• February 11, 2020
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Websites Don't Need to Ignore Disabled Customers

There are an estimated 1 billion people worldwide (roughly 15 percent of the total population) living with disabilities, and businesses are missing out by not offering websites that are accessible to those individuals.

For businesses, there is both a moral and financial incentive to make digital experiences more inclusive. According to UsableNet, there was one lawsuit filed every hour in 2019 against companies with inaccessible websites.

Applause, a provider of digital quality and crowdsourced testing, recently surveyed more than 100 quality assurance professionals on how their companies address digital accessibility. While most respondents indicated that digital accessibility was either a high or very high priority, more than half admitted their company websites didn't meet, or they were unsure if it met, WCAG 2.1 standards. The top mistakes respondents continue to see on websites include error alerts not being descriptive, site and page structures that are unclear, and sites that cannot be navigated via keyboard.

"In a way, accessibility is about survival. We can do almost all daily activities online—everything from paying bills to buying plane tickets. Yet, while the move to digital is supposed to make life easier and more convenient, the opposite can actually be true if digital accessibility isn't considered early in the process," said Jonathan Zaleski, head of Applause Labs, in a statement.

Applause is addressing digital accessibility with the launch today of the Applause Accessibility Tool, the first tool to integrate seamlessly into the web development process to help developers identify and resolve accessibility issues almost immediately with an automated fix or recommendation.

"Digital accessibility is critically important for all brands today, both from a business perspective and for the greater good of consumers and digital experiences," said Doron Reuveni, founder and CEO of Applause, in a statement. "We understand how essential accessibility is, and that is why we are investing so much effort into providing inclusive experiences for all users. Not only does the Applause Accessibility Tool find and fix key issues during the development process, it also educates developers so that the accessibility of apps and websites is improved on a continuing basis."

"Accessibility is for everyone, and this new tool will help put accessibility front of mind for developers, making it easier than ever before to identify and fix some of the most common digital accessibility issues early on," Zaleski added.

The Applause Accessibility Tool complements the company's accessibility testing offering. While the tool can help identify and fix common issues, Applause still recommends manual evaluation by accessibility experts to fully evaluate digital experiences and ensure they are compliant with regulations and guidelines. Applause al;so offers a team of accessibility experts trained in accessibility laws and standards and the full suite of human-driven testing processes that should be leveraged alongside the Applause Accessibility Tool.

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