Website Accessibility – Social and Business Profitability

15/11/2010
 
 
Website Accessibility – Social and Business Profitability (Enlarge)

By: Alon Zakai, A-2-Z, Internet Marketing

Translated by: Keren Isaacs
 
I am glad that recently we have been hearing more and more about companies and organizations who are interested in providing accessibility to their website.
Here, in short and simple words I will talk about Website Accessibility, the connection between site accessibility, site marketing and website promoting in Google.

So, what is website accessibility?
Web accessibility allows disabled people and the elderly to navigate in the Internet with the same efficiency and pleasure as all users. As it is obvious today that every new house, restaurant or business needs to have a comfortable ramp for a wheel chair, the same must be for websites, to make it possible for disabled people to surf the internet like everyone else.

Who needs it?
Here are a few examples:

Blind people:
- Cannot control a mouse, they must have full support for the keyboard
- Cannot enjoy images, photographs or any other graphical material
- Cannot see underlines or colors

Not blind but visually impaired:
- Difficulty in distinguishing between background and content
- Cannot read fonts that are too small

Motor impairments:
- Inability to use the mouse
- Inability to use the keyboard

Hearing impairments:
- Cannot enjoy sounds or voices

Elderly:
They are not defined as people with disabilities, but in fact some of them suffer from the disabilities mentioned above.

How many are there?
There are 4 main groups with internet surfing disabilities:
1. Visual
2. Auditory
3. Motor
4. Cognitive
One out of 5 people fall into at least one of these groups!

According to Microsoft's research:
37% of the population has moderate disabilities, and another 25% have severe disabilities of all kinds. In other words, we're talking about a market segment of at least a quarter of the population (if not much more!) that will benefit from accessible technology.

What can be done to provide accessibility for websites?
Here are several examples:
- Full support for the keyboard and the mouse
- Add textual phrases anywhere there are pictures or graphic elements
- Allow change in font size
- Allow change in the contrast between background and content
- Allow the user to choose theme font, text color and background color
- Provide homogenous and clear navigation
- Make sure that there is constant hierarchy in the headings and the subheadings
- Add lyrics to a text transmitted by audio
- Add subtitles to videos

What does the law state?
The main law that deals with these matters is "The Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Law". It's purpose is to protect the right for egalitarian and independent participation in all areas of society. The legislature has defined the need for subsidiary legislation (regulations) to make the general definitions applicable. In our matter, the relevant regulations are in the area of accessibility service. The regulations draft is currently on the Knesset desk and still not valid.

- In my opinion, the first stage will be -
Providing accessibility to government sites and local authorities, and companies who provide services to the public, such as banks, insurance companies, cellular companies, hospitals and Kupat Cholim.

Why do we need it, anyway?
It is obvious why the disabled who use the internet need it. But also, the companies and the sites owners require it.

Here are some good reasons:
- As mentioned above there are laws and regulations that will soon become valid.
- The social commitment on the matter is becoming more and more clear.
- Beyond the social commitment and the law, it will increase business profitability, by increasing the business exposure to the target audience by at least 25%.
In addition, there is a very good connection between internet marketing and website accessibility.

There are two very important areas in internet marketing:
- Website promotion / website promotion in Google
- Usefulness / internet surfing experience / improving the website

Most of the accessibility actions are compatible with those two areas!

Meaning, in the matter of website promotion, many of the accessibility parameters are coincident to the parameters that are required to Google website promotion. It's the same with the internet surfing experience - accessibility parameters improve the internet surfing experience to all users. Those two areas improve the users' performance and the business results in the website.

It is very gratifying to see that leading companies such as Google and Microsoft support promoting web accessibility.
Google - parameters coincident between improving accessibility and Google algorithms for ranking sites.
Microsoft - adding tools and features in their products (like Microsoft Word) that improve accessibility.

For Further Information

Israel Internet Association in collaboration with Access Israel http://www.nagish.org.il/
Contact Us - Organization Access Israel Site http://www.aisrael.org/
And you can also contact us - we will be happy to share our knowledge and our professional experience

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