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Is Your Business Sustainable if Your Website is not Accessible?

Caren Launus-Gamble of KreativeInc

Caren Launus-Gamble

“Is a business sustainable if its website is not accessible?” With COP26 in full flow, I have been asking myself this question more and more recently on looking at the web accessibility status of many businesses that say that they are sustainable.

In this post, I want to question the genuine sustainability of a business that excludes people with different access needs from using its digital platforms.

What is sustainability, and why is it so popular?

In 2015, the UN set up sustainable development goals  (SDGs) with multiple interconnected goals. The SDGs address the global challenges relating to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice to increase the quality of life for all people without leaving anyone behind. In simple terms, sustainability means creating a better world that includes all of us.

 

There are commercial advantages too. According to the HSBC Report on Sustainability, 86% of companies expect sustainability processes to boost their sales. And pressures from consumers, governments, and supply chain partners to be sustainable are increasing too. So, sustainability is increasingly becoming a necessary strategy for business growth.

What is web accessibility, and how does it fit into sustainability?

Web accessibility means that digital platforms are designed and developed to be used by everyone, irrespective of different access needs. In a nutshell, allowing all users to perceive, operate and understand a web platform’s content and being able to use any device of their choice to do so.

 

Digital platforms such as websites, apps, social media, etc., have become an essential part of everyday life. More so now, as the Covid-19 pandemic has catapulted us into a new digital transformation era. Therefore, digital platforms and easy access to them are crucial in attaining the SDGs.

 

However, if digital platforms are not designed with accessibility in mind, people are excluded from participation in business and society. They are locked out of the sustainability movement, which goes against the SDGs.

 

Web accessibility does not just benefit disabled and impaired people. Platforms designed with accessibility in mind often deliver a better user experience for non-disabled people and, consequently, gain a competitive edge. Having inaccessible, user-unfriendly web platforms works against business growth.

Tesco, for example, worked with the RNIB to make its home grocery service more accessible to blind customers. They tested the new website with more than 70 blind and partially sighted people.

This resulted in a 350% increase in sales that year alone, and fully sighted customers found it easier to use the new site. Tesco has since built accessibility into all its online services.

There are environmental advantages too: accessible digital platforms are also more energy-efficient. Web platforms with poorly written code are wasteful as they require more processing time and power, which consumes more energy. Accessible platforms must use good code and best practices to adhere to accessibility standards. And other accessibility requirements, such as not setting videos to auto-play, directly impact energy consumption too. The effect of one web platform may be like a drop in the ocean, but billions of sites could make a remarkable difference.

 

In 2020, the BBC published an article, highlighting that about 53.6% of the global population use the internet. The associated energy used and greenhouse gases emitted with each online activity account for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions. And these emissions are predicted to double by 2025!

So, is your business sustainable if your web platform is not accessible?

In my opinion, the answer to this question must be ‘No!’.

 

In today’s digitally transformed society, web accessibility plays an essential role in the effective achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and businesses cannot be considered genuinely sustainable if their digital platforms are not accessible.

What you can do to make your website or app accessible

Would you like to know how you can make your website or app accessible?

 

We can conduct an accessibility audit on your site, create a report with remediation guidance for your developers and work with your team to fix your platform.

 

Get in touch for a free discovery call or e-mail us at info@kreativeincagency.co.uk.