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A Business Case for A11Y

According to Google’s English dictionary, which is provided by Oxford Languages, the definition of a business case is "a justification for a proposed project or undertaking on the basis of its expected commercial benefit."

Let’s look at just 4 commercial benefits of an accessible website.

  • SEO - Your website structure is vital in influencing your SEO and is critical in creating an accessible website.
    • Headers - Header tags define the hierarchical structure of a website page in much the same way as an outline for a term paper. Users relying on a screen reader need a thoughtful header structure to have a good website experience. This is because their screen readers allow them to skip through headers until they find the section they want to read
      content that matches a user’s intent is one of the most critical elements of good SEO and headers are a critical element in creating that content.
    • Page Titles - A page title or title tag is an HTML tag that gives a web page a title. This title can be found in the browser title bar, as well as in the search engine results pages (SERP).
      Page titles make it easier for people using screen readers to quickly differentiate between multiple pages.
      Page titles are crucial for SEO, and should always be consistent with your users’ intent. For example, all page-one organic links in a Google search for "website accessibility" have a title tag with those exact keywords.
    • Descriptive link text - Descriptive link text gives your users an accurate expectation of the content they will find when they click the link. For screen reader users, they hear "plain language" not a fully qualified URL.

  • Increased Market Reach
    According to an article in Forbes magazine , "There are substantial opportunity costs for companies that opt to forgo implementing these web accessibility features. In the United Kingdom, the purchasing power of people with disabilities is called the 'purple pound' and is recognized as a key target audience. The 'purple dollar' is just as potent. A 2020 study showed (PDF) that the disposable income of people with disabilities, plus their friends and family, is $13 trillion. And according to a report by Accenture (PDF), the top 45 'Accessibility Champions' from the Disability Equality Index enjoy 28% more revenue, two times more net income, and a 30% improved performance in profit margins over other  businesses." What more needs to be said?

  • Competitive Advantage
    According to usability.gov, "User experience (UX) focuses on having a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations. At the core of UX is ensuring that users find value in what you are providing to them. Peter Morville represents this through his User Experience Honeycomb."


    7 polygons arranged like a bee's honeycomb - a polygon in the center with 6 polygons surrounding it - each with a factor of UX written inside. Factors are useful, disirable, accessible, credible, findable, usable and valuable.

    According to the UK’s
    2019 Click-Away Pound Survey , "71% of customers with disabilities will leave your website once they realize it’s difficult to use. The spending power of these customers represents about 10% of total online spending."

    And did you know that "9 out of 10 customers who encounter accessibility barriers on your website won’t take the time to let you know about it." Wow!

    Thoughtful UX design creates a powerful combination of differentiating your organization from the competition and putting your customer needs first. If you are designing your website using great UX, you are also designing with accessibility in mind and creating a valuable connection to nearly 15% of global citizens (roughly 1 billion people) with a disability …all while leaving your competition in the dust!

  • Positive Public Relations
    The socially conscious consumer has been around for a long time - a group that has helped be the catalyst for change in many industries. But this group of consumers is no longer just "hip" or "trending." This group represents "more and more of what mainstream consumers expect from brands." Not only does the socially conscious consumer care about environmental issues, but they also seek out, purchase from, and are loyal to companies that care about "diversity and inclusivity, gender equality, poverty eradication, support for small businesses, animal protection and more." They vote for their values with their wallet.” That's powerful stuff!
Ok, let’s condense all of this into short, concise, easy-to-remember information points to include in your business case as you educate and advocate for accessibility in your organization:

a) Accessible websites ramp up SEO. 
b) People with disabilities make up 10% of total online spending.
c) The disposable income of people with disabilities, including friends and family, is around $13 trillion!
d) Socially conscious consumers are here to stay!


Those are some mighty compelling justifications for making accessibility a priority in your organization. Let’s face it, adding accessibility to your standard operating procedures is just smart business.

Many organisations are waking up to the fact that embracing accessibility leads to multiple benefits – reducing legal risks, strengthening brand presence, improving customer experience and colleague productivity.
~ Paul Smyth, Head of Digital Accessibility, Barclays

Resources

Maggie Vaughan, CPACC
~ friend of DubBot, A11Y practitioner in higher ed