Alice Bartlett: What is the business case for accessibility?

Orde Saunders' avatarPublished: by Orde Saunders

Alice Bartlett was talkning about the business case for accessibility at Resposnsiv Conf, these are my notes from her talk.

Asking what the business case is isn't a bad question.  Need a business case as well as the moral case.

Gov.uk - 19 million visits a week.  More than tumblr.  Hasn't always been accessible - the alpha was terrible for accessibility, it was a tool to get buy-in but got a massive kicking from users.  The beta was built for inclusion, easy to use and accessibility - if you build a11y in from the start it's much easier.  It's now built in from the start of everything and research is done with users.

What is a11y

  • visual
  • hearing
  • motor
  • cognitive

This is a problematic way of talking about a11y - we should reframe it not in terms of what people lack but what we provide.  We should make our site accessible with as many inputs and outputs as possible.

A11y needs can be temporary - environment.

Business case for a11y

A business case should identify a problem and outline a cost effective solution:  "We should solve X by improving the a11y of our site."  However, there is very little evidence for a11y being the most cost effective solution, it's a good idea but it's just not clear. 

Possibly the best is the threat of litigation - the Equality act 2010.  Beyond descrimination, anticipate the needs of users.  Public bodies are also bound by further regulations. 

Cost of getting sued vs. cost of making it accessible.  (RNIB is suing DWP.)  Less of a risk for small companies, there's no eivdence that there's an ROI for making a site accessible.

You don't need a business case

Why wouldn't you build a site that's accessible.  Add it to the list of things that you do - just do it.  It's the right thing to do.  When a11y becomes part of what you do it is free.

Start today.  Make small changes.  It will become part of how you work.