Accessibility & Business: A Mutually Beneficial Relationship

Accessibility & Business: A Mutually Beneficial Relationship

There have been strides made in recent years toward creating a more accessible and inclusive society. This has obviously been for the betterment of those living in society; however, businesses that make accessibility a priority have actually also seen higher levels of engagement and satisfaction both from consumers and employees. Accessibility is a rather broad term, but what it boils down to is essentially ensuring that there are no barriers when it comes to people needing to access your goods and services both internally and externally. Let’s get into it.

Accessibility in Business

Accessibility is rather straightforward. For a business, this simply means making a concerted effort to ensure that the products, services and systems – essentially all areas of operation – are usable for all people. Businesses today must design their processes around this simply because it allows them to reach more people both in terms of their hiring processes and their consumer base. Accessibility should be at the centre of all developmental and design processes to ensure that it is totally functional across the board.

What Barriers Stand in the Way of Accessibility

Truthfully, while society has definitely shifted more toward accessibility, there is still a lot of work to do. There are systemic barriers in the way which do not cater to everyone, and this makes life harder for a lot of people. The most common of these tend to be things like language barriers, a lack of economic resources, access issues for digital businesses or adaptive technology, and even geographic factors. Having an awareness of these barriers helps to ensure that you are creating processes with solutions in mind for these potential issues to remove the barriers. For example, creating content and ensuring that it can be shared as accessible PDF documents allows users to view and interact with said documentation, and businesses like AbleDocs can help you with this.

The Benefits of Striving for an Accessible Business

There are several benefits for businesses that strive to ensure accessibility. Firstly, an accessible business is in a better position to reach and attract a wider range of consumers which is crucial for any business with a growth mindset. This is because a lot of businesses still do not make this effort which means that there is an untapped market of people who have previously been denied access through no fault of their own. Of course, any business that removes these barriers are far more likely to get their continued business and gratitude. In addition to this, the business gains a reputation for being inclusive, accessible, and promoting equality which strengthens the image of the brand.

Legal Obligations

It is also important to point out that ensuring that your business is accessible is also a legal requirement in a lot of countries. The country that you operate in will have its own laws and regulations that you need to follow. For example, British businesses are all subject to the Equality Act 2010, which details the requirements that all organisations need to make in an effort to remove the barriers faced by individuals. This means taking into account disabilities and other barriers, thinking about the financial investment required to remove them and how easy these changes will be to make. The onus of the financial investment is on the business. If a business fails to make these changes, then it could be liable for discrimination claims.

Safeguarding Your Business’s Reputation

The potential legal ramifications should be more than enough to impress upon you the importance of accessibility; however, in addition to this, you should also consider how accessibility or a lack thereof will impact your business’s reputation; this was touched on above, but it is worth considering more deeply. Obviously, a lack of accessibility will damage it, but on the flip side, prioritising and striving for accessibility can improve it. Showing your consumers that you are willing and prepared to go above and beyond to serve them regardless of their needs helps you to stand apart from competitors and make your brand identity more robust.

Inclusivity & Accessibility

Inclusivity and accessibility are closely related, they are not synonymous, but there is a relationship there. Inclusivity and accessibility go together; by ensuring that your business is accessible to everyone, you are also ensuring that it is inclusive. You can’t really have one without the other. You also need to have an awareness of inclusion and how to achieve this in order to create accessible practices. In short, while they do not mean the same thing, they are very closely related.

Digital Accessibility

Arguably, physical locations are a lot easier to make accessible than digital content or practices. What it comes down to in the end is the experience of the user. There are a few tools which help to make technology more accessible for everyone, and, as a business, you cannot assume that your users are all going to be able-bodied or not face barriers. Think about the features of your digital content and strategies and whether they are going to be accessible for your consumers.

The Bottom Line

Any business that purports itself to be an ethical or moral business needs to walk the walk as well as talk the talk, and this means striving for total accessibility. It is simply the right thing to do and the fairest thing to do too. Just as it is good for consumers, it is also good for your business as a whole too. Accessibility really should be at the forefront of all business decisions because it is essential to your success. An accessible business is far more likely to reach a wider range of consumers and expand its talent pool when it comes to hiring too. It also benefits from creating a good reputation and brand identity; this, in turn, helps to retain the customers that it attracts, helping to ensure repeat purchases as opposed to one-offs. Lastly, accessibility is also written into a lot of the laws and regulations that businesses need to adhere to. Creating accessible business practices doesn’t necessarily need to be a challenge either; you just need to think a little more deeply.

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