What you already know: Governments around the world mandate an accessible web experience for regulated industries, and you can be fined heavily for noncompliance. One airline was recently fined a whopping $2 million for failing to provide proper accessibility.
But there are hidden risks that can affect your company if you fail to comply with website accessibility standards. These risks can add up to greater costs than government fines or civil litigation. If you decide to ignore web accessibility requirements, you should be prepared to accept these hidden risks as well.
Inaccessible Websites Can Hurt You
Persons with disabilities represent a growing demographic. As much as 20% of the population has a disability, and an aging customer base means more and more of your website visitors will have physical limitations. This trend will not decline, and the voice of persons with disabilities is gaining momentum. Companies that willfully ignore the needs of this demographic are sure to suffer damage to their brands and reputation.
Missed Market Opportunities.
Similarly, if your website isn't accessible, you risk missing out on opportunities to gain more customers and increase revenue. Competitors who have accessible websites will easily reap the increasing numbers of persons with disabilities, simply because those customers can't use your website.
On the other hand, if you're one of the first in your industry to become web accessible, you can win customers who couldn't use your competitors' inaccessible websites.
Many companies choose to throw money at a problem, hoping for a quick fix over a real and sustainable solution. They hire lawyers to deal with legal claims and spend hundreds of hours diverting their staff to field consumer complaints. But because these patchwork solutions draw significant company resources, investing in a permanent solution seems too costly.
So these companies continue to deal with new consumer complaints and legal problems the in same manner. They risk entering a tailspin that demands more time and money, and they move farther away from the real solution that could end the constant problem management.
A Weaker Organization.
With the Avoidance Tailspin comes the risk of opportunity cost. By dumping money into costly patchwork solutions, companies risk the opportunity to invest funding into product and process improvements - improvements that could lead to better sales and a healthier business.
Less Qualified Employees.
Companies that don't have an accessible infrastructure take personnel risks as well. The marketplace is loaded with bright, talented individuals with disabilities. But if these job candidates can't use your system because it isn't accessible, your company has lost the opportunity to become a stronger organization, and you risk settling for lesser talent.
Becoming accessible simply makes good business sense. Accessibility is doable, and it's less costly than taking the risk of willful inaccessibility. Not paying attention is risky business.