A common argument against accessibility is that working out the return on investment is too difficult. But we’ve collected examples that show investment in accessibility is good for business. From boosting sales by increasing market reach to enhancing SEO strategy.

Building accessibility into your online services and apps offers the following business benefits:

Accessibility can improve Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a process that helps make webpages more visible in search engines. Like Google. Sitting higher up the search results page has lots of benefits. It means a larger number and better quality of visitors are likely to click on your website.

Best practice techniques for web accessibility complement SEO strategy. These accessibility best practices all help in search optimisation:

  • a logical heading structure (correct use of H1, H2s)
  • using descriptive alt-text for images
  • writing descriptive link text
  • adding captions to videos

Why content accessibility is good for SEO

Case Study: The NHS

The NHS underwent a massive digital overhaul to its platforms in 2016. The existing NHS Digital websites covered more than 400 services. They were difficult to use and lacked cohesion. Information was difficult to find because of:

  • poor navigation
  • an excess of text, links and technical written content

Screenshot of the new NHS Digital website showing search bar as the main content header, sub-headings in short paragraphs with clear buttons, and latest publications at the bottom with 3 links.

The new website was run by The Government Digital Service. It reduced the amount of time users spent on a web page before they found the information they needed.

The NHS built a website which was easier to use with:

  • clearer written content
  • simpler interface
  • the number of pdfs reduced from 12,000 to a few hundred
  • removal of banner ads

Pages with AAA accessibility ratings (the highest level) rose from 53% in April 2018 to 98% in October 2019.

The results:

  • daily users went from 15,000 to 26,000
  • reduced average time spent on page

How web accessibility fixes helped NHS double its online traffic in 2 years

Case Study: Legal & General Group

Legal & General are a financial service provider. They conducted an accessibility audit of their website in 2005. They identified and addressed the existing issues through user testing with disabled people.

Legal & General developed a new website. This successfully passed accessibility audits and UX testing.

The results:

  • Organic search traffic increased by 25% in the first 24 hours after launch. This eventually grew to 50%.
  • Page loading times reduced by 75%
  • Annual site maintenance savings of £200,000
  • Staff time spent managing content reduced from 5 days to half a day per job
  • 100% return on investment (ROI) in 12 months

Legal & General Group’s success with this case study (W3C)

Case Study: This American Life radio show

This American Life is a weekly public radio show. It broadcasts to more than 500 US radio stations, with 2.1 million listeners worldwide. In response to new broadcast media regulations in 2011, they began to create audio transcripts of its archive. This included recorded radio programs going back to 1995.

Screenshot of radio show This American Life's website interface, previewing a transcript of the show which can be accessed online.
Image courtesy of 3Play Media

They posted each transcript as a separate web page. And they added extra information about each program. Media partner 3Play Media ran a study into the benefits over a 2 year period.

Line graph showing the SEO impact of transcription over a 36 month period. Monthly unique visitors increase over time as the number of transcripts posted increase.
Image: 3Play Media

The results:

  • People who are deaf or have hearing loss were able to access content
  • Better comprehension for people with English as their second language
  • Web content allows transcripts to be translated into multiple languages
  • Organic search traffic increased by 6.68%
  • Unique visitors to the site increased by 4.2%
  • More than 7% of website visitors engaged with transcripts
  • 89% increase in inbound links (directly attributable to the transcript pages)

This American Life’s transcript success accessibility case study (W3C).

Many organisations are waking up to the fact that embracing accessibility leads to multiple benefits – reducing legal risks, strengthening brand presence, improving customer experience and colleague productivity.

Paul Smyth, Head of Digital Accessibility, Barclays

Prioritising accessibility benefits your brand

People want to buy from companies they feel care about them. Brands which care or matter to us generate much higher KPIs.

Source: Havas’ Meaningful Brands study.

Caring about customers beyond Corporate Social Responsibility makes business sense.

63% of consumers prefer to buy products and services from companies that stand for a purpose. Especially companies that reflect their own values and beliefs. And avoiding companies that do not.

Accenture research

Case Study: Apple

Engineers at Apple have been accessibility innovators since the company began. They’re known for pioneering features like VoiceOver and Braille display. They are widely regarded as the best in the industry for building accessibility into all their products.

Apple has done more for accessibility than any other company to date, and we have duly recognized this by presenting the company with at least two awards and publicly praising it whenever the opportunity arises.

Mark A. Riccobono, National Federation of the Blind

Case Study: Microsoft

Microsoft launched its Xbox Adaptive Controller in 2018. This had much applause from the disabled community. They’ve made a visible commitment to accessibility and assistive technology for decades. Innovations like:

  • Sticky Keys
  • Seeing AI
  • Eye Control on Windows 10
  • Translator
  • Soundscape

These innovations have helped Microsoft earn the respect of the disabled community.

Improving accessibility can boost sales

Around 14 million people in the UK (20% of the population) are disabled. Scale that up to 15% of the global population if you’re an international brand. If you meet the needs of people excluded from your online services, by nature you increase your market reach.

Case Study: Tesco

Tesco was one of the first to enter the online grocery market. Early on they wanted to make Tesco.com was accessible. And therefore serving every possible customer.

In 2001, Tesco worked with the RNIB on Tesco.com. Together they made the home grocery service more accessible to blind customers. They did this by launching a separate new site as an accessible alternative. This site was thoroughly tested by more than 70 blind and partially sighted people.

Tesco built a faster version of the website with:

  • more intuitive navigation structure (previously unusable with screen reader)
  • clear descriptive link text
  • simpler language
  • fewer images, decreasing the time it takes a webpage to load

Tesco discovered that sighted customers found it easier to use this new interface. And shortly after built accessibility into all its online services.

The results:

  • revenue from online sales increased to £13 million annually
  • pre-Christmas orders increased to 700,000 per week. This was compared to 28,000 deliveries per average week in 2000. And 70,000 per week in 2001.
  • Tesco.com sales went from £52 million in 2000 to £235 million in 2001*

Tesco.com accessibility case study from (W3C)

*data from Tesco PLC Annual Review 2000 and 2001.

Being accessible can still make you a market leader today

WebAIM’s study found that 98% of all top websites failed basic web accessibility standards in 2019. That means having accessible services can give your business a competitive edge.

More and more organisations are becoming aware of web accessibility benefits. But also consider the legal responsibility of making your digital services inclusive.

Prepare before disability legislation in the UK starts to follow US policymakers. ADA Web Accessibility lawsuits were filed at a rate of 1 an hour throughout 2019. According to a report by UsableNet.

Including accessibility across your business strategy can have many benefits. Reaching a wider audience, improved income, legal compliance, and brand loyalty. So the sooner you prioritise accessibility, the earlier you’ll get the rewards.

Related services

If you want to become more accessible, Scope offers inclusion services to businesses.

Introduction to accessibility
Content accessibility training
Bespoke content accessibility training