Around 400.000 people in Austria have a disability pass, like the one data of the Ministry of Social Affairs show. There are also thousands of people with temporary restrictions due to accidents or illnesses. With barrier-free websites, companies and public authorities could reach a large part of this target group much better. This not only prevents discrimination, but also opens up additional sales potential. Wolfgang Gliebe, expert in the field of digital accessibility, explains which points companies should definitely pay attention to.
Accessible websites offer numerous advantages: Visually impaired people benefit from the enlargement options of the font; Color-blind people if green text on a red background is avoided and the hearing impaired if videos are underlaid with subtitles. In many cases, this also improves the usability for all website visitors and the ranking in the search engine results. “Companies that are interested in accessible websites have long since ceased to regard this as a kind of compulsory exercise, but usually do so out of deep conviction. In doing so, you not only do your fellow human beings a good service, but also your own reputation and improve your business opportunities at the same time, ”explains Wolfgang Gliebe, Network partner of Quality Austria, and recommends companies to observe the following tips:
1. Beware of Discrimination: These laws are relevant
According to the Web Accessibility Act (WZB), websites and mobile applications from federal authorities must even be accessible without barriers. The Federal Disability Equality Act (BGStG), which applies not only to the public but also to the private sector, is also relevant in this context. "Under the BGStG, disproportionate barriers could constitute discrimination and even result in claims for damages," explains Gliebe. Barriers are not only structural hurdles, but also non-accessible websites, web shops or apps.
2. Leverage more than $ 6 trillion in purchasing power
According to a survey by the WHO from 2016, around 15 percent or more than 1 billion people are affected by a disability. These people have a total purchasing power of more than $ 6 trillion. According to forecasts, the number of people affected will even double to 2050 billion people by 2. "The implementation of barrier-free websites is not only a human gesture, but also harbors enormous sales potential, especially since non-disabled people are placing increasing importance on compliance with ethical standards," says the expert.
3. Clear websites encourage customer acquisition
Accessibility does not only mean that websites are made accessible in the first place for people with impaired senses and movement. As a result, they will also become more user-friendly overall, which ultimately benefits all visitors. The better users find their way around a website and the easier it is for them to find out about an offer, the more likely it is that a purchase will be made or that leads will generally be generated.
4. Good usability as a factor in search engine ranking
Almost every organization aims to be at the forefront with the relevant keywords in the organic Google search, because that opens up business potential. Two of the myriad factors that influence the legendary Google algorithm are the website layout and the website code - in other words, the entire structure of a website has an impact on the search engine ranking. In other words, good usability is rewarded, bad usability is penalized. In this respect, this is also a good argument to create a barrier-free and easy-to-use website.
5. Certifications are becoming increasingly important
Not only the operators of a website have to keep themselves up to date on the requirements of a barrier-free website, but also, for example, web designers, UX designers, online editors and the company's marketing departments. In addition to the ongoing training of employees, companies should also seek certification of their barrier-free websites by independent accreditation bodies. “Certifications are not required by law. However, it is precisely this fact that is usually seen as an unmistakable sign that accessibility is a matter close to the heart of the company and is not perceived as a duty or even a burden, ”says Gliebe with conviction.
As a network partner of Quality Austria, the digital accessibility expert regularly holds seminars on this topic and audits companies and their websites for Austria's leading certification organization so that they meet the requirements of accessibility in terms of the respective standards and norms.
More information for organizations and employees who want to keep themselves up to date in the area of accessibility: https://www.qualityaustria.com/produktgruppen/digital-economy/
More information about certifications in the area of accessibility: https://www.qualityaustria.com/produktgruppen/digital-economy/design-for-all-digital-accessibility/
Portrait photo: Wolfgang Gliebe, network partner of Quality Austria, product expert digital accessibility and accessibility © Riedmann Photography
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