not fully accessible to persons with disabilities, both you and they are losing out. There are nearly 4 million persons with disabilities in Canada, or almost 14% of the population, who may not have the ability to easily see, hear, view, visit, interact with or benefit from your web site (or premises).
So why are persons with disabilities sometimes ignored as prospects, customers, leads, partners, or inquirers and why are barriers to their ability to communicate or to access communications not always addressed? Ignorance, lack of familiarity, lack of education and information all contribute to screening from our view those who have a physical or mental difference or to skewing behaviour inappropriately.
In the case of web marketing and communications, the remedies are easy, quick and cheap. First, be aware of where society is going. An Ontario Web Accessibility Report is available at this link (prepared by Lori McCabe, our web development associate at LCM Web Design). Basically the legislation says that all organizations with over 50 employees were to comply by January 1, 2014. Every smaller organization has another 6 years.
Compliance means basic accessibility tactics like writing web content in clear language, providing alternate text for images, or making sure someone can navigate your website with just a keyboard. Further tips are - use strong contrast between text and background, avoid time limits for responses and don’t use blinking pages, do create content that can be presented using assistive technologies (like screen readers). There’s more, but it doesn’t get much harder than that.
Studies show that accessible websites have lower maintenance costs and better search results. You don’t need a study to know that inclusion and diversity are just as important in business as in any other aspect of life.
Go get your webability on now. There’s no benefit to anyone in waiting. Need help – we’re here for that.
1.Statistics Canada. Canadian Survey on Disability 2012: Tables, Table 1.1 Prevalence of disability for adults by sex and age group, Canada, 2012.
Eric Doubt, president and creative director of Communication Associates, is a marketing and communications professional whose volunteer and professional disability experience includes work with Healing Hands for Haiti, Team Canada Healing Hands, and The International Committee of the Red Cross Special Fund for the Disabled, among other non-profit groups and NGOs.