Accessibility - What Is It and Is It Worth the Bother?

Accessibility - What Is It and Is It Worth the Bother?

A recent spate of poorly put together marketing emails and post has left me wondering whether business, political parties and others in the UK understand 'accessibility' and its value when trying to communicate with others?

Accessibility; in response to the second part of the question I pose in the title for this article, it's a bit carrot and stick.

The stick is the law; namely the Equality Act (2010) which expects businesses to make 'reasonable adjustments' for those identified as having 'protected characteristics' namely; age, disability, sex, religion or belief, race, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marriage & civil partnership and pregnancy & maternity.

But what is accessibility? It is a good measure for how well you are making those 'reasonable adjustments' required by the law - how easily can someone with one or more of the protected characteristics access your products or services? Or even read your marketing materials?

There are the obvious such as do you have accessible toilets (often called disabled toilets) which someone in a wheelchair could actually access. This is not as 'common sense' as you may think. In the process of conducting Accessibility Audits* for organisations, I have come across 'accessible' toilets that a wheelchair user could enter but not close the door behind his or herself because it opened inwards. Would you want to leave the door open while using the toilet? Is this 'reasonable?'

Then there are the less obvious barriers to accessibility which I see on a daily basis and which I will come to in a moment.

But, before I do, consider the carrot and stick again. If the law is the stick then the potential for increasing the size of your market is the carrot. For, which sensible business (or other organisation) will not make 'reasonable adjustments' if they open up previously ignored demographics?

This is where understanding those less obvious barriers to accessibility become important. Let us take something as seemingly innocent as a font you choose to use on your company website, in your emails, or in other communications. The main driver here is usually the 'look' and the overall design yet for an estimated 10% of people the font you choose can be the difference between being easily read, difficult to read and even, for some, near impossible to read.

By understanding which fonts are more (or less) accessible and making those 'reasonable adjustments' you make your business more accessible to, potentially, 10% more people. That is over 6 million people in the UK.

There are numerous other ways in which understanding how to make your business more accessible can increase your potential market size by 10, 15, or even 20%; many just as easy as changing a font.

Equality is important and the law is there for a reason but surely, for the sensible business, the carrot is preferable to the stick and the carrot of increasing the number of people you are talking to must be worth some reasonable adjustment. Especially if your competitors are not doing the same!

Is accessibility worth the bother? You tell me.

*Drop me a line today to book your Accessibility Audit and start opening the door to your business to more people.

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited, 2016

Twitter @cowanglobal


What's Hot