Why Accessibility

“There are two very good reasons why your client should start to think about Web accessibility: An accessible website will give your client money and An accessible website will save your client money. Now, if that doesn’t get his attention, I don’t know what will.” – Trenton Moss (www.sitepoint.com)

Aside from gaining more persons to view your site, what else can you profit from re-designing your site into an accessible one? Here are some of the advantages on the business side: [24] [25] [26]

1. It reduces website maintenance costs.

If you include accessibility in your site, you can reduce the costs of maintaining it. It will be better organized, simpler, cleaner coding and content make pages easier for designers, developers and content authors to work with and maintain. An accessible website separates the content (words and images that we see on the screen) and presentation (the way these words and images are laid out) of each page. This is due to efficient and effective use of technology such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) that reduces time to download graphics.

2. It can be easily converted to conform with other devices.

In the not so distant future, the use of mobile phones, personal device assistants and in-car browsers will all be regularly used to access the Internet. People who can afford to use these new technologies come from the high-income groups. If you want to get a market share of these groups, you’ll need a website that can work on most of these machines. With accessible websites, converting them to other technologies will be much easier.

3. Your website will be faster and more comfortable to use.

An HTML file that is lower than 100 kb can appear in your PC faster. A faster download time would mean more time spent in viewing your website. Many of your site visitors will be clicking away and you will lose a potential customer if your website takes much longer than ten seconds to download.

WebTV, mobile phones and PDAs have limited support for large files like images and Flash animations. Imagine the number of web users that you have alienated if you use those files.

If a person can navigate to your site easily and find useful information faster, then, they would be satisfied. A satisfied customer means an increased traffic to your site. More customers mean good business.

4. It will be compatible with any standards.

You won’t have any doubts whether your site appears properly in any type of browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Netscape or Opera) or with any screen resolution (800 x 600, 1024 x 768 or 1280 x 1024). It can also be opened in almost any operating system platform (Windows, Mac or Linux) with fewer problems. Your text can also be read using standard fonts (arial, verdana or times).

If your site is not compatible with other available browsers or platform, then you might lose valuable customers.

5. Your website will appear higher on search engines.

The application of accessible coding methods to site design does not hinder a search engine’s perception of your site. In many cases, it greatly improves access to your content. The implementation of accessibility techniques might just give you a better chance to gain higher search engine page rankings and, in turn, attract more visitors.

Another thing, if your markup codes are cleaner, it is more accessible to search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing.

Search engines most likely don’t understand images, JavaScript, Flash, audio and video files. By giving alternative content to each of these, search engines will understand your site better.

So, the more accessible your site is to search engines, the more confidently they can guess what the site is about. It gives your site a better chance at the top spot in the search engine rankings.

6. Disabled people have spending powers.

Just because they are disabled, it doesn’t mean that they are poor! On the contrary, disabled people especially the senior citizens and those under government or private welfare have a lot of money to spend.

Most people run a business to make money. Their website is an important tool for their business activities.

Disabled people probably benefit from the Internet more than anyone else. If blind people want to go shopping at a supermarket, they have to inform the supermarket of their arrival by phone and when they get there, they have to be accompanied around the store by available service crews. An accessible website will make it possible for them to do their shopping at home and in their own time. Imagine how much comfort that would be for them.

7. Your website can meet international legal requirements.

The “Biwako Millennium Framework for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific” was drafted in 2001 under the supervision of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP) with which the Philippines is one of the signatories. [28] All provisions within the framework were already adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 6, 2006 and is already an international law. The treaty is called the “Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons
with Disabilities”. [29] Part of the framework is the access to information and communications technology.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is also an international body tasked to develop guidelines to enhance the functionality and universality of the web. It validates websites and checks if it complies with international standards.

Imagine if your website has already complied with international laws and standards, it will enhance its appeal to other countries and not just in the Philippines.

8. You will gain good publicity.

You can be proud that your site is accessible to everyone. You will also bring positive atmosphere to your business by opening your website not just for the able-bodied but also for persons with disabilities.

9. It’s the right thing to do.

Even if disabled people don’t go out to the streets bearing placards demanding for equal rights to access information through the Internet, we still have to do what is right. If you always do things right, then it becomes a very good habit.

By making your website accessible to disabled and other marginalized people, you will more than likely benefit through increased business.