Do you understand the need for accessibility, but aren’t sure how to present it to your organization’s leadership and/or decision makers? The information on this page can help you make a business case for accessibility. We have provided a number of great resources you can copy, paste and link into presentations, onto website and more. They include:
- Access to case studies and statistics to support your business case
- A “quick list” summary of the benefits that come with accessible websites/documents/software/mobile applications
Accessibility Benefits “Quick List”
- Facts on how accessibility improves search engine optimization (SEO)
- A calculation formula to determine the ROI on website accessibility
- Information about the legal issues that come with inaccessibility
- Cautionary tales of historic and recent lawsuits
Accessible websites, documents, software and mobile applications can:
- Broaden the reach of audiences that can use them
- 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. You will find a link to all current US and international accessibility laws and guidelines in WeCo’s Free Accessibility Library.
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.” Guidelines can sometimes be applied to laws. That is where you may notice that the two overlap.
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 has not defined specifically what website/software/document or mobile application access is. In 2017, new website rules were to be released to help clarify this. However, on December 27th, 2017 the US Department of Justice withdrew the new web rules. 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: As of December 27, 2017, the US Department of Justice has currently “withdrawn” the Americans with Disabilities Act web rules. As such an action has never happened before, it’s difficult to know what this means. Here’s what we do know:
- Lawsuits related to the Americans with Disabilities Act continue to be filed and move forward in the court system
- The US Access Board recommends that organizations “look to WCAG 2.0 AA” in the absence of ADA web rules
- Many organizations understand the need to make their websites accessible, in order to remain competitive amid an aging population, and are taken action to do so
- As of June 2018, bi-partisan member of Congress began to request that the Department of Justice release the web rules as the lack of clarity is prompting on uptick in website accessibility lawsuits
To learn more about how other organizations, and the accessibility industry, is responding to the withdrawal of the ADA web rules, read WeCo’s blog entry on the topic.
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 adoed 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.
The next version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG, version 2.1, were released in June 2018. It’s important to note that WCAG 2.1 has NOT been adopted into the laws governing accessibility in the US. However, many organizations are following this updated version, as a business best practice.
How accessible are we right now?
WeCo offers a FREE Accessibility Review to help you understand what you’re doing well, and where your risk lies in regards to accessibility.
The free review includes feedback from our Testers, and guidance from Accessibility Specialists, all of whom live with disabilities.
Follow the link above to complete our form, or contact us directly at: email@example.com or 855-489-5050 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
- Cautionary Tales of Inaccessibility
- The Spending Power of Americans with Disabilities
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 Website 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.
National Center for Business Journalism, 9-25-2018
Americans with disabilities are often overlooked for their purchasing power. According to a 2010 report from the U.S. Census Bureau, one in five Americans have a disability. That number equates to nearly 51.2 million Americans in 2015 with a disability. What’s more is that businesses can tap into this market providing products and services for people with disabilities.
The U.S. Department of Labor also found that Americans with disabilities have $175 billion in discretionary spending. These numbers illustrate how businesses can benefit by catering to people living with disabilities.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.com or 855-849-5050 x1
This link will take you to W3C’s information on Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization