The Business Case for Digital Accessibility

Thu 28 February 2019

Man in corporate environment using his computer

Image: Courtesy of Vision Australia. 


How can digital accessibility drive innovation, enhance your brand, extend your market reach and minimise your legal risk?

A new resource called The Business Case for Digital Accessibility explores key advantages of web accessibility to businesses of all types. Developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), it provides research and examples to inspire confidence among leaders and decision-makers that continued investment in accessibility is good for your business.

‘A research study of Fortune 100 companies indicates that disability inclusion, as part of an overall diversity strategy, is common practice among high-performing businesses.’

The web offers the possibility of unprecedented access to information and interaction for many people with disability. However, many web products are developed with accessibility barriers that make them difficult or impossible for some people to use. Accessibility means that websites, applications, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disability can use them. A valuable by-product is better usability for everyone.

‘Accessible design is by its nature flexible, allowing content to faithfully render across a broad spectrum of devices, platforms, assistive technologies, and operating systems. In physical environments, everyone takes advantage of lower curbs, automatic door openers, ramps, and other features provided for disability access. On the web, accessibility features become options that are also often used more widely.’

Featuring case studies from Apple, Google and Barclays, the Business Case provides real-world examples to show how benefits are realised in the global marketplace.

‘Barclays demonstrates how a strong commitment to accessibility results in distributed responsibility and shared understanding. Accessibility awareness permeates the company culture. The company is perceived as open and fair. People are proud to work there and to do business with Barclays.’

The Australian Network on Disability recently reported on a ‘Disability Inclusion Revolution’ – a global tipping point where business leaders internationally are making themselves accountable for inclusion of people with disability in the workforce. We then outlined practical steps leaders can take to drive the Disability Inclusion agenda, which included a focus on hiring people with disability. As the WAI’s Business Case points out, accessibility is critical to employment success.

‘Employing people with disabilities is an essential aspect of creating a diverse workforce. To be successful, the technology that employees use, including websites and applications, must be accessible.’

The WAI website has an extensive library of useful support to help companies realise the benefits of integrating accessibility into their development, procurement, and general business practices.

How does accessibility fit in your Information Communication Technology (ICT) and wider business strategies? Do you have someone leading the accessibility agenda? Have you made a formal commitment to the W3C’s global accessibility standards? Have you taken steps to check and address accessibility of your web and mobile applications?

The Australian Network on Disability’s Access and Inclusion Index is a national assessment and benchmarking tool that enables organisations to understand and measure access and inclusion across ICT and other key business areas. It provides practical insights into areas of strength and opportunity that can be used as a roadmap for ongoing improvement. Organisations that measured their performance the last two years in a row increased their scores by almost 20% – a huge leap of progress from one year to the next. 

Our top performers in the Access and Inclusion Index 2018-19 will be announced soon. In the previous year, this outstanding achievement went to the Federal Department of Human Services, Australian Taxation Office and ANZ.

If you’d like to know more about the Access and Inclusion Index, please contact us.

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