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.


5 thoughts on “A new accessibility business case – good news?

  1. I think that the article posted demonstrates my long-held belief that many of the so-called “Business Case” arguments made by accessibility advocates don’t hold up to real scrutiny and that the best way to sell accessibility internally is to tie the message to the audience. I think Peter navigated this challenge well.

    1. Sure he did. Yet I still long for the day when we put a hand on a solid, indisputable business case where accessibility alone is a sufficient driver.
      My (deep-rooted, but subjective) opinion is that it *can* be. Extrapolating demographics alone gives a gut feeling of it. But studies really tackling the subject seem non-existent. Perhaps nobody felt the urge to measure this, or maybe those who pay for this kind of stuff are not aware of a potential issue here.
      It must be acknowledged, too, that scientifically testing the actual effect of “accessifying” a website is not so easy. First you have to make it accessible, and to compare its results with the previous one, serve it to users, through an A/B testing process for instance. But what you get, as a result, is an answer to: should I accessify my site? Well, since the job is already done, it’s become kinda useless to ask for it…
      Anyway, still waiting for the Ha11y Grail…

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