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5 Arguments to sell accessibility to your company

To sell accessibility to your company, I suggest using arguments different from “it’s best for the user”. In this article, I will explain why I believe this and what arguments you can use to increase your chances of success.

It can be a challenge to convince others to invest in accessibility. Especially if the company you work for is not doing anything around accessibility yet and there is not much knowledge on the topic. When you are passionate about accessibility, it can seem difficult to understand why others are not on board with this. After all, we all want what is best for the user, right? It can really feel like you are a lone voice crying in the wilderness.

They mostly invest in things because it makes sense from a business perspective.

The unfortunate truth is that many companies will not invest in something because it is the right thing to do, or even because it will benefit a group of customers. They mostly invest in things because it makes sense from a business perspective. I recommend focusing on how inaccessibility affects their bottom line and what there is to gain with becoming accessible.

Who should you sell accessibility to?

Let’s first look at who you should try to reach with your message, to make a bigger impact. Based on research by Dr. Velleman from Stichting Accessibility it seems that (higher) management are the best group to focus on. He found that the engagement of management is key in achieving better accessibility standards. Their interest in accessibility, as well as their commitment to the implementation, are important factors for success.

Typically, management lack awareness on the topic of accessibility. They often don’t know how many of their users have a disability or how well they support these users. In Vellemans’ research, 90% of participants believed that their website supported users with a disability, while in fact none of the audited websites passed the test.

How can you convince higher management?

I’d like to share 5 arguments that you can use to convince your management to invest in accessibility.

1. Increase your revenue

When your inaccessible website makes it very hard or impossible for a part of your target audience to buy your product, you are missing out on revenue. Chances are that users will look elsewhere.

The Click Away Pound survey analyses the online shopping experience of people with disabilities and calculates the costs to businesses for ignoring this group. Based on 2019 findings, they estimate that inaccessible businesses in the UK have missed out on £17.1 billion because users have clicked away to other suppliers when encountering accessibility barriers.

  • The amount of active internet users with access needs in the UK in 2019 is estimated 7.15 million.
  • Most users with access needs (69%) click away to go to more barrier-free sites.
  • On the other hand, these users are very loyal to companies that offer them a pleasant experience online. 83% limits their shopping to websites that they know are barrier-free.
  • The ease of shopping also seems to be more important than the costs of products. 86% has spent more if there were fewer barriers.

2. Save costs

Unfortunately for users with access needs, clicking away is not always an option. When dealing with the government or when buying a train ticket, users are not free to switch suppliers. In that case, a logical next step is to reach out to customer service or visit the local branch to get help or complete the task in another way.

For businesses, customer service calls and staffed physical stores are very expensive. Reducing the number of customers using these services will help bring costs down.

  • The SNS bank reported a decrease in customer service calls of 15 to 30% after making their website more accessible. They saved about 1.8 million euros per year with this. This cost reduction more than repaid their initial investment in the first year alone.
  • The Regionale Belasting Groep made their website more accessible and found that the amount of customer service calls they received after sending out the tax returns dropped by 38%. They saved about 80.000 euros with this.

3. Improve usability and SEO

Accessibility of digital products does not only benefits users with access needs. It has additional benefits for all users, such as improving usability and search engine findability.

Important aspects of accessibility are being easy to navigate and understand. These aspects appear in many different elements of the website. A few examples are having a logical and clear site- and page structure, being consistent and predictable in the user interface, having clearly structured content and using alt texts.

Those elements are also common usability standards and evaluated by search engines for determining ranking. Improving these elements to make the website more accessible will also benefit the overall usability and SEO ranking.

4. Comply with law and policy

How important it is to comply with law and policy very much depends on the country in which your company is located. Many governments have rules and regulations in place related to web accessibility. How strict these rules are and what the consequences are of not adhering to them differs per country.

For example, in the Netherlands accessibility is mandatory by law. Since 2016, all government websites and apps need to be accessible. However, most of these websites are not accessible. A statement proclaiming their intent to become accessible in the future is currently accepted as sufficient.

In the USA, the situation is very different. The consequences of not having an accessible website can be much more severe. There is a surge in lawsuits filed in the last years. The court ruling has mostly favoured the plaintiffs, with sometimes very high costs.

5. Increase customer satisfaction

As mentioned, higher management is often not aware of their users with access needs and whether their products support them. Even more important is that they are not aware of the impact that this exclusion has on their users.

The impact of inaccessible websites or apps ranges from the added effort, added time, experiencing frustration to not being able to use or understand something at all. Because our world is becoming increasingly digital, exclusion can have a large impact on access to necessary information and resources.

Unfortunately, people with a disability can encounter these barriers daily. As you can imagine, the impact of this is not only functional but also emotional. It can have a profound effect on the feeling of personal autonomy and self-worth.

Luckily, companies are increasingly embracing the concept of customer-centricity. Increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty are important KPIs in many companies.

Becoming more accessible can help stakeholders deliver on these KPIs, while simultaneously making a real difference for users with access needs.

Closing thoughts

These arguments are hopefully a start for you to begin the conversation about accessibility in your company. In order to make a stronger case for accessibility, we would ideally need more data. I look forward to seeing more research and case studies on this topic in the future.

I’m curious about your thoughts! What are your experiences with convincing management to do accessibility? Do you have any additional suggestions?

Photo by Mike Kononov on Unsplash

Linda Timmerman (she/her)

Linda is a Dutch UX researcher with a background in cognitive psychology. She is currently working at Lely, an innovative agri-tech company that offers robotic solutions to automate almost all activities in the barns of dairy farms.

Previously, she worked for User Intelligence. Here, she helped various companies with UX research projects, such as Signify, Honeywell, adidas, KPN and ING.

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