At DRT, we know that everyone deserves accessible, positive, digital experiences when using the internet. When browsing the web or using online services, people with disabilities should experience the same ease and success of those without disabilities. And access to online information and services is both a right and the best way to do business.
A Law and A Value
The inclusion of people with disabilities is enshrined in both our American laws and American values. President George H. W. Bush signed the ADA into law in 1990. Prior to 1990, individuals with disabilities had little protection under the law and were not able to access basic human necessities. For example, an individual who used a wheelchair for mobility could not shop at his or her local grocery store because there were no wheelchair ramps or accessible parking space. A person who was Deaf could not understand their physician because they were not provided an interpreter. In passing the ADA, Congress recognized the inherent worth of all people—including people with disabilities—and their right to have equal access to goods and services. This American value of equality and justice benefits all citizens.
Better for the Bottom Line
It is well known that websites that include accessible features are better for business. When your website is accessible for everyone, you increase the number of people you can serve. In Tennessee, people with disabilities make up more than 15% of the population and people over 65 make up more than 16%. Both of these communities benefit from accessible websites. When a business provides an accessible website, they potentially expand their customer base in Tennessee by 30%.
Increased Web Traffic
Website accessibility can also increase website SEO. The better a customer’s experience, the longer they stay and interact with content, which increases future engagement with the site. This means that more visits to a website turn into more satisfied customer interactions, which, even if the websites themselves are not sales platforms, can ultimately convert to better financial outcomes. The higher a website’s SEO, the more visibility a company has and ultimately, the more potential for financial growth.
And best of all, accessibility serves ALL customers. People are engaging with online content more frequently and in more diverse situations. Now more than ever, people are more likely to be viewing content online and on smaller devices like tablets and smartphones. Web accessibility features, like high contrast colors, the ability to magnify the screen, have content read aloud, and video captions, have been shown to be as useful to a web user with a vision disability, someone who is aging, and a busy middle-aged person with a master’s degree who is skimming content. Ultimately, website accessibility benefits all customers.
What We’re Doing
At DRT, we are continually learning about and expanding our own digital accessibility. Read DRT’s accessibility statement. In our use of social media, we include closed captions on our videos, image descriptions of our photos, and links to content that can be read by a screen reader. When possible, we translate our videos into ASL and Spanish. And transcripts of our videos are always available on YouTube. DRT’s YouTube channel.
Additionally, in 2020, we added the Recite Me Toolbar to our website. This toolbar offers many options to make our website accessible to both people with disabilities and non-English speaking users. This toolbar is fully customizable for an individualized experience. Learn more about using Recite Me.
At DRT, we are committed to continuing to grow and learn about how to best serve our community – including improving our digital accessibility. As the digital landscape changes, so will our online accessibility tools and techniques. We know people with disabilities have a right to access online information. And we know it’s the best thing for our organization and community as a whole.