Over 1 billion people are estimated to live with some form of disability. This corresponds to about 15% of the world's population - and the number continues to grow, due to aging populations as well as an increase in chronic health conditions. Digital products, like all products, should be as accessible as possible: they make our societies, services and businesses more inclusive. How many of your potential customers are you willing to lose to competitors simply because your mobile solution is not accessible?
The pandemic has changed people’s lives – and it has changed business as well. We are now witnessing tremendous growth in the number of people using digital channels – in times of social distancing, digital often becomes their only choice. Lots of daily activities have moved solely online and, in many cases, workarounds are no longer an option.
Businesses cannot ignore this shift anymore. Same as ramps and automatic doors improved physical access in the past, the time has now come for the digital world to finally open to everyone.
Business success often depends on the ability to predict future trends and embrace them long before they become mainstream. In this context, we might argue that a seamless mobile experience – and this includes mobile accessibility - is the next important thing in our tech-driven world.
Apart from leading the way to an open digital world, providing access to technology for people with disabilities presents lots of so far untapped business opportunities. Below we have listed some of the most important benefits that come from prioritizing mobile accessibility:
1. Extend your market reach
Disability has many different forms, including hearing, visual, motor, and cognitive impairments. Let’s take a closer look at one of them: different forms of visual impairment. Globally, at least 2.2 billion individuals have a near or distance vision impairment. This is not such a small market share, is it?
When you have an accessible mobile solution, you automatically increase the overall number of people that can visit and use your app. To give you a real business example: one of our clients, a German insurer HUK-Coburg, has decided to incorporate accessibility features in its mobile app. The stats show that this investment really payed off. Many HUK’s customers have already leveraged the app’s accessibility options: 39% of users changed font size to different than the default size and 2% of users have activated VoiceOver and TalkBack options.
2. Boost sales
Investment in accessibility makes financial sense. A Forrester Research on “Assessing The Value Of Accessible Technologies For Organizations” concluded that accessibility could greatly contribute to businesses’ cost savings when it is integrated into existing and ongoing development cycles.
Making mobile products accessible is a real opportunity for every business to reach huge segments ready to spend their money. Again, if we just look at the numbers: the above-mentioned 1 billion individuals with disabilities actually hold a disposable annual income of $1.2 trillion. And these are the same people who won’t complain that your digital solution is inaccessible – instead, in 71% of cases, they will just leave immediately. Just ask yourself this question: can your business really afford to ignore them?
3. Drive change with a responsible brand
Building an accessible mobile solution will also help your brand’s reputation. According to a survey by Accenture Strategy, 62% of consumers prefer to make purchases from a brand that is willing to take a stand on current and broadly relevant issues such as sustainability, accessibility and other. Thus, a brand image of being a socially responsible company can resonate with your customers and distinguish your business from the competition. Many global brands like Microsoft, Google, Apple or Amazon are already focusing a lot of their attention on inclusion, offering clear, well-integrated accessibility solutions to their customers.
4. Increase your customers’ satisfaction
In our experience, introducing accessibility recommendations in an app always improves the general usability of the solution. When businesses develop solutions for people with severe disabilities, in many cases they will end up benefiting many other users as well: people with mild disabilities, the elderly, etc.
Sometimes, prioritizing inclusivity can contribute to better UX in many not-so-obvious ways. For example, alternative text for images and objects in the app used by people with visual and cognitive impairments can also help people with slow internet connection, because they show the nature of the content before it loads.
The same goes for font sizes. When intive’s team worked on Vorwerk’s Cookidoo ® app for Thermomix, they tracked which font sizes the users had set in their system settings even before they started to implement accessibility features. It turned out that 25% of users had chosen a different font size than the default – just because it suited them better!
5. Minimize legal risks
Last but not least: the development of accessibility features in an app can help your business to avoid claims of discrimination and legal actions. Every year the number of web accessibility lawsuits grows. In 2020, there were more than 3,500 digital accessibility lawsuits filed in the U.S., jumping 23% over 2019. What’s interesting, retailers were cited the most in digital accessibility lawsuits, with over 70% of proceedings.
Obviously, desktop websites still dominate the overall number of lawsuits, but mobile apps are getting more and more attention as well. Even though the legal and industry guidance regarding the accessibility of mobile apps has not been well defined yet, we can predict that the change will come sooner than expected.
We hope that all of the above-listed points prove that prioritizing mobile accessibility means success for both users and businesses. So how do you get started?
Integrating accessibility can seem overwhelming at first, but with the right support, it’s a quick and pleasant process. Where possible, accessibility should always be built into the mobile development and design process right from the start instead of being implemented as an afterthought.
If you’re ready to launch a full accessibility initiative or have questions, reach out to intive’s team of experts and we’ll provide you with a detailed consultation about your next steps.