5 reasons to promote digital inclusion

Janaina Santos, 06 October 2020

digital inclusion

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A few years ago the digital divide was between those who had access to the internet and those who hadn’t. Today’s digital inclusion is seen as a much broader concept as there are many layers to the access users have to information available in digital form.

Promoting an inclusive internet environment is a collective responsibility! We will give you 5 practical reasons why you should promote digital accessibility and inclusion in your company or organization.

1. You can reach and retain more customers

According to research from the World Bank, 17 – 20% of the population has a temporary or permanent disability. In Europe alone, this chunk of the population would account for up to 148 million people.

Considering how frustrating it can be for someone with disabilities to navigate a website that is not adapted, you can understand how 71% of these users click away from a website that is not accessible, according to the survey conducted by Click Away Pound in 2019.

If you are not convinced, you can read this report from a blind consumer on his experience trying to navigate non-accessible websites.

Accessibility is also connected to usability and user-centred experience. So by following best practices you can ensure to provide a good experience to all users of your website.

2. Accessible sites have better usability and require less customer service

Digital accessibility is closely connected to usability. What does it mean? If your website is accessible it is easier to use. This is an improvement for every customer, as by following best practices in web accessibility you can ensure that everyone – regardless of their literacy or skills, can find what they need.

A consequence is that customers won’t need to call or contact you if they are not able to navigate your site. You then save their time, cut costs with customer service, while creating a better experience for your customers.

3. The SEO factor – make your video and audio content findable

According to Cisco, by 2022, video content will make up for 82% of all consumer internet traffic.

Podcasts and audio content have also skyrocketed in the past years, so, going back to the last point, think about the size of the audience with a disability and consider how important it is that this content is accessible for them.

Now, if you want to make your video and audio “findable” by search engines like Google, you need to provide the content in a format Google can read: text.

Adding subtitles or transcripts to your video will allow the keywords in your content to be matched with searches ran by users so they can find you!

How to create subtitles – a Step by Step Guide

4. Corporate Responsibility – Improve your company culture and brand image

Digital inclusion promotes fair access to knowledge. It is the right thing to do and as such, it can help to improve the image of your company or organization.

Supporting accessibility and inclusion is good for the culture of your company or organization, consequently boosting the motivation of employees. It also helps to add value to your brand through the perception of your customers and prospects.

Take this seriously as the benefits are tangible.

Read more: Digital Accessibility Strategy: an introduction

5. In some cases, it is a legal requirement

This should not be the only reason to promote digital inclusion but is certainly an important one. As of 23rd of September 2020, all public institutions in most European member states are required to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.1 when publishing content online. This was already a requirement in the US and other countries are moving in the same direction.

In practical terms, this means that, among other things, video and audio content published online need to offer transcripts or subtitles. Advances in ASR technology contributed to making adherence to these guidelines faster and more affordable.

Learn more: Digital Accessibility

Summary

Why should you promote digital inclusion?

  1. Users with disabilities make up for a large chunk of the population and 70% of those users will click away from your website if it’s not accessible.
  2. By creating an accessible website you improve usability, reduce costs with customer service and offer a better overall customer experience.
  3. Adding subtitles or transcripts to your video and audio content allows search engines to detect the words in the content, improving the SEO performance.
  4. Promoting digital inclusion can positively influence your brand image and company culture.
  5. In some regions, such as the EU, public institutions are required by law to meet the WCAG 2.1 standards for digital accessibility.

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