Your Best Dispensary Growth Tactic for 2021 is Web Accessibility

According to the World Wide Consortium (W3C) webaccessibility “means that tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. More specifically, people can:

  • perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web
  • contribute to the Web”

Disabilities that affect access to the web can be defined in 6 categories:

  • Visual
  • Cognitive
  • Neurological
  • Physical
  • Speech
  • Visual

What is Web Accessibility?

Web Accessibility affects both people with and without disabilities. The goal is to create an inclusive website so that people with permanent and temporary disabilities can access the internet. By creating inclusive websites we give access to people who may desperately need services that are essential for their health and well being.

Accessibility is the responsible option

In 2020, increased web use has highlighted the importance of accessibility. The number of people that are vulnerable to COVID-19 and are now isolated has risen dramatically. Tasks like filling prescriptions, buying groceries, or finding a new place to live are done with ease for fully-abled people online and offline. Public health concerns and increased isolation has shifted more shopping and buying decisions online. As a result, more people than ever before are relying on the internet to fill in the gaps for things that were previously done offline exposing a greater need for creating accessible inclusive online experiences. Whether a person has a permanent disability from birth, physical ailment, or traumatic incident; or their disability is temporary due to trauma or injury; the ability to experience the internet equally as a fully-abled user experience it can make a dramatic difference in the quality of life. A quick scan of your social circle and family can reveal a number of people who benefit from web accessibility.

My Uncle is getting older. Every year his glasses get a little thicker. Every year he and his patience get a little shorter. He’s thrifty and refuses to pay for high-speed internet, so if you use the wifi at his house your dinner will get cold waiting for the page to load. He recently complained that the pharmacy website will not load at his house. His solution? He drives down the street to the Green Siren coffee store to use their free wifi so that he can renew his prescriptions and pick them up at the pharmacy drive-thru twenty minutes in the opposite direction. This whole process was a simple 15 minute stop less than a year ago. Now it takes him two hours to complete.

Another family member cannot use a smartphone due to her rheumatoid arthritis, so she primarily uses a laptop when she needs to refill her medicinal marijuana supply. She lives on a farm where internet service can be inconsistent. Limited range of motion also requires her to navigate websites using her keyboard as she can no longer use the mouse and if the site takes more than a few seconds to load she will go to the next one. Now all of the sites that load for her are bookmarked, so she is very loyal to those companies not because they are the best or the most price competitive, but because she can use their websites.

Neither of them had a disability a few years ago, but aging catches up to all of us. When accessibility is available it gives people with disabilities the resources and freedom to live full and thriving lives independent of others. Whether a person is looking for a job, looking for a home, or simply reordering their medication having access to the internet equal to the fully-abled is not only the responsible action it is also legally required.

Accessibility benefits everyone

In 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed. The ADA requires businesses to make accommodations for people with disabilities. This applies to websites as they must be accessible by keyboard, screen readers, or other assistive technologies. For businesses it covers two classes or groups:

  • Title I: those that operate 20 or more weeks per year with at least 15 full-time employees
  • Title III: those that fall under the category of public accommodation
    • Public accommodation: means a facility operated by a private entity whose operations affect commerce and fall within at least one of the following categories:
      • Lodging
      • Restaurants & Bars
      • Sales and Rental Establishments
      • A laundromat, dry-cleaner, bank, barbershop, beauty shop, travel service, shoe repair service, funeral parlor, gas station, the office of an accountant or lawyer, pharmacy, insurance office, professional office of a health care provider, hospital, or other service establishments
      • A bakery, grocery store, clothing store, hardware store, shopping center, or other sales or rental establishment

The law covers every aspect of life. As a result, it sets a standard of responsible business that is attainable and demonstrates the values of inclusivity and equal opportunities for the company in a real and direct way to the public. Participation as a corporate citizen to make the world a more positive place for everybody shows in what you do and data is showing that the demand is growing.

Ignoring Accessibility is expensive

According to the 2016 Click Away Pound Report participants said:

  • 53% use some form of assistive technology, rising to 63% in 2019
  • 71% will simply leave a website and look elsewhere
  • 82% said they would spend more if websites were more accessible, rising to 86% in 2019
  • 75% of participants said accessibility is a higher priority than the price for the same product when making purchasing decisions

Read the full 2016 study “Click-Away Pound Report”Opens in new window

The CDC states that 1 out of 4 people has a diagnosed disability. According to the World Bank, 1 billion people have a disability. In the United States, four of the most common qualifying conditions for Medical Marijuana treatment are chronic pain, arthritis, epilepsy/seizures, and glaucoma. Additionally, there is a large segment of the population that has a disability that does not use assistive technology like dyslexia, color blindness, or age-related declining eyesight and motor skills. 15% of the world’s population has a disability and they have created a massive demand for access. Their needs have not gone ignored in the courts.

Accessibility lawsuits have risen in visibility and frequency. A few notable cases include:

Show your customers that you care about their needs. Being proactive about accessibility carries significant upside to any business. The investment is a fraction compared to the financial consequences of excluding people from your online storefront. Accessibility lawsuits are very damaging to small and medium-sized dispensaries. Simply adopting web accessibility as a company will help you gain access to a wider audience in the disabled community, improve your search rankings, increase conversions on your website, and future proof your website compliance.

Get a Solution to your Accessibility

Social Linus is here to provide dispensaries and MMJ Clinics with Fully Managed Maintenance with Accessibility, we call it Accessibility Plus, to help create an inclusive experience for your customers so that it will boost your website traffic, raise your search ranking, and grow brand loyalty while reducing the costs of hiring an in-house webmaster.

To learn more about how Social Linus and Accessibility Plus can help you maintain your website and WCAG compliance schedule a call today.

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