A new accessibility business case – good news?

The WAI-Engage group has published, on its wiki, an article written by Peter Thiessen: Social Networking Application Business Case.The story is worth a read. But if you don’t have time: in short, it describes the hard path towards building a business case for accessibility. The author is a convinced advocate, but he struggled with his management while trying to prove a ROI for accessibility improvements.

Although he finally succeeded, I’m, personally, a tad disappointed by the fact that it took kind of a workaround: accessibility was sold through mobile development. All purely accessibility-related arguments were rejected, and only when it was paralleled with mobile adaptations, approval was won.

Which is not totally surprising… but it saddens me to observe that, even with considerable effort, it was not possible to prove that accessibility pays for itself – which I’m deeply convinced of.

I would argue that the problem was not the case in itself, but the lack of documentation to back up the assumptions made to support the arguments. We need more solid facts, believable and demonstrable figures, and realistic success stories.

So, in conclusion, we certainly must celebrate the fact that a high profile social networking company embraces accessibility as a business goal. But it’s still not the bullet-proof business case that demonstrates that accessibility, by itself, is a worthwhile investment.