I’m often asked to create the business case for building accessibility in to your web process. Most organizations are very responsive when I explain the benefits of universal design, the crossover between accessibility and usability, as well as accessibility and mobile design. By the time I explain the search engine optimization benefits, they are often salivating and ready to commit to accessibility. But, what happens when I’m working with a company that is inaccessible but already has decent SEO? I remind them that the litigation risks are real and the cost of retrofitting for accessibility is significantly higher than designing with accessibility in mind from the beginning. The thoughts I want etched into their minds are:

  1. Not Creating an Accessibile Web Site Today is Like Consciously Deciding to Not Pay Your Taxes – the penalties when you get caught (and you will get caught) will be far greater than the cost of building accessibility into your design in the first place. Penalties include:
    • Legal fees
    • Legal fines and/or settlement payments
    • Employee time spent responding to lawsuit information requests
    • Cost of retrofitting accessibility into your site
    • Brand damage
  2. Design with Accessibility in Mind – it is a fact that building accessibility in at the beginning of the design process is far more cost effective than retrofitting for accessibility. Accessibility experts estimate that the cost of developing sites that meet WCAG 2.0 AA increases development costs by the following:
    • 1% to 3% on simple sites built with html and css (and little to no javascript)
    • 3% to 6% on intermediate sites built with html, css and an intermediate level of javascript
    • 6% to 10% on heavy javascript sites or flash sites

    Compare these costs to the retrofitting costs which consistently come in as 2 to 3 times more. So, for a simple site, retrofitting will cost (1% to 3%) * 2 {if you are lucky} or (1% to 3%) * 3. Pay a little now, or pay a lot later.

  3. The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed on July 26, 1990 – more than 20 years ago the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became the first-ever civil rights law for people with disabilities. It is wrong to deny equal access to the web (a place of public accommodation). When you consciously choose to have an inaccessible web presence, you are guilty of discrimination.

Year ago people stood up for my right to vote as a woman. Today, I have the opportunity to help create a barrier free web so that all people, regardless of abilities, can have equal access.

All for Web! Web for All!