The Business Case for Web Accessibility
The information and resources on this page will help you to understand web and software accessibility. It will also give you the legal requirements and guidelines being used to define them. This will equip you to “make a case” for the reasons why your organization can benefit by working towards them.
Feel free to copy/paste/link this information to your organization’s emails, presentations, websites, and more, to support your business case for accessibility!
How Can Accessibility Benefit our Organization?
Accessible e-communication, such as a website, offers many benefits to your organization. Among them increasing consumer reach while cutting costs for your business. Here’s how:
- Broaden the reach of audience that can use the site
- Increase traffic to the website
- Expand potential market share
- Increase search ranking potential
- Improve the site and increase usability for all visitors
- Generate positive PR and brand awareness
- Demonstrate a commitment and care for people with disabilities
- Comply with legislation to reduce legal liabilities
- Protect the brand
- Standardize Web design, build and maintenance
- Cut overall production costs
The Legal Backdrop of Digital Accessibility
Legal liability is probably the most important reason organizations work to make their websites accessible. This section provides you with direct links to accessibility legislation, and the guidelines that are presently shaping it.
What is a law? A law is legal requirement.
What is a guideline? A guidelines is a suggestion and is not a legal requirement. It can sometimes be called a “best practice.”
LAW: What is Section 508?
[In] 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, open new opportunities for people with disabilities, and encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. ‘794 d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to access available to others.
WHY THIS LAW IS IMPORTANT: Government agencies, as well as businesses and organizations who receive any type of federal funding, must comply with Section 508 accessibility standards. These standards are measured and monitored through a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (or VPAT) that must be completed to demonstrate that a website, software or other electronic product, adhere’s to Section 508 criteria.
LAW: What is the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)?
The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA is a law that was enacted in the United States to protect the rights of people living with disabilities. Part of this law protects the right people living with disabilities have to access information through websites and electronic venues.
WHY THIS LAW IS IMPORTANT: All organizations operating in the US are subject to the requirements of the ADA, including private, nonprofit, for-profit and government.
ADA WEB ACCESSIBILITY RULES: The ADA is currently in transition to better define web accessibility under this law. The US Access Board has recommended that all organizations look to WCAG 2.0 (see below) until the final ADA web rules are released.
CURRENT NEWS REGARDING THE ADA WEBSITE ACCESSIBILITY RULES: The US Department of Justice has currently placed the Americans with Disabilities Act web rules on “inactive” status. However, many legal organizations feel that this delay is only temporary. It is prudent for organizations to continue to plan for the future. Reas more about this on WeCo’s blog.
GUIDELINE: What is the WCAG?
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG, are a set of guidance defined by the World Wide Web Consortium, with the goal of making online venues more accessible to everyone, regardless of their disabilities. WCAG contains levels 1.0, 2.0 and 2.1, with levels of accessibility within each rated as A, AA and AAA. (The more letters, the more extensive the criteria.)
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: WCAG version 1.0 has been adopted by the European Union. WCAG version 2.0 has been adopted by the United States Access Board. WCAG 2.0 has also been applied to the refresh of Section 508 and the US Access Board has hinted that a similar approach will be applied to the Americans with Disabilities Act web accessibility rules, once they are released.
DECEMBER 2017 UPDATE: WCAG 2.1 has recently been released for public review. Learn more about WCAG 2.1 on the Worldwide Web Consortium’s (W3C0 website.
Wondering how accessible your website or software really is?
Let WeCo review it FOR FREE! WeCo’s Accessibility Specialists can conduct a free Accessibility Needs Analysis of your website, software or document and provide you with an excellent starting base to determine where you are right now. We will even help you develop your next steps, all as part of our FREE introductory service!
Contact us for your free Accessibility Needs Analysis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-849-5050 x1
Sources to Help You Develop a Customized Business Case for Web Accessibility
- Case Studies of Accessibility Improvements
- Statistics on People with Disabilities and Web Use
- Accessibility Improving Search Engine Optimization
- Example for ROI calculations
- Cautionary Tales of Inaccessibility
- Promoting Accessibility
Case Studies of Accessibility Improvements
- Legal & General Group – doubled visitor numbers, cut maintenance costs by two thirds, increased natural search traffic by 50%. Read the Legal & General case study. (2007, UK)
- Tesco – £35 thousand GBP to build website, £13 million GBP per year in resultant revenue. Read the Tesco case study. (2004, UK)
- CNET – 30% increase in traffic from Google after CNET started providing transcripts (reported AST(.ppt)). We saw a significant increase in SEO referrals when we launched an HTML version of our site, the major component of which was our transcripts. – Justin Eckhouse, CNET, 2009.
Statistics on People with Disabilities and Web Use
Number of People Affected (statistics) Important information on statistics.
The Market for Accessible Technology – Example: Among US computer users in 2003 ranging from 18 to 64, 57% (74.2 million) are likely to directly or indirectly benefit from the use of accessible technology due to difficulties and impairments that may impact computer use.
Industry sector case studies: ecommerce – Example: 71% of people with disabilities in the UK use the Web to find information on goods and services.
Web Accessibility for Older Users Presentation and Web Accessibility for Older Users: A Literature Review – Example: number of people over 65 is increasing rapidly; in 2020 it is expected to be nearly 30% in Japan, 20% in Europe, and 16% in U.S.
Invite WeCo to your next meeting!
WeCo can speak at your onsite (depending on location/availability) or virtual meeting to help your decision makers learn more about, and explore, your accessibility needs. This service is free and can be extremely helpful in fostering understanding and solutions.
For more information about WeCo’s free speaking and consultation services, contact us at: email@example.com or 855-849-5050 x1.
Accessibility Improving Search Engine Optimization
- SEO and Accessibility Overlap – an article detailing many of the overlaps between accessibility guidelines and best practice for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
- Webmaster World Forum: General Search Engine Promotion and Marketing Issues – a lengthy thread discussing of the applicability of the WCAG 2.0 techniques documents to “on-page SEO.”
Example for ROI calculations
- Brinck, T. Return on Goodwill: Return on Investment for Accessibility . In Cost-Justifying Usability, Randolph G. Bias, Deborah J. Mayhew, eds. 2005. Example calculation gives a market increase of 8% and ROI of 2.4:1.
Cautionary Tales of Inaccessibility
When organizations do not make their websites accessible, they risk legal action and negative publicity, as the
case studies below illustrate.
Target Corporation – settlement for damages of $6 million USD and attorney’s fees and costs over $3.7 million after lawsuit by US National Federation of the Blind (NFB). Read the Target case study. (2008, USA)
Sydney Olympic Games – required to pay $20,000 AUD in damages due to poor accessibility. Read the Sydney Olympics case study. (2000, Australia)
Amex – “Bank upgrade is excluding blind. Visually impaired customers of American Express say they can no longer read their credit card statements online.” – headlines after making its statements less accessible in a format change. [BBC News ] (2008, UK)
Accessibility is a skill your staff can learn.
It is possible for your staff to learn techniques, and develop practices, to make your website, software and documents accessible. WeCo’s customized training options are delivered at your office, our training center, or via webinar, by WeCo’s Accessibility Specialists who live with one or more disability.
To learn more about WeCo’s Accessibility Training Services, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-849-5050 x1
Tips, guidance, and case studies on Promoting web accessibility.
This page is an appendix to:
Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization