Webinar: Online Accessibility with Bridgeline + accessiBE
We're back with a recap of our latest thought-provoking webinar, unpacking everything you need to know about web accessibility and inclusivity online. Let's dive straight in and hear what our experts had to share.
Carl Prizzi from the Bridgeline team first introduced us to accessiBe, a company he encountered at the Localogy conference in New York City last year. His story about meeting co-founder Deco Midland reminded us of the magic that happens when like-minded people meet! Fast forward a few months, and we're now announcing a partnership to bring accessiBe's innovative solutions to the entire Bridgeline customer base. Carl then passed the conversation over to Josh and Landon from the accessiBe team to get into the meat of the discussion.
Josh Basile serves as the Community Relations Manager at accessiBe. His journey toward this role was marked by a life-changing event around 19 years ago. As a teenager, Josh was involved in a severe ocean accident which resulted in him shattering his neck, leaving him paralyzed below the shoulders, and he was classified as a C4 or C5 quadriplegic.
During his initial hospitalization, Josh temporarily lost his voice due to a ventilator keeping him alive. However, after five weeks, he was able to regain his voice. From that moment, he vowed to ensure that every word counts and decided to become an advocate for life.
Post-recovery, Josh went back to school and eventually became a practicing attorney. His experience and personal understanding of the challenges people with disabilities face, along with his determination to improve accessibility worldwide, led him to join accessiBe. In his current role, he works with the executive team to shape the future of accessibility, particularly in the digital world. His inspiring story serves as a reminder of the importance of web accessibility and inclusivity.
Online Accessibility – the Reality Today
In the first few minutes of his presentation, Josh gave us a sobering statistic - while 26% of adult Americans have some form of disability, only 3% of websites meet Web Accessibility Guidelines. That's quite the digital divide, right?
Josh didn't just tell us about the issues; he also showed us. Using a live demo, he navigated an e-commerce website first without any accessibility features enabled, then compared it to an experience with the accessiBe tool. The difference was night and day! The tool allowed Josh to tab through the site, access dropdown menus, use shortcut keys, and make various adjustments for the visually impaired, those with ADHD, cognitive disabilities, and even those prone to seizures. It was a stark demonstration of how a little empathy in our design can make a massive difference in the user experience.
The Impact of Accessibility on Businesses
Following the demo, Landon Shefts of the accessiBe Partner Success Team touched on a range of important topics around web accessibility and its impact on businesses.
1. Legal Aspects of Web Accessibility
Landon shed light on the legal ramifications of non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that mandates accessibility. The law considers websites as public accommodations that must comply with ADA standards. Failing to comply makes businesses vulnerable to lawsuits and legal challenges. Notably, in 2022, lawsuits and demand letters had significantly increased, with 97% of these cases settled before trial.
2. Cost of Non-compliance
Non-compliance can be expensive for small businesses. Landon estimates that costs can run up to $40,000 for a small business to settle a lawsuit, make a website accessible, and cover attorney's fees.
3. Web Accessibility Standards
Landon then highlighted the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which outline how a website should look, interact, and feel for a person with a disability. Elements such as alternative text for images, color contrast, text resizing, and fonts all contribute to making a website WCAG-compliant.
4. What are the Business Benefits of Accessibility?
There are several benefits to making a website accessible. With an accessible website, businesses can:
- Improve SEO and user experience
- Become eligible for tax credits
- Enhance their brand's inclusivity
- Be more socially responsible
5. SEO and User Experience Optimization
The Future is Inclusive
Landon concluded his talk by emphasizing the importance of inclusivity in web accessibility, not just for legal compliance but also for better user experience and to foster an inclusive digital society.
Inclusivity makes for better business and doesn't have to be complicated. With the right tools and a shift in perspective, we can all make our little corner of the internet more accessible and welcoming for everyone.
This webinar reminded us that web accessibility is not just about ticking boxes for compliance but about recognizing and embracing the diversity of our users. It's about making the web a more inclusive space, one website at a time. To get started, you can reach out to the customer success team at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how creating an accessible website can work for you.