Promoting web accessibility

From WAI-Engage: Web Accessibility Community Group

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Share your tips and guidance. WAI has some formal resources, including Business Case and Contacting Orgs about Inaccessible Websites. Let's gather anecdotes, experiences, and suggestions to help everyone understand and embrace accessibility.

For case studies for the business case for web accessibility, see Case studies. You can add your own case study there, too!

Experiencing Accessibility

One suggestion is to encourage developers and others to try not using a mouse for an hour. In my experience, an activity such as "going mouseless for an hour" can be a good exercise, but it is important that people be offered a brief cheat sheet of basic keyboard commands. See #Caution below. {- Jennifer Sutton}

Sometimes, when trying to teach developers to imagine what it is like to use a screen reader, people encourage them to use one; however, screen readers are quite complex, and a person is not going to be able to get a real-life experience without significant training. An alternative is to watch videos of people using a screen reader, such as those listed on the following pages:

Note that these video resources include demonstrations of people using other assistive technology.

Even better is to have real screen reader users provide demos. This is introduced in Involving Users in Web Projects for Better, Easier Accessibility and Involving People with Disabilities in Your Project. {- Jennifer Sutton}

Another technique is to switch off the monitor, or ask the group to close their eyes, and listen to a screen reader. Then, ask the group if they could summarize briefly what the page was about. {- Vicki Menezes Miller}

Watching a piece of news, a video clip in sign language (with no captions or transcript available) also makes impact. Websourd {- Vicki Menezes Miller}


Like disability simulations in training exercises that are not properly framed, sometimes, these experiences can result in people concluding that "accessibility is too hard," since they don't have appropriate coping mechanisms. Specifically, I'm referring to disability simulations where sighted people put on blindfolds, use wheelchairs, put in ear-plugs, etc., and then perform a life-activity, such as getting lunch at a mall in a food court. Such exercises can be helpful, but they can generate unnecessary fear. {- Jennifer Sutton}

Cost-Benefit Model for Accessibility Projects

My first W3C posting so do let me know if this isn't the place or procedure for presenting an idea about a Cost-Benefit Model we developed to show the financial viability of accessibility projects for hard-nosed business decision makers.

We began with the premise that many online resources would be made accessible if their owners considered all the factors affecting their decisions. Because accessibility is unfamiliar to many risk-averse decision makers, we feel they defer or postpone addressing accessibility until it can be explained in terms they understand. With few exceptions, such decision makers understand a spreadsheet-based cost-benefit model commonly used to analyze business decisions with what-if scenarios the decision makers can manage.

So it is that we fielded a first cut at such a Cost-Benefit Model for Accessibility Projects with explanation and free download at

Sadly, we failed to present it and promote it given the other priorities of a private-sector accessibility services company. We also lack experience in the various ways one can put the word out about such things. Is this the group or forum where this idea can grow legs?

We remain ready to enhance the Cost-Benefit Model for Accessibility Projects in response to feedback or use case situations, all at no cost, just to see people use it to justify the launch of accessibility projects. As noted at the above link, we do not and will not charge for the use of this model.