In the US, conversations surrounding inclusion and related legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act are occurring with greater frequency. More institutional and business leaders are investing in supporting accessibility as their every action, site page and marketing campaign is being examined under a microscope, especially as they connect more with diverse audiences online.
As businesses continue to operate more globally, the accessibility needs of the UK audience simply cannot be ignored. Why? It’s not just because creating equitable experiences is the right thing for professionals at businesses and brands to prioritize, but because it’s worth £274 billion.
That’s right – the spending power of people with disabilities and their households is estimated to be worth £274 billion per year to UK businesses.
More than 1 in 5 UK consumers has a reported disability and businesses who ignore their needs are estimated to lose a whopping £2 billion each month. Luckily, business leaders can take a moment to further understand the challenges individuals with disabilities face online to better meet them and gain their business loyalty.
Online Barriers Play a Significant Role
Do you know if your online content is accessible? Whether it’s your website, marketing videos, live streams or events, your content and design must be clear and simple. That definition translates roughly to a level at which most individuals can engage with it without needing to adapt it, but with a structure in place to support those who do need to make adaptations.
If you’re drawing a blank, you’re not in the minority. While Forbes reports that digital accessibility is being reframed as “an all-out business win, not a compliance burden” most business websites are failing audiences and consumers with disabilities. 97.4% of 1 million homepages tested had detectable WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) failures.
The Society for Innovation, Technology and Modernisation also found that just 4 in 10 local council homepages – government bodies which are often held to higher standards than businesses – failed basic accessibility tests. Websites are often the biggest culprit in the realm of inaccessibility.
Yet with the online spending power of individuals who are disabled reaching approximately £16 billion, an inaccessible website can translate significantly to your business’s bottom line. Additional estimates show that 4.3 million online shoppers with disabilities click away from inaccessible websites and have a combined spending power of £11.75 billion in the UK.
Taking the steps to partner with a brand like accessiBe or add accessibility widgets that offer options like magnifying text, add captions like Verbit’s to recorded marketing videos and live streams or offering audio description capabilities to individuals who are Blind can make a serious difference in retaining these consumers.
Legislation to Keep Top of Mind
The UK’s Equality Act of 2010 replaced a formerly piecemeal approach to anti-discrimination laws. The EQA, which replaced the Disability Discrimination Act everywhere except Northern Ireland, demands the protection of individuals living with disabilities. It aims to prevent discrimination based on categories, such as age, sex, religion, sexual orientation and political affiliation. The UN Convention on disability rights has also been agreed on by the UK to protect and promote the rights of people with disabilities in the region.
With the Equality Act of 2010 in mind, leaders at public entities and businesses can do more to follow its guidelines and support the accessibility requirements of today’s UK consumers. Making reasonable accommodations for people living with disabilities often comes in at very little cost, but the amount businesses will lose in ignoring these needs – whether they’re fully obligated to or not – will cost them significantly. In fact, 75% of individuals with disabilities and their families have walked away from a UK business because of poor accessibility or customer service. That’s a clear statistic you business cannot ignore.
Verbit is working with corporations and businesses across the world to help support them on their accessibility journeys with AI-based technology. Verbit’s accurate closed captioning and transcription which can be applied to live and recorded audio, such as podcasts, and videos and events, is helping them engage online audiences and target consumers more effectively in real-time. With most ‘free’ tools on the market not meeting accessibility benchmarks, Verbit’s highly accurate services can come in to better support today’s UK consumers’ accessibility needs.