DIGITAL ACCESSIBILITY
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DIGITAL ACCESSIBILITY: inclusive technology makes good business sense

Associations that profess diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) must ensure digital accessibility. While many organizations are concerned with the cost of inclusive technology, data shows it makes good business sense. Digital accessibility increases opportunity and revenue for associations. As a result, membership organizations require a digital accessibility plan.

Business case

There are many business reasons for being digitally accessible. Three reasons for associations include attracting new members, member retention, and member engagement, which translates into increasing dues and non-dues revenue.

Digital accessibility attracts new members from generations many associations have difficulty reaching. For organizations to attract and retain Generation Z (Gen Z), DEI is now especially important. According to Michaela Jeffery-Morrison, CEO and co-founder of Ascend Global Media as well as a member of the Forbes Business Council (2023), DEI is crucial when showcasing your organization as an ideal cultural fit for Gen Z. Pew Research states, that 62% of Gen Zers support organizations that demonstrate increased diversity, expecting brands to take a stand on social issues (Jacobs, 2023). Gen Z holds organizations accountable for their diversity. Associations must demonstrate DEI with accessible digital technology, or they will miss out on attracting Gen Zers.

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Digital accessibility also enhances an organization’s search engine optimization (SEO). Enhanced SEO is critical to associations, being competitive for Gen Z and millennial membership opportunities. How these generations obtain information on their mobile devices, asking Siri, and Google, means if the association is not in the top three of the results, they are going to a competitor. Read this article for a deeper dive into that challenge and how SEO is a solution. (Click here). 

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the technical standard for web accessibility, conformance aligns with SEO Best practices. Implementing WCAG enhances the discoverability of your brand. Engagement Mobile Strategies recommends using WCAG as a mobile engagement strategy. By enhancing your SEO, your potential members will find you when they ask Siri or Google for information related to your association.

Implementing WCAG also improves member retention. Your organization will continue to serve an aging population. According to Level Access (2023), 20% of the population in the United States will be older than 65. Making the digital strategy (web, mobile app, software, etc.) accessible will allow associations to retain members as they age, extending the lifetime value of the member to the organization.

Level Access (2023)

Member engagement increases with digital accessibility. Accessibility guidelines, improve the user experience for all visitors, providing enhanced functionality, better layout, style, and design. Digital accessibility brings significant increases in customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention (AbleDocs, 2023). Members are increasingly evaluating an organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Providing digital accessibility demonstrates authentic brand values with which members want to be associated.

These are just a few of the benefits an association gains from providing accessibility. There are many more from avoiding legal risks (remember, accessibility is the law) to workplace benefits and many in between. However, just focusing on these three reasons, new members, member retention, and member engagement, all equate to additional revenues – dues, and non-dues. Managed properly, it can bring in significant revenues and return on investment (ROI). As a result, being accessible is good for an association’s brand, and it’s also good for business.

What to look out for

There are numerous accessibility providers which can make it intimidating to get started. They offer various levels of service and support. Some provide automated scanning capabilities only. Others rely on technology to try and fix the identified issues. Examples include:

  • Overlays
  • Automated scanners

Some have consultants to provide deeper evaluations. However, a consultant-only approach is not comprehensive and expensive. 

Tools, technology, training, and expert consultation are needed for a complete full-service solution, combining automated tools and software with services. As a result, an organization achieves the best technical and service level support, which directly impacts its success through the accessibility of its digital assets.

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What’s next

Reach out to an accessibility consultant that has a comprehensive software and services approach. If you don’t know who these companies are, ask your current technology consultant. What is most important, though, get started. Associations, not meeting these accessibility needs, will find their membership withering. Adding digital accessibility increases membership, member, retention, and member engagement. Start now because it makes good business sense.

J. Mark Wallach, MBA, is the CEO Emeritus of Engagement Mobile Strategies, a consulting agency committed to associations increasing member engagement, member retention, and non-dues revenue through mobile technology selection, strategy, and implementation.

Visit engagementmobile.com for more information about member engagement and mobile technology.

References

AbleDocs (2023). Why digital accessibility is a must in today’s corporate world.

Jacobs, K. (2023). Omnicom’s Soon Mee Kim on the Future of DE&I. Public Relations Strategies & Tactics6(3), 17.

Jeffery-Morrison, M. (2023). Attracting And Retaining Gen-Z Through Diversity And Inclusion, Forbes Business Council

Level Access (2023). Why Digital Accessibility? 

Additional photo credits

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