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How to Demonstrate Value from Web Accessibility Audits

  • Published on: May 7, 2024
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  • Updated on: May 20, 2024
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  • Reading Time: 5 mins
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Today, web accessibility is not just a buzzword, but a critical component of digital design and user experience. Yet within many organizations, there appears to be a constant tussle between people who champion accessibility and those who see it as an added cost. More often than not, the former far outnumber the latter. Due to the fact that financially-driven business objectives have always taken precedence over social responsibility. As a result, accessibility initiatives rarely get off the ground, failing to reach even the initial web accessibility audit stage.

Accessibility should be implemented because it’s the right thing to do. Access to information and participation in society within digital social experiences is a fundamental right. Digital experiences should not exclude any group of individuals. Inclusion matters and can leave a lasting impact on your users. But, if the ethical responsibility does not resonate with your stakeholders there are a myriad of other reasons that you could use to build a business case

But, what if we told you that there’s a strong business case to be made for web accessibility, which presents both tangible and intangible benefits for the organization?

 A diverse group of seven professionals engaged in a meeting around a table in a modern office with laptops discussing a web accessibility audit.

For starters, it is an investment that pays off through improved customer experience and enhanced business reputation. Moreover, embracing digital accessibility also safeguards the business against potential lawsuits which have soared rapidly in recent years. But merely mentioning these advantages — and many others — isn’t enough to get the nod for a web accessibility audit.

To really make the business case for web accessibility to key stakeholders, accessibility champions need to present a mix of tangible and motivational factors that drive businesses. In this article, we will aim to bridge the gap by providing practical guidance on how to initiate accessibility efforts and demonstrate return on investments.

 

Establishing a business case for web accessibility audit

An effective business case focuses on the organization’s objectives and values. A customized business case for an edtech developer will focus on several social, technical, financial, and legal policy factors.

Legal Factors

Educational institutions are required to make their digital content accessible under Title 2 and Title 3 of the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The business case can list these laws that the organization is required to comply with.

Financial Factors

When focussing on financial factors, the business case can highlight the potential legal cost of defending a lawsuit on web accessibility. Additionally, accessibility guidelines can also help decrease the cost of translating a website into other languages. It increases usability. For example, the WCAG 2.0 success criteria 1.1.1 among other checkpoints, focuses on web accessibility in case of low internet bandwidth. Similarly, WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria 1.3.1 and 2.4.10 focus on dividing blocks of information into groups for better understanding.  Moreover, accessibility techniques increase the findability for SEO both internally within a website and externally. All these factors expand the potential use of the website by more people thus benefiting the organization directly and indirectly.

Technical Factors

Integrating the technical factors depends on whether the organization is starting a new website or redesigning an existing website. For starters, incorporating accessibility early in the project can make the task significantly easier and less expensive. Multiple accessibility checkpoints focus on improving the technical ability of the website by facilitating efficient debugging, reducing development and maintenance time, decreasing bandwidth and server load, and enabling content on different configurations among other aspects. In today’s rapidly advancing edtech scenario, web accessibility provides a special case by allowing organizations to take advantage of advanced web technologies and sets the stage for the integration of future web technologies.

Social Factors

For social responsibility consideration, an edtech developer must emphasize the benefits of web accessibility for learners with different learning styles and educational settings. It addresses the digital divide issues among students and effectively makes the case for inclusive learning.

These factors can serve as powerful tools to make your business case for web accessibility and ensure the onboarding of all stakeholders. Crafting a business case is undoubtedly crucial but it’s just the initial stride in the journey towards web accessibility. As organizations delve deeper into the auditing and resolution process, they encounter a myriad of complexities that demand attention.

 

Building a Dynamic Accessibility Team

The first step in driving web accessibility initiatives is to form a dedicated team of accessibility professionals. This team should consist of individuals passionate about web accessibility and equipped with the necessary resources. A team leader can then clearly define roles and responsibilities to ensure accountability and establish communication channels to facilitate collaboration between departments.

Organizing the employees for accessibility ensures a framework that is structured, efficient, and effective. It is necessary to ensure consistency in efforts and demonstrate commitment to internal and external stakeholders. A dedicated team sets the stage for embedding accessibility in the organization’s culture in the long run. Besides, nurturing an in-house team also supports the organization’s accessibility efforts where developers can fix issues themselves without overreliance on outside expertise.

A woman wearing headphones using a desktop computer focused on working on a web accessibility audit at her desk in a busy office environment.

 

Before and After: Navigating Web Accessibility Audit Process

How to get the auditing process started?

Before diving into the audit, organizations must take stock of the current accessibility standards and guidelines. The WCAG is divided into three levels of conformance: Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA. Level AA represents the standard accessibility goals for most organizations to comply with ADA conformance requirements.

When it comes to testing, the W3C recommends a combination of automated and manual tools for effective outcomes. This is because automated technology might not identify the WCAG issues that require human intelligence and judgment.

Lastly, organizations must determine the scope and objective of the audit to establish timelines and track progress effectively. The scope of the audit also becomes the basis for cost determination of several components including testing, remediation, remediation reporting, and regular accessibility maintenance.

How to measure returns from web accessibility audits?

Measuring the returns from web accessibility is a crucial step in providing insights to stakeholders. It effectively demonstrates the results of the audit and fosters a culture of accessibility in the organization.

The process starts with identifying the key metrics that align with your target audience and organizational objectives. These could include metrics like website traffic, bounce rate, conversion rate, brand sentiment, etc. Similarly, positive feedback from users with disabilities regarding the usability and accessibility of the website can also indicate positive ROI. By compiling these findings in a comprehensive report, stakeholders can be made cognizant of the immediate and long-term returns of creating accessible websites.

Communicating the value of web accessibility can be overwhelming at times. However, web accessibility is essential if you do not wish to get trapped in lawsuits in the future. Is your website compliant with ADA and Section 508? Or are you looking for web accessibility guidance? At MagicEdtech we provide full-stack web accessibility services including audits, testing, design, and remediation to drive compliance with WCAG, EN 301549, Section 508, EAA, and more.

 

FAQs

Web accessibility ensures that websites and digital content are usable by people with disabilities. It's crucial because it promotes inclusivity and ensures equal access to information and services for all users.

Investing in web accessibility leads to improved user experience, enhanced business reputation, increased customer satisfaction, and can even mitigate legal risks associated with non-compliance.

By highlighting the tangible benefits such as improved user experience, reduced legal risks, and potential business advantages, stakeholders can understand how web accessibility aligns with organizational goals and values.

Non-compliance with web accessibility standards can result in lawsuits and legal penalties, especially for organizations operating in jurisdictions with strict accessibility regulations such as the ADA and Section 508.

Initiating web accessibility efforts involves forming a dedicated team, defining roles and responsibilities, establishing communication channels, and fostering a culture of accessibility within the organization.

A business case for a web accessibility audit should consider legal requirements, financial implications, technical feasibility, and social responsibility aspects to effectively demonstrate the value and importance of accessibility to stakeholders.

WCAG conformance levels include Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA. Most organizations aim for Level AA conformance as it represents standard accessibility goals and compliance with ADA requirements.

Returns from a web accessibility audit can be measured through metrics such as website traffic, bounce rate, conversion rate, user feedback, and compliance with accessibility standards. These metrics provide insights into the impact and effectiveness of accessibility efforts.

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