Because of the COVID-19 crisis, web accessibility has become more necessary now than ever -- particularly for persons with disabilities (PWDs).
With outdoor activities being limited and discouraged, both the non-disabled and the PWDs are looking for other ways to meet their needs.
One of these is by purchasing things online.
Acquiring grocery items, medicines, and other necessities offline is already challenging for PWDs. Sadly, it’s even more so when they shop online because some eCommerce websites just aren’t accessible to PWDs.
This is damaging not only to their access to essential services but also to your bottom line.
To help you get a better understanding of how crucial it is for your eCommerce site to be accessible during the pandemic, we’ve listed five points below.
1. You help PWDs access basic needs easily
One of the primary reasons for making your site accessible is to help PWDs meet their basic needs more handily.
When your eCommerce site is accessible, they can freely browse through your product catalog, avail of discounts, process their purchases and payment, and more.
Making your site accessible, though, involves plenty of work and resources -- that is, when you do it manually.
You have to shell out at least 20,000 dollars for working with web developers (among other professionals) to make your website compliant. It can also take around 6 to 10 months of arduous labor, depending on your site.
Manually coding your site for accessibility is also risky because when your site updates, some of the changes made can disappear, making your site inaccessible again.
Which is why, to make your site accessible, you need to work with automated solutions that will make your website accessible round the clock. accessiBe, is one such platform — and it is AI-powered.
The AI then begins studying your site and makes it accessible within 48 hours. It also refreshes its scan every 24 hours to ensure accessibility at all times.
With accessiBe, your disabled customers can then modify the elements in your interface according to their needs, like changing text colors, using more readable fonts, and others.
They can also pause flashing animations, use the online dictionary, activate the virtual keyboard, go to various pages with Quick Navigation, and more.
With accessiBe, you make it ultra-painless for you to achieve accessibility and for your impaired customers to acquire their essentials from your eCommerce site.
2. You can avert accessibility lawsuits and penalties
Another reason you should make your site accessible during the COVID-19 crisis is to avert accessibility lawsuits and violation penalties.
If you’re wondering what law you’re breaking by having inaccessible sites, it’s the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
It prohibits discrimination of PWDs in transportation, employment, telecommunications, access to government services, and public accommodations -- which includes websites.
When your PWD customer can’t use your site because its design features don’t enable him to do so, you are, in effect, discriminating against him from availing of your services.
According to the ADA, the PWD customer can file complaints and sue you for that.
You can pay more than five figures on your first offense, and over six figures for the subsequent ones.
In this crisis, you can’t afford to incur further income losses for your business -- especially huge ones like those penalties for breaking ADA compliance.
The sooner your site becomes accessible, the safer you can be from facing lawsuits and complaints from your disabled customers.
3. You make your site more discoverable on SERPs
Because of the pandemic, you have all the more reason to boost your site’s SEO.
Did you know that by making your site accessible, it can help you with your rankings?
When you make your site accessible, more impaired customers can use your site, consume your content, and more.
Not to mention, other webmasters are likely to link to your site because they know that their PWD’s web traffic can consume your site’s content, too.
That increases the traffic on your store, makes you more discoverable on search engine results pages (SERPs), and ramps up chances for more shoppers to click on your store.
When that happens, you widen your customer base and augment your sales and conversion opportunities, among others, not only among non-disabled users but also among PWDs.
Remember, coupled with the right keywords, accessibility can skyrocket your eCommerce site to the top SERPs so PWDs can immediately find and click your store.
4. You boost your brand image
Accessibility promotes social inclusivity -- where no one, not even the disabled individuals, gets left behind in accessing basic needs and others.
By making your site accessible to impaired buyers, you support inclusivity and become socially responsible.
That boosts your brand image in the eyes of not only the PWDs but also disabled rights advocates and other socially conscious shoppers.
They can recommend your eCommerce store to their peers and fellow advocates, leading to an expanded customer base and stronger brand patronage and loyalty.
If you build your brand through accessibility now, your business performance, too, can eventually improve even after the outbreak has ended.
5. You improve your PWDs’ user experience
Pursuing web accessibility during this crisis helps enhance PWDs’ shopping experience on your eCommerce site.
When you do that, your disabled customers, no matter their disability, can read your product details more clearly, navigate your site smoothly, comprehend your content, and others.
For instance, when you let epileptic users regulate flashing animations and visuals, they can safely browse your site without triggering seizures and other life-threatening conditions.
Before deciding to buy something, your blind buyers can integrate their screen readers and identify your product images. Colorblind shoppers can also recognize the right item colors when you enable adjustment settings.
Deafmute users, too, can watch your video tutorials or product demos when you display subtitles, and more.
By enhancing PWDs’ user experience through accessibility, you can serve more disabled buyers and help them access their needs from your store.
Pursue accessibility in the COVID-19 crisis.
The COVID-19 crisis is one of the best times to pursue web accessibility for your eCommerce site.
By doing so, you open your store to a larger number of shoppers, especially the PWDs, who are more vulnerable and in need of extra help this time.
Not only that, but you can boost your business performance and remain socially relevant and competitive once your site becomes accessible.
What are other reasons for pursuing accessibility for your eCommerce site during the COVID-19 outbreak? Click the comment button below to share your thoughts. Cheers!
Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.