There’s a barrier you might not even be aware of in your journey as a solopreneur — a barrier that can prevent potential clients from accessing your services. It’s not market saturation or pricing strategies; it’s website accessibility and ignoring this, could be the biggest mistake you’re making in your business.
Here are 5 key insights that can help you as a solopreneur understand the concept of website accessibility better:
1. Legal Implications
Various regions around the world have laws and regulations that mandate digital accessibility.
In Canada, The Accessible Canada Act is intended to create a barrier-free Canada through the proactive identification, removal, and prevention of barriers to accessibility wherever Canadians interact with areas under federal jurisdiction. This includes areas like banking, telecommunications, and transportation that crosses provincial lines.
The Act sets out to increase inclusivity and accessibility with a longer-term goal of ensuring equality of participation in society for all Canadians, particularly those with disabilities. This includes digital accessibility and the aim to make websites and digital content more accessible.
It’s important for solopreneurs operating in Canada to understand this law and to ensure that their digital properties are in compliance. This can help avoid potential legal issues and also ensures a more inclusive and accessible experience for all users.
I’ll be writing specifically about Ontario, because that’s where I live, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, or AODA. The Act was established in 2005 with the goal of making Ontario accessible for people with disabilities by 2025.
The AODA sets standards in key areas of daily life, including customer service, employment, information and communication, transportation, and design of public spaces. The Information and Communications Standards of the AODA specifically addresses the need for digital accessibility.
Under these standards, businesses and organizations in Ontario are required to make their web content accessible. This means that websites and web content must meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A and Level AA, with few exceptions.
In the USA, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act both require certain businesses to have accessible websites. It’s key to understand that accessibility isn’t just a ‘nice to have’, it can also be a legal requirement.
I know this legal jargon and sound overwhelming, but I’m your web content specialist, not your lawyer and can’t provide you with legal advice. You’ll have to do consult with your local and federal government. It’s likely that their website won’t give you clear-cut, easy to understand answers, so give them a call. They’ve got the knowledge to give you the rundown on any applicable laws and how to follow them.
Now, where my magic really happens is in assessing your website. I’m more than happy look at your website’s home page, and whip up a list of suggestions that could make it shine. Once you’ve got the hang of those, you can replicate these changes throughout your site.
2. Broadening Reach
An accessible website is not just about catering to those with disabilities. It can also improve user experience for everyone, including those with temporary limitations such as a broken arm, or situational limitations like bright sunlight on a screen. Understanding this helps to appreciate the wider benefits of accessibility.
3. SEO Benefits
Accessible websites are often more attractive to search engines. Features that make a website more accessible, like alt text for images (not keyword stuffing), proper use of headers, and meaningful link text, also improve SEO. Therefore, accessibility efforts can have a dual payoff.
Always remember though, your website is for humans, not the search engines.
4. Brand Image and Social Responsibility
Businesses that prioritize accessibility often gain a positive reputation, as this shows they care about all users, including those with disabilities. Embracing accessibility can therefore contribute positively to a company’s brand image.
It’s the right thing to do, plain and simple.
5. Future-Proofing Your Business
Technology and the way people use it are constantly evolving. An accessible website is flexible and adaptable, making it better equipped to meet the changes and challenges of the future.
Wrapping It Up
Once you understanding these insights, as a solopreneur you can appreciate the value of an accessible website, and be motivated to take the necessary steps to ensure your site is inclusive and accessible for everyone.
Even if nothing above applied to you, making your website compliant for accessibility is the right thing to do.
Until next time, stay inspired.