When your online experiences aren’t accessible, you shrink your recruiting reach – and the diversity inside your company – by 15%.
Over 1 billion people around the world have some form of disability, according to The World Bank. That’s 15% of the global population. If you don’t happen to be part of that 15%, you probably haven’t thought much about accessibility. Until now.
As we enter a new decade, we’re seeing accessibility move closer and closer to a tipping point. Digital natives are gaining influence, and voices on social media are louder than ever. On top of that, diversity has evolved from a conversation to a full blown revolution.
These things have converged and are all directing out attention to the issue of accessibility. Frankly, it doesn’t make business sense to ignore it any longer.
According to a recent poll, 30% of HR leaders said they’re making accessibility improvements. Forty-one percent said “I know it’s important and want to learn more,” and 28% said “Eager to make improvements, just need budget and a plan.”
If you haven’t started on your accessibility journey, you’re not alone. But, that’s no excuse to throw it on the back burner. Here are 3 reasons why you should make accessibility a priority in 2020:
1. Legislation is coming.
Remember GDPR? When GDPR became law in the EU, companies all over the world went frantic. One day the switch was flipped, and if you hadn’t been proactive about it, you were suddenly out of compliance with data privacy laws effecting a major chunk of the globe. It can happen that fast, or at least it seems fast when you don’t see it coming.
So here it is. We’re telling you now. Accessibility is following the same trajectory as GDPR, and it won’t be long until we see suggestions and guidelines turn into laws.
2. Accessibility shows you care.
At this point, you have to ask yourself, What kind of business do I want to be? What kind of culture do I want to create? Choosing not to be accessible sends a message that diversity isn’t important enough to take action on.
Picture your logo, stamped with a big red disclaimer that says:
- People with disabilities may not make it through our application process.
- People with disabilities don’t have equal access to tools and resources in our company.
- People with disabilities will encounter barriers that keep them from thriving here.
The last thing you want is to be ‘found out’ for allowing this to happen. Luckily, no one expects you to achieve a 100% accessibility overnight. As long as you’re taking steps, even baby steps, you’re moving in the right direction.
A good mantra to follow is:
“Be better today than we were yesterday.”
3. Accessibility has a cost. Not being accessible has an even greater cost.
Beyond the hit to your brand reputation, think about what your losing when you don’t provide accessible experiences. While the war for talent rages on, can you really afford to exclude 15% of the population from applying to your jobs? Can you risk losing 15% of your talent to companies that are more inclusive?
In a world where innovation is king and curiosity is an employer’s #1 competency, even a small improvement can make a world of difference. Imagine increasing diversity of thought in your company by 15%. Based on research, you can bet you’d see more than a 15% return.
I’m sold. Now what?
Since accessibility matters for web apps, mobile apps, digital media, and basically everything your candidates and employees touch, it can feel like an impossible project. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Find help. You don’t have to do it alone. There are companies out there that specialize in accessibility. They can provides audits, training, whatever you need. You’ll also want to find an internal champion (or group of champions!) to keep the wheels moving.
- Look for like-minded partners. Because technology operates in an ecosystem, you’ll need to make sure your vendor partners are on the accessibility journey, too. They don’t be completely mature, or even in the same place as you. But they need to be on the journey.
- Follow the guidelines. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is considered the gold standard in accessibility and is used all over the world. This framework provides specific and clear-cut guidance for designers, developers, and anyone interested in creating accessible experiences.
- Start a focus group. Accessibility often involves making changes that are invisible to people without disabilities. How will you know it’s working? There are tools and widgets you can use, but also, get feedback from people with disabilities and people who use assisstive technologies.
- Take a step. Don’t stall the project because you don’t know where to start. Like any big undertaking, you’ll need to prioritize and take a phased approach. Find a place in the business where you think you’ll see the biggest impact from accessibility improvements. Or, find a low-risk place to experiment. What matters most is that you start.
To learn more about accessibility and how to get started, watch our webinar: How to Get a Win for Diversity & Accessibility in 2020.