An illustration of a bar graph with three bars, and the third bar is an arrow pointing upwards. Next to it is the universal accessibility symbol.

Building a Business Case for Digital Accessibility: Not Just Compliance, but Competitive Advantage

Posted by: Jeff Mills on August 25, 2023

In a digitally connected world, accessibility is no longer a luxury or an afterthought. It’s a necessity. For businesses, ignoring digital accessibility can lead to legal complications and isolate a significant portion of potential customers. Surprisingly, many organizations still underestimate the value of making their digital platforms more accessible. If you need to champion this cause within your company, here’s how to build a compelling business case for digital accessibility.

The Market Argument: Unlocking a Larger Audience

According to the World Health Organization, over a billion people live with some form of disability. That’s approximately 15% of the world’s population. By not making your digital assets accessible, you’re potentially excluding a vast swath of the market. More importantly, accessibility improvements also benefit other groups, like older adults or those who face temporary impairments.

The Legal Aspect: Minimizing Risk

Accessibility lawsuits related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have increased. Companies across sectors are finding themselves embroiled in expensive and reputation-damaging legal battles. Proactive investment in digital accessibility not only makes good business sense but also acts as a safeguard against potential lawsuits.

The ROI Perspective: Better Usability and SEO Benefits

When you improve a site’s accessibility, you often enhance the user experience. Features like simplified navigation, transcript availability, and better colour contrast make your site easier to use and navigate, reducing bounce rates and increasing time spent on your platform. Additionally, accessible websites are generally more SEO-friendly. Improved rankings can lead to higher visibility and, consequently, increased sales and customer engagement.

The Innovation Angle: Future-proofing Your Business

Emerging technologies like voice assistants and AI-driven platforms make the digital landscape more accessible. Adopting these technologies early on sets the foundation for an innovative, forward-thinking brand. Furthermore, accessible design often leads to better product design, fostering innovation.

The Branding Element: Social Responsibility and Reputation

Consumers are increasingly interested in the ethical dimensions of the businesses they patronize. Accessible digital platforms demonstrate social responsibility and convey a message of inclusivity and equality. This positively impacts your brand reputation, which is invaluable in a market crowded with options.

Building the Business Case: Tactical Steps

  1. Start with a Digital Accessibility Audit: Know where you stand before proposing changes. Use tools and consultants to assess the accessibility of your current digital assets.
  2. Engage Stakeholders Early: For any project to succeed, key stakeholders’ buy-in is crucial. Present the business case to leaders across departments, not just IT and marketing.
  3. Develop a Roadmap: Create a step-by-step plan for implementing changes, ideally, one that aligns with any broader digital transformation initiatives.
  4. Assign Budget and Resources: Clearly outline the financial and human resources required to implement the roadmap.
  5. Set KPIs and Metrics: Define success in measurable terms. Metrics could include user engagement levels, reduced legal risk, or even brand sentiment scores.
  6. Review and Refine: Once implemented, regularly review the impact and iterate. It should be an ongoing effort, not a one-off initiative.

Digital accessibility is not just a compliance issue; it’s a competitive advantage, an innovation driver, and a mark of corporate social responsibility. Building a business case for it is strategically sound and morally right. By embracing digital accessibility, you’re not just opening doors to a more inclusive world—you’re inviting business success to walk right in.

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