Aug 23, 2019

Most government, news and information, and e-commerce websites are inaccessible to visually impaired users, causing them to lose billions of dollars

A recent report reveals the numerous challenges faced by visually-impaired web users and the lack of accessibility-focused web development. The study, organized by accessibility software company Deque Systems and conducted by Nucleus Research, found that 70 percent of e-commerce, news and information and government categories had significant accessibility issues. Users were often forced to take their business to rival sites.

Among internet retailers, roughly two-thirds of the top ten online retailers had accessibility issues, often unoptimized for the visually impaired. Denying full access to consumers who are blind is leaving as much as $6.9 billion in e-commerce revenue each year to a small handful of accessible alternatives (in North America). Some of the largest retailers — Amazon, Best Buy, and Target — were leaders in fixing accessibility issues in the e-commerce space.

Accessibility is a hot-button issue for many in the developer community. During the development process, accessibility is often an afterthought that requires developers to redo segments of the codebase. Remediation can be expensive, time-consuming, and resource-intensive. For small teams and companies in particular, accessibility is a task that is repeatedly deferred.

To enable a greater push toward accessibility-friendly development, developers have two options. First, web developers can be more proactive during the development process to include necessary accessibility features into websites before being generally available. Designing and building with accessibility in mind ensures that a website is architecturally flexible to accommodate necessary improvements. Second, as many leaders in the developer world argue, schools and bootcamps should teach accessibility concepts as a core part of their curriculums. Development should, by default, be accessible and any methods taught to developers in training should reflect that reality.

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