Accessibility for Individuals, Businesses, Society
It has long been goal for the Internet Architects to make all our websites accessible in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with diverse abilities. Access to information and communications technologies, including the Web, is defined as a basic human right in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). The Internet Architects have made it a mission to include this facility in all websites we create for our clients.
The Business Case for Website Accessibility
All business whether they are government agencies, private businesses and corporations or non-profits require a business case to allocate resources to such an endeavor. To build a case both action and inaction benefits and risks should be considered. The following are essential items that should be covered when generating a case for accessibility for websites.
- Market Reach
- Brand Enhancement
- Reduced Legal Liability
Probably the easiest to prove beneficial to the organisation is the increased market reach and the backup data available to drive the initiative.
In the UK this is commonly known as the ‘Purple Pound’, with families with disabilities spend over $249 Billion per year, with the US spending over $200 Billion per year. The global spending estimate of disability market is $7 Trillion per year. This is a missing revenue stream of many companies throughout the worlds simply because their websites do not cater for this feature.
Website accessibility not only enables up to now inaccessibility to the disability market , but enhanced access to all customers. Examples of this are shown below:
- Everyone using smart phones, smart watches, smart TV’s.
- People with temporary disabilities such as broken limbs etc
- Customers with slow or reduced bandwidth connections.
Overall globally, the extended market is estimated at 2.3 billion people who control an incremental $6.9 trillion in annual disposable income. Something that every company should consider seriously when creating a business case for website accessibility.
A innovative approach to implementing accessibility to their websites clearly demonstrates commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with actionable programs. These accessibility programs not only cement CSR engagement but also enhance and protect brand image and reputation, increase sales and customer loyalty (as shown above) and increased diverse employment.
Reduced Legal Liabilities
Consideration of the cost and risk of inaction is a critical aspect of any business case. As web use is woven into modern life all over the world, governments and regulators began to mandate laws and policies that strengthen the rights of people with disabilities to participate in online digital information and services. This has been actioned in various degrees worldwide.
One of the first legal cases of accessibility inaction was in 2000 when a complaint against the Sydney Olympics website was made to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission. The courts found in favor to the plaintiff. This resulted in various acts of law coming into force over the next few years.
- The Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) is a comprehensive human rights document that includes a direct reference to the rights of all people to have equal access to communications technology. Passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations, more than 175 countries ratified it by 2018.
- The European Commission adopted the European Accessibility Act, requiring ATMs and banking services, PCs, telephones and TV equipment, telephony and audiovisual services, transport, e-books, and e-commerce meet accessibility requirements.
- In the US, the number of legal actions continues to rise and courts increasingly decide in favor of equal access23, often citing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Structured Negotiation is another way that legal pressure is effective, encouraging companies to meet accessibility requirements while avoiding litigation.
- Norway now makes it illegal for commercial companies not to provide equivalent access for people with disabilities.
- Austria has had customer protection regulation in place since 2006 requiring most public websites to meet accessibility standards.
With legal risks increasing, smart businesses – particularly those with global activities – are creating accessibility policies and programs to mitigate risk to protect both their assets and their reputations.