I’m a survivor of two open-heart surgeries and affected by Loeys-Dietz syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that can cause people physical and cognitive disabilities as well as daily limitations. One of the points of concern in this body I have a love-hate relationship with – is that it’s constantly deteriorating. About two months ago, my greatest fear happened in real life. I temporarily went blind in my right eye.
Yep, no vision for 20 minutes in my right money-maker.
While this temporary experience thoroughly freaked me out, it also woke me up to how inaccessible most nonprofit brands, and websites, are in 2022. And while online accessibility may seem minor to able-bodied folks, there are a lot more people – and thus potential donors, followers and volunteers – affected than you may think!
According to the CDC, “62 million adults in the United States live with a disability. A disability is any condition of the body or mind (impairment) that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them (participation restrictions).”
Although almost all buildings in the United States have been made to be more accessible since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990, most of our modern “public spaces” or websites are still far from accessible. Issues with color use, readability, sizing, graphics, font legibility, navigation – these can shut the door on some folks trying to visit your website.
There are now digital standards for accessibility, with a whole litany of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards and requirements developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). These standards are constantly updated but rarely enforced. Sadly, they’re mostly used as a quick crash grab by companies looking to lay down an easy lawsuit and move on.
While DEI (diversity, equity & inclusion) is a popular topic – rightfully so – in mass media culture and business, digital accessibility for people with disabilities has been pushed to the backburner. Simply put, accessibility is empathy in action – ensuring that everyone can easily access and understand information, whether in-person or online.
If you’re concerned about the accessibility of your brand, here are three key areas to evaluate first so your brand is one step closer to legal (and social) compliance. These three aspects of your brand should be updated online first, since most people are visiting your nonprofit’s “digital home” before they ever walk into your offices or attend an event.
Designing for accessibility is no longer optional – and don’t assume that it takes the fun out of branding! Inclusive design doesn’t necessarily equate to safe, boring, or amateur styles. In fact, it might just lead to a better, cleaner, more iconic look for your nonprofit.
As nonprofit leaders, let’s show the way by building awesome brands that are also accessible for 20% of the world’s population affected by disabilities. We believe nonprofit brands can be both accessible and beautiful, especially when there’s a larger mission at stake.
Looking to make your website accessible ASAP?
If you’re looking to start with making your website accessible, we’ve partnered with an incredible platform called accessiBe that wants to make the internet accessible to everyone by 2025. Their accessWidget not only puts that happy little icon on your website, but it also simplifies and streamlines the process of becoming WCAG and ADA compliant using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and computer vision. Ready to find out how compliant your website is?