How to use accessibility to make your website stand out

Like most public sector organizations in Ontario, you're probably thinking about January 1, 2021. That's the date when all websites are required to meet...

Friday February 28, 2020

Like most public sector organizations in Ontario, you’re probably thinking about January 1, 2021. That’s the date when all websites are required to meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA accessibility standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). There’s a lot of excitement—and fear—around this looming deadline. But don’t worry! Ensuring your website is accessible not only helps users using assistive and mobile devices, but it can also improve public engagement and communications for all members of the community. Meeting online accessibility regulations may seem like an onerous and expensive task, but it doesn’t have to be, and can actually save you time and money in the long run, and set your website apart.

According to Statistics Canada, 22% of Canadians have at least one type of disability. This amounts to approximately 6.2 million people in Canada and this number is expected to grow as Canada’s population ages. Accessible websites are also the easiest websites to use on mobile devices, such as smartphones, and more than half of searches today are conducted from mobile devices. Failing to meaningfully engage with more than half of your audience is a massive missed opportunity for organizations.

Gain meaningful feedback

Whether you work for the city clerk, in the economic development office or are part of the communications team, your job likely involves receiving or requesting feedback from stakeholders. Done manually, compiling and reporting this information can take a significant amount of time and staff resources.  

Incorporating accessible forms into your website can reduce administrative effort and increase consistency. Online forms offer a convenient way for the public to provide feedback - allowing you to reach more people, eliminate barriers to participation and increase community engagement. For more information, learn how you can benefit from using Form Builder.

Use organic search to enhance your communications

Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo put great value on accessible websites because they want to retain the value of their users’ search experience. The more accessible your website is, the higher it will be positioned in search engine results. And, of course, the result of higher search engine optimization (SEO) is a larger audience for your content, resulting in benefits to your reputation, communications and public relations efforts. Not sure how to get your website to the top? Contact us at accessibility@esolutionsgroup.ca and we can help. Whether there are investors looking for available lands in your community or tourists searching for information about an upcoming event, accessibility and SEO together give you a cost-effective solution that will get your message out there.

Improve user experience with accessible content

A website that is written with accessible content, including accessible hyperlinks, properly tagged headings and tables, images with alternative text (alt text) and captions on video content, can reach a wider audience. These accessibility techniques will enhance the user experience (UX) of your website. Whether an individual is using assistive technology or a mobile device, it will be easier for stakeholders to connect with your content and learn about the exciting things happening in your community. Is your website providing equal opportunity to all your stakeholders? If not, give us a shout at content@esolutionsgroup.ca to learn what accessible features can boost community engagement.

Attract attention with less effort

Whether your organization is focused on residential growth, expanding business investment or improving the quality of life for residents, promoting your community takes a lot of effort and eats up your budget. Digital solutions are a convenient and cost effective way to reach your entire community. In fact, in the past year, almost 75% of Canadians have accessed a government program or service online, and most people state they prefer this option to in-person, over the phone or by mail. That makes it all the more vital for your website to be accessible to everyone.

Looking to learn more about accessibility solutions? We offer a number of services and resources to help, including accessibility playbooks to help get your organization compliant by January 1, 2021. If you missed our February Speaker Series webinar “Are you ready for the AODA deadline?”, sign up to be notified if new sessions are added or contact us at accessibility@esolutionsgroup.ca to learn how we can help you.

 

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