3 Simple Ways Insurance Brands Can Improve Accessibility
Millions of people with disabilities have trouble accessing critical information online due to significant content and technology barriers. Digital accessibility leader Allyable describes three steps insurance companies can take to be more accessible.
Today, more than ever, it is vitA11y important for businesses in all industries to prioritize the accessibility of their websites and digital content for consumers who live with a wide range of disabilities. This population often requires special accommodations to access and understand the proper life, health, property, automotive, and long-term care insurance coverages available to them, yet far too many barriers still exist on the internet.
At least 95% of the leading websites worldwide are not compliant with accessibility standards such as the international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which provide a foundation for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 in the United States, EN-301-549 in the European Union, AODA in Canada, and many other countries.
How can consumer-facing insurance companies make their online presence more accessible? It may seem overwhelming, but the experts at Allyable make it simple. In this article, we recommend three simple ways to improve web accessibility.
Why Accessible Websites are Important
The United Nations estimates that over 1.85 billion people—23% of the world’s population—live with some form of disability, such as auditory, cognitive, physical, speech, and visual challenges. Not only does this huge emerging market, which is larger than China, have $1.9 trillion in annual disposable income, but it influences a total of $13 trillion of disposable income each year when family and friends are included—representing an astonishing 66% of the global population.
In the United States, there are 61 million adults, representing 26% of the population over age 18, with at least one disability; nearly half are people over age 75 with age-related issues. This chart from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) breaks down the prevalence of disabilities by category in the U.S.:
People with disabilities must often overcome tremendous hurdles to access critical information online about their insurance coverage or to obtain accurate quotes. For example, customers with low vision or blindness using screen reader technology may find themselves shut out of certain functions. Website visitors with severe hearing loss may not be able to understand an explainer video if it does not include the option to select closed captioning. Even someone on short-term disability benefits who is recovering from an accident may have trouble using a computer mouse or trackpad and must rely on keyboard navigation functions instead.
Conforming to legal regulations for accessibility will not only help disabled consumers research and secure adequate coverage, but will also reduce the prevalence of interrupted website visits—statistics show that ⅔ of shopping carts are abandoned by consumers with visual impairments who cannot complete their online transactions due to screen reader incompatibility or other compliance barriers.
Another important consideration is that ADA and WCAG conformance protects insurance companies from litigation. Accessibility lawsuits, which are tripling each year, can end up being very expensive, both financiA11y and publicity-wise. While a majority of defendants have been retail, e-commerce, restaurants, and hospitality websites, a growing number of service-based businesses are now being targeted, including those in the insurance industry. What’s more, many non-compliant companies have been sued more than once for the same violations, either by multiple plaintiffs or for various different online properties (website, app, etc.).
Three Ways to Improve Your Accessibility
How can you make your insurance website and assets accessible for customers who have mobility, cognitive, auditory, speech, visual, neurological, and age-related disabilities? The digital accessibility team at Allyable recommends this three-step approach:
- Assessment – Test your website and other digital assets for ADA/WCAG compliance
- Remediation – Address A and AA accessibility violations automaticA11y and manuA11y
- Development – Build new assets with accessibility in mind using technology
Testing for WCAG Compliance
In the past, violations of accessibility guidelines meant that the source code of websites and other content had to be manuA11y reviewed and tested by programmers. Today, this process can now be accomplished much faster and easier with automated scanning software that quickly identifies and audits WCAG compliance errors. Some programs even sort these violations into several categories: WCAG Version 2.0 A and AA and Version 2.1 A, AA, and AAA levels (minimum, recommended, and high), flagging and organizing them for efficient remediation.
Remediating Accessibility Violations
Once those compliance errors have been identified by category, they need to be corrected. Again, technology comes to the rescue! Although some issues still need to be addressed manuA11y, such as adding video captions or providing descriptive alternative text for specific images, other common errors can be automaticA11y fixed, saving you time, effort, and money.
For the best results, look for a solution that provides 24/7 continuous monitoring, advanced artificial intelligence (AI), and image processing to consistently correct most identified and repeated errors automaticA11y, in addition to no-code wizards that simplify the manual remediation process, allowing insurance web developers to easily fix a wide range of internet and intranet digital assets with reliable consistency and accuracy. You should also ensure that any remediation software program you use integrates with your existing processes, project management software, and support systems.
Developing with Accessibility in Mind
For organizations who are building new internet or intranet assets from scratch, it is far easier and cost-effective to integrate accessibility from the very start, rather than as an afterthought. This allows digital creators to develop assets with accessibility in mind and meet compliance guidelines in the design phase.
The most important consideration is using a secure and simple method to debug, audit, update, and maintain your digital assets, in order to make them accessible to users with and without disabilities. You’ll want a pre-production mode that lets your internal team test the accessibility of your assets before going live. The best developer tools also enable identification, reporting, and manual remediation of accessibility violations, directly from the browser, with real-time, wizard-based digital accessibility training, and integrate fully with your existing CI/CD platforms.
What’s Your Next Step for Accessibility?
Some insurance companies have chosen to address compliance testing, remediation, and development in-house, by assigning dedicated employees to this task, which may keep them from performing their regular responsibilities. Others have outsourced to a third-party service provider, which can often be costly and time-consuming.
More recently, many insurers have turned to Allyable for a fast, easy, and affordable digital accessibility compliance solution that addresses all three critical areas of focus discussed above.
Using our advanced, cutting-edge technology has successfully set them on the path to creating more accessible digital assets, while saving time, effort, and money. They also find that by addressing accessibility for their customers with disabilities, their SEO rankings have dramaticA11y improved as well, boosting their performance and bottom line.
As an award-winning, ISO 27001-certified technology company, Allyable is committed to keeping our clients’ valuable data 100% secure and confidential. Our processes comply with all global privacy regulations, including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the U.S. Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the State of California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Explore how Allyable can help your insurance brand achieve digital accessibility compliance in three simple steps. We invite you to schedule a complimentary walk-through of your website with a member of our team.