Accessibility ROI & Corporate Responsibility

I was interviewing the owner of a large web design firm on my radio show, Seacoast Business Connections and the topic of accessibility came up. As my guest was explaining to me that his firm makes a point of designing with accessibility in mind even if the client is not concerned with it, his twin boys, both of whom were born with cerebral palsy (CP), played in the lobby just on the other side of the studio’s large glass window. We continued our discussion and one of the twins, who is physically affected by the CP, rolled his wheelchair into the doorway of the studio to listen to his dad talk about him. It was obvious why accessibility was important to this proud father and why his company practices accessibility as part of its corporate responsibility.

Most businesses, however, don’t have something as compelling as an owner with a child with a disability as motivation to make accessibility a part of their corporate responsibility. Moreover, there is a misconception that accessibility is a drain on a company’s assets. The truth is, there is a very compelling return on investment with accessibility. That’s right, corporate responsibility and profitability line up.

The disabled community worldwide that relies on these tools has over 1 trillion dollars in disposable income. $247 billion of that comes from US consumers alone – a consumer population equal in size to the US Hispanic market.[i]

Given the size of the market created by the disabled community, the potential size of the return for the accessibility investment becomes clear. Now consider that the aging population contributes heavily to the disabled community and that this population is growing. You may have an elderly parent or grandparent that passed off a mobile phone or walked away from a computer screen because they couldn’t read it. I asked my mother the other day if she had trouble reading webpages on her mobile phone. She said, “No, that’s your father. He doesn’t use his phone for the web because he can’t see it.” As my dad has aged he has become more and more reliant on his glasses, which he regularly loses on the top of his head. Because of this, he is not a consumer on the web. But my mom, who is the same age and able to read the small text on her phone, is a web consumer.

So how do you access this trillion dollar market that is growing every day? The answer is an accessible site. This is your ROI. Even if the ROI were to show that you would only pay for the cost of making your site accessible, you essentially get some corporate responsibility for free.  You can also see by the numbers that it is likely that the return will be much greater than that. So, yes, now your corporate responsibility turns a profit. This is the win/win you’re looking for.

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