Have you ever considered the legal risks associated with your company—or your client’s—website or mobile app not being fully accessible to users with disabilities?  Inclusive technology—that is, technology that is accessible to people with a wide range of physical and cognitive abilities—is now a legal requirement for any organization with a public facing website or mobile app. This article will explore some of the reasons why overlooking digital accessibility can be risky business.

#1 Increased Litigation

In the first three quarters of 2019, 2,088 lawsuits were filed alleging inaccessible websites or other technologies, compared with 1,665 in the same period last year – a 20% increase.

The number of lawsuits continues to climb steadily year over year across all industries. If your technology isn’t accessible it’s no longer a question of if your organization will be sued, but a question of when.

#2 Your Competitors Are Making Accessibility a Priority

54.6% of organizations say they are accelerating their accessibility compliance plans due to the current litigation trends.

In the 2019 State of Digital Accessibility survey, organizations large and small across the U.S. reported they are prioritizing digital accessibility in order to mitigate risk, stay competitive in the marketplace, and protect their image and brand.

#3 You Want to Win More Contracts

Procurement of accessible technologies is written into law in many countries and into policies at many organizations.

As a result of the legal risk surrounding inaccessible technology, there is a trend pushing accessibility into supplier chains, especially in high risk and regulated industries like government, banking, healthcare, and retail.

#4 It Affects More People Than You May Think

Worldwide, 750 million people have a disability and three out of every ten families are touched by a disability. In the U.S., 27% of the population has some form of disability that hinders their ability to use technology.

That’s a market segment your organization cannot ignore —especially if your competitor’s website or product is accessible. You want to offer your goods and services to as many people as possible, and having inclusive technology opens doors to new opportunities.

#5 It Affects Your Employees Too

Employers are at risk if their software, careers site, intranet, or other technologies they use are not accessible to employees and job applicants with disabilities.

Under the terms of the settlement in Bartleson v. Miami-Dade County School District,

the employer (M-DCPS) agreed to make its digital content accessible, as well as pay a total of $250,000 to their employee (Bartleson) and her attorneys.

#7 It Affects Your Bottom-Line

In the United States alone, the purchasing power of people who are blind is $175 billion.

Recent studies indicate that 95% of the blind community performs their shopping online. Also, given their significant transportation problems, blind consumers are loyal to accessible sites, even if the prices on the accessible site are higher.

#8 You Leave Dollars on the Table for Your Competitors to Pick up

75% of shoppers with disabilities “walked away” from a business because of poor customer care and lack of understanding of their needs.

According to the ClickAway Pound Report 2016, people with disabilities were quick to walk away from businesses that did not provide an accessible shopping experience. With the abundance of options on the internet, it is often easier to find a different vendor than fight with an inaccessible website.

#9 A Call Center Can’t Solve the Problem

Only 7% of people with disabilities will contact customer support when they come across a problem.

When a customer with a disability comes across an accessibility bug that prevents them from purchasing, chances are very high that they will “click away” to a different, more accessible site rather than contacting customer support.

#10 Market Opportunities Beyond the Law

Designing for accessibility helps more than just those with disabilities.

When technology is accessible to people with disabilities, it is also easier to use for:

  • Older people
  • People with low literacy
  • People who are not fluent in your language
  • People with low bandwidth connections to the internet
  • People with older technologies

For additional information on how to mitigate legal risks associated with inaccessible technology, check out this practical guide: Why Digital Accessibility? Why Now?