Cost-Effectiveness of Accessibility

Last week I talked at a geek meeting about the cost-effectiveness of accessibility. Inspired by Dave Wilton’s talk at the European Accessibility Forum about their most impressive redesign of the Legal & General website, I decided to do some research and adopt it to the German market.

The presentation is now available for download in English or German under a Creative Commons license, so you can re-use material as long as you quote me.

Let’s face it: all of us have heard the phrase “blind people are not our target group,” either from clients or colleagues. There are a few noble souls who actually care about other people’s needs, but business is mostly about money.

So I explained how businesses lose money by ignoring accessibility. Because accessibility is not only about blind people: it’s about color blind, about old people, young people with learning disabilities, or people who are not fluent in a language. Fundamentalists will deny, but there’s also a close relation to device independence.

You may decide to ignore “a few disabled,” but you cannot ignore half of the population: accessibility is becoming a social and economic imperative.

7 Responses to ‘Cost-Effectiveness of Accessibility’

  1. /T

    Schön. Aber:

    Das Problem ist nur dass die Zahlen aus England, vorsichtig ausgedrückt, frisiert sind. Die internen Hochrechnungen von L&G als solche mögen ja stimmen, aber sie basieren meines Wissens nach auf Zahlen der britischen Disability Rights Commission. Dort hat man kurzerhand die Zahlen aufgehübscht, indem 7 Millionen potentielle Nutzer, die keine schweren Gegenstände heben können (Maus?) und 1,6 Millionen Nutzer mit Inkontinenz (Session Timeout beim Pullern?) hinzugerechnet wurden. Wenn man solche Lächerlichkeiten rausrechnet, dann sehen die Zahlen nicht mehr ganz so gut aus.

    … 50+: 31,8 Mio. (39%), Tendenz steigend – Schrift vergrößern…

    Das alte Märchen, dass alle Sehbehinderten und alle älteren Nutzer stark vergrößerte Schrift. brauchen. Skalierbare Schrift ok, aber generell größere Schrift ist falsch (->Altersweitsichtigkeit, Retinopathia pigmentosa, etc.)

    … PISA 2003 unterste Kompetenzstufe Lesen oder darunter: 22,3% …

    Was ist denn unter der untersten Kompetenzstufe? Negative Werte?

    … Schulabgänger 2005 ohne mittlere Reife: 33% …

    Ein Hauptschulabschluß (Folie 5) ist keine Behinderung im Sinne des Bundesbehindertengleichstellungsgesetztes. Gleiches gilt für den Erwerb eines 7er BMW (Folie 6).

  2. /T

    … but you can’t deny that some of them would benefit from simple language …

    The difference being that they can in fact change their condition whereas PwDs can’t.

    And the technical requirements are similar, no matter if JAWS or your 7 series BMW reads web pages.

    And I couldn’t disagree more.

  3. Martin Kliehm

    And I couldn’t disagree more.

    “Technical” as in “machine readable code,” not like a similar user interface.

  4. Martin Kliehm

    Tomas pointed out that in L&G’s calculation 9 million British with disabilities out of a population of 60 million is slightly exaggerated. I agree, that’s why I searched for numbers of severely disabled within the working age population. In Germany those are about 3 million out of 82 million, that’s more reasonable.

    Also I didn’t want to imply that all older users need enlarged text, but rather the option to enlarge text.

    Of course leaving school before secondary level is no disability, but you can’t deny that some of them would benefit from simple language. And the technical requirements are similar, no matter if JAWS or your 7 series BMW reads web pages. ;)

  5. /T

    First of all: “Thou shalt not surf the web while on the Autobahn”

    Next, you are again confusing the concepts of universality (rest assured, there is no such thing) and interoperability with the needs of disabled users. This may be machine-readable code (well, what isn’t?), but you’re not saying that every accessible website should look just like that, aren’t you?

    Call it availability or whatever, but please do not call the needs of a 7 series BMW an accessibility issue. Accessibility is about people with disabilities, not about fancy machines and expensive toys.

  6. Martin Kliehm

    Tomas, I understand your point from a moral standpoint. Alas clients do not ask me how much karma they earn by keeping a website accessible. They ask how much it costs and who will benefit from it. I do not intend to confuse the concepts of accessibility and device independence, but when a website is accessible, I’m halfway done for mobile access, too.

    Would you say access for people with disabilities is more important than mobile access? How about countries where most people do not have desktop access? Should a website exclude people with poor reading abilities just because that doesn’t count as a handicap? How discriminating and chauvinistic is that?

    So instead of stressing the differences, I rather look for related or common elements, the big picture. I think that’s how progress can be made.

  7. Martin Kliehm

    Now speech recognition will be built into Fords too, as a joint venture with Microsoft. It’s a common trend, not just an expensive toy for the rich. And it will come out of Cologne, if that does comfort you as a local patriot. ;-)