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Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization: Overview

Page Contents

This page is the first of five web pages covering the social, technical, financial, and legal and policy factors in the business case for Web accessibility. Each page presents different aspects of Web accessibility along with guidance on developing a customized business case.

Introduction

The Web is increasingly an essential resource for many aspects of life: education, employment, government, commerce, health care, recreation, social interaction, and more. The Web is used not only for receiving information, but also for providing information and interacting with society. Therefore, it is essential that the Web be accessible in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with disabilities. Indeed, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) recognizes Web accessibility as a basic human right.

While accessibility focuses on people with disabilities, it also benefits older users, mobile device users, and other individuals, as well as organizations. Older users with age-related accessibility needs are an increasingly important customer base for most organizations, as the percentage of older users is increasing significantly. Organizations with accessible websites benefit from search engine optimization (SEO), reduced legal risk, demonstration of corporate social responsibility (CSR), and increased customer loyalty.

Organizations can realize substantial return on investment (ROI) that offset any costs of implementing Web accessibility. In order to be willing to make the initial investment, many organizations need to understand the social, technical, and financial benefits of Web accessibility, and the expected returns. The justification to commit resources to a project is often called a "business case". Business cases usually document an analysis of a project's value in meeting the organization's objectives, the cost-benefit analysis, and the expected outcomes.

Factors in a Business Case for Web Accessibility

The different aspects of the business case for Web accessibility are presented in detail in the following pages:

To help develop a customized business case, each of these pages starts with questions to help identify how the factors apply to a specific organization.

Permission to Use

The "Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization" resource suite is copyright© W3C and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

You may use this material as is or adapt it, as long as you attribute it as described in the "Creative Commons License (CC)" section of Using WAI Material. An example attribution is:

Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization. Shawn Lawton Henry and Andrew Arch, eds. Copyright © 2012 W3C® (MIT, ERCIM, Keio). Status: Updated 7 September 2012. http://www.w3.org/WAI/bcase/

Developing a Customized Business Case

An effective business case focuses on the organization's objectives and motivations. Certain aspects of the value and outcomes of Web accessibility are more important to one organization than another, based on its particular situation. For example, one organization's motivation might be to demonstrate social responsibility by being inclusive of people with disabilities, while another organization's primary motivation might be technical quality and meeting international standards.

Just as organizations' objectives and motivations vary, so do their business cases for Web accessibility. A customized business case for a specific organization will have different content and style, and incorporate different aspects with different emphasis, focused on that particular organization.

Examples of How Factors Differ Across Environments

Examples of different motivations that organizations have for adopting accessibility and how those can be integrated into a customized business case are provided below:

While your business case may emphasize a few aspects, it is also important that you include other aspects. For example:

Additional Resources

The following resources provide additional details related to the business case for accessibility:

Web Accessibility for Older Users: A Literature Review
Illustrates the increasing importance of older users online and the overlap between the Web accessibility requirements of older people with age-related impairments and the provisions of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. Includes statistics about changing demographics and the prevalence of impairment with age.
Web Content Accessibility and Mobile Web: Making a Web Site Accessible Both for People with Disabilities and for Mobile Devices
Introduces how websites can more efficiently be designed to be accessible from a mobile device and also accessible for people with disabilities when developers understand the significant overlap between the two design goals and guidelines. Links to more detailed technical documents.
WAI Resources
Lists the primary resources from W3C Web Accessibility Imitative (WAI), including several that provide additional information for organizations developing a business case.

Business cases are sometimes accompanied by an implementation plan describing the steps involved in making an organization's website accessible. A separate WAI resource suite, Implementation Plan for Web Accessibility, provides information on initial assessment, developing organizational policies, training, selecting authoring tools, and conformance evaluation.

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