Small business accessibility: What it is and why it matters

by admin

You want to make your products and services accessible to as many customers as possible. Consider any barriers in your storefronts, both physical and online. Prioritize accessibility initiatives.

Continue reading to learn more about business accessibility, and how you can be inclusive and engaging with customers who have disabilities.

What does it mean to be an accessible business?

Accessibility is one way your small business can present itself as welcoming and inclusive to all visitors. An accessible business is more than just a physical and technical infrastructure. It will have uniformity and transparency at its core. These principles may be designed to help people with disabilities but they are also beneficial for everyone.

Accessibility: The four principles

Your storefront and website should be accessible to all.

1. Perceivable

Consider how different consumers might interpret the messages and structure of your company. Keep your branding inclusive and consistent to ensure that it resonates with your diverse audience.

2. Operable

Take into consideration the usability of storefronts. How easy or difficult would it be for people with different abilities to find their way around your business? A small business that is accessible will identify and address its access barriers.

3. Understandable

Your small business should be easy for customers to understand, just as it is easy to navigate. Consider how different audiences might interpret your marketing, storefronts and messaging. You might ask yourself, “What prior knowledge would your customer need to be able to understand the materials of your business?” For maximum accessibility, consider building your brand around that.

4. Robust

Small businesses that are accessible follow the rules set by them. They are not just talking about accessibility, but they also take action. Your small business must continue to support its infrastructure, and keep its accessibility promises.

Is accessibility for business a legal requirement in the UK?

It may be a legal obligation for some to have a better disability access in their business.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that certain businesses make online accommodations for persons with disabilities. According to the act, web-based content must be accessible for blind users, users who are deaf, and users who use screen readers or assistive technology.

The ADA covers businesses that fall into Title I (those that operate at least 20 weeks per year and have 15 employees) or Title III (those that fall in the category of a “public accommodation”).

Do small business websites need to be ADA-compliant?

Yes, simply put. The ADA will cover your virtual storefront if you follow the above guidelines. Digital accessibility is crucial for a seamless website experience.

Digital accessibility measures are designed to support and improve the user experience for people with disabilities. Your website visitors can interact with your content in different ways. The Web Accessibility Guidelines of the ADA suggest that users with visual disabilities use a screen reader, while users with hearing impairments can benefit from closed captions.

Web accessibility benefits for small business

It’s obvious that accessibility on your website is good for consumers and for business. You can achieve the following long-term, big-picture goals by creating an accessible virtual storefront.

  • More customers to reach

Taking initiative to make your brand accessible will usually increase your exposure. Your team should be motivated to break down barriers to reach consumers who would otherwise have difficulty accessing your content.

  • Showing your commitment to all of your customers

Accessible platforms send the message that you are committed to offering quality products and service to consumers of all backgrounds. Accessibility can attract more customers, and over time maintain their loyalty because their needs will be met.

  • Search engine optimization (SEO), a method of improving search engine optimization

You should describe all the visual and audio components of your site to get more people interested in your content. You can do this by adding alternative text or. You can add “alt text” to your images in order to describe them. These steps can help you get your content to appear more often in search results by accommodating users with hearing and visual impairments. Search engines cannot “read” videos and pictures, so written descriptions will also benefit them.

  • New ways to engage your business

The multimedia accessibility features of your website may offer new ways for visitors to interact with it. One visitor may not be able play the video but read along to your closed captions. Your website may be “heard” by another via their screen reader. These new features of your website can help make your content more accessible to a wider range of people.

  • Avoiding fines

A private company can be fined up to $75,000 for a violation of Title III. The fines for subsequent violations can reach up to $150,000. Accessibility infrastructure can be both a benefit to your brand as well as a way of protecting your small business against financial losses.

Accessibility for small businesses: 7 ways to improve it

You can improve the accessibility of your small business by taking these steps.

1. Create a Web Accessibility Statement

Your website visitors should know how committed your company is to inclusivity. A web accessibility statement is the best way to express your commitment. You should discuss the ways in which your company accommodates disabled users.

2. Provide adequate color contrast

It can also improve the readability of your website. This can also produce eye-catching color schemes. Consider polarizing colors if you need to squint in order to distinguish the different shades on your website.

3. Include alt text with all images

Alt text descriptions of images can be a useful alternative for those with vision impairments. These descriptions can also help improve the SEO of your website and increase your image’s visibility in web searches.

Consider what visitors to your website might miss if the image is not visible. Consider describing every image in sufficient detail to help you overcome this potential issue.

4. Include audio and video transcriptions

Users with hearing impairments can access audio and video content on your website by transcribing it. There are few disadvantages to creating new ways for your consumers to interact with your multimedia content. Some visitors will prefer to “read”, rather than watch, your video or audio clips, whether they are hearing impaired or not.

5. Avoid automatic media and navigation

Accessibility is about giving customers control and agency over your website. Your user should be able to choose how they want to browse your content if your website is easy to use, which is one of the four principles for accessibility. This notion is at odds with automatic media and navigation. It is better to let your visitors consume the media on your website at their own pace.

6. Structure your content using headers

All consumers benefit from a preview of the content that website visitors will be reading. If your customer is only interested in one aspect of your company, they can browse your website like a table-of-contents.

7. Content warnings are necessary.

Consider the different ways that seemingly innocuous content can be inaccessible for people with disabilities. You can then consider a warning about flashing images or flagging potentially triggering content. Content warnings that are simple and easily accessible will allow your visitors to decide whether or not they want to interact with a certain piece of content.

What to do next?

Making your small business more accessible is important and sometimes mandatory. However, it can be expensive. Create a budget, and hire professionals if necessary, to meet compliance requirements. SmartBiz (r) can help you find funding for your accessibility initiatives. Find out if your business qualifies for funding*. You could be one step closer towards making your small business accessible, user-friendly and accommodating.

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