Brands need to ensure that websites are accessible to disabled people, or prepare to lose out on up to £249bn a year.

Firms need to focus on making their website digitally accessible. According to the disability charity Scope, 98% of homepages across 1 million popular websites shockingly failed to meet legal accessibility standards at the beginning of 2019. The charity stressed on the importance of digital accessibility, underscoring the fact that often disabled people are disabled by design. This means that it is not their condition that disables them, but the design of the other things in the world – like the brand’s website design.

Disability encompasses a wide range of needs, including those with motor difficulties, impaired vision and hearing, cognitive impairments and learning disabilities. Every company promising to make the world a better place needs to have a website accessible by disabled people. Brands need to perform better, faster and get more inclusive to reach out to all. According to Scope, the estimated total spending power of families having at least one disabled person is around £249bn a year. This ‘purple pound’ represents a considerable amount of lost income from underrepresented consumers.

More than one out of five potential UK consumers have a disability, which works out to be approximately 19% of working-age adults, 8% of children, and 45% of pension-age adults. Three-quarters of the disabled people and their families have moved away from a UK business because of poor customer service or accessibility. This has resulted in enterprises losing approximately £2bn a month by ignoring the needs of disabled people.

Firms need to accordingly set the design and language of their website for better accessibility. The government has developed a helpful acronym for content accessibility guidelines of firms: POUR. This supports website designing based on four key pillars – Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust.

Perceivable means that information and website design must be designed in a way that all senses can comprehend. This ensures users can quickly change the text to large print, speech or symbols, braille, and the contrast of colors doesn’t affect those with impaired vision. Operable ensures that all – no matter their disability – should be equipped to access the brand online. Users must also be able to comprehend the information as well as the operation of the user interface. Firms can start by using simple language, predictable navigation, and easy ways to help users prevent mistakes. Lastly, websites should be robust enough to be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of assistive technologies that include screen enlargement applications, screen readers, and voice programs.

Even post all the boxes are checked, brands should readily accept suggestions on how to improve. It is of paramount importance to have contact details where people can email about accessibility since 75 % of disabled people and families walk away without submitting suggestions or opinions. Firms need to acknowledge that the accessibility and convenience of users of the website are essential. It will improve the brand and also spread awareness about the issue.

The most crucial element is that firms need to hire more disabled people. Time and again, diversity has proved as the key to better marketing, and disability shouldn’t be forgotten within that. Website accessibility shouldn’t be an afterthought, and having a more diverse workforce will ensure that the firm is not letting these issues slip through the cracks.