Out in the real world, you’re used to seeing ramps and elevators to provide accessible alternatives to stairs and escalators. You’ve likely touched the Braille characters on elevator buttons or heard the pedestrian traffic lights chirp when it’s safe to cross.
These accessibility best practices make it easier for people with disabilities to navigate public and private spaces independently.
But what about digital spaces that rely heavily on audio-visual content? Have you ever wondered how easily your shareholders can navigate your investor relations website?
The investor relations consulting experts at Q4 want you to think about this question carefully. As the professionals behind Q4 investor relations success platform, these professionals have an accessible suite of IR tools that helps IPOs and public companies communicate their brand with the greatest number of investors.
An accessible IR website is one of those tools that can ensure visibility at such a volatile moment in the market. Without one, your IR site may be riddled with invisible barriers that make it hard or impossible for disabled investors to investigate your brand or buy stocks.
What is Digital Accessibility?
Digital accessibility refers to policies and products that ensure all users have an equivalent online experience, no matter their disability or access to technology.
Much like the accessibility ramps you see in public spaces, digital accessibility features address and solve obstacles that make it challenging for people with disabilities to navigate devices, apps, or the Internet at large.
The World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) establishes standards and guidelines for accessible websites. Its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) sets wide-sweeping best practices for making digital content more accessible by accommodating the following disabilities:
- Cognitive limitations
- Hearing Loss
- Learning disabilities
- Limited movement
- Low vision
- Speech disabilities
Is the Internet a Disability-Friendly Place?
Digital accessibility is a growing trend in the virtual landscape as the pandemic pushes more experiences online than ever before. Your investor conferences, educational webcasts, and roundtables are happening over screens rather than in conference centers.
Unfortunately, the great migration to digital spaces has some catch-up to play with accessibility.
As the Internet has evolved, so too has design and browsing standards — but not always for the better. While the average website has grown leaps and bounds from the old Angelfire websites of yesteryear, today’s Internet is unwelcoming to the lion’s share of browsers.
For most, this new normal is annoying. But for those with disabilities, these barriers may pose an insurmountable hurdle. Unexpected pop-ups interfere with keyboard navigation, cause screen readers to glitch, and cause problems for people with low vision.
Why is Inclusivity Important for Your Investor Relations Website?
Besides being the right thing to do, creating an accessible IR website is a good business decision. Here are some reasons why you should upgrade your site soon.
Your IR Website is the #1 Trusted Source of Information
Your website is one of the most important investor relations platforms today. It’s the most used and most trusted source of information for investors, surpassing traditional news sources such as Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal.
With most investors visiting your site to research your value and make investment decisions, it’s mission-critical your site is ready for all visitors.
About 1.3 billion people around the world have disabilities. In North America, that translates to about 20 percent of adults living with some kind of disability.
That’s one in five people who may face challenges viewing your website.
Altogether, people with disabilities represent an enormous audience of capital markets. You stand to lose out on these opportunities if you don’t adjust your content and site architecture to reflect their needs.
Just how much do you stand to lose? A new study by Nucleus Research reveals a whopping 70 percent of sites are inaccessible to people with vision impairments. Two out of every three transactions are abandoned, resulting in a $6.9 billion loss for online retailers with accessibility issues.
Continued Use of Virtual Spaces
As mentioned above, the pandemic has ushered a seismic shift to digital spaces, fast-tracking the adoption of digital technologies. Rolling lockdowns and continued social distancing measures made it impossible to assemble under one roof safely for the better part of the last two years.
After all that time, many people have grown comfortable relying on technology for most of their investment decisions. Digital engagement is critical now, even as public health restrictions lift.
Having an accessible IR website is non-negotiable, especially as you host capital markets virtual events, hybrid investor conferences, and online webcasting. A well-designed site can support these digital engagements, ensuring your brand resonates with a diverse audience.
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Simple Errors Could Be Making Your Site Inaccessible
For those who live without disabilities, you may be unaware that small design choices can create enormous obstacles.
Here are some examples of mistakes you can easily avoid:
- Text Size: Any text smaller than 12 point (or 16 pixels) may not be large enough for visitors with low vision. Your font also needs to be scalable by 200 percent to retain clarity if a visitor zooms in.
- Low Contrast Text: Grey text on a white background might look slick, but it can make your branding and financials hard to see. For the most clarity, you need to choose a text-to-background contrast ratio of 4.5:1. Good, old-fashioned black text over a white page has a strong ratio of 21:1
- A/V Content with No Transcripts: Audio should always be accompanied by on-screen captions for your deaf or Hard of Hearing visitors. For the best results, this script should be available on your site later.
- Symbols without Text: The three horizontal lines that symbolize the menu on many sites nowadays represents a common cognitive barrier. If you don’t understand the sign, you’re left out. These icons always need accompanying text that describes a button’s function.
- Pop-ups and Overlays: Call-to-action modals can trap visitors using keyboard support or limit how much content they can see if you don’t design your site with motor barriers in mind.
How Can You Create an Accessible IR Website?
Accessibility is a marathon, not a sprint. You won’t create a perfectly inclusive website for every single visitor overnight. However, you can work towards greater accessibility that improves overall usability.
Look to the WCAG for guidance when it comes to standards for design and development. These best practices outline the features your site should adopt. Your investor relations consulting firm should also follow these guidelines when providing you with an IR site template.
The top firms address common issues so that you can update your site faster.