“Do you need accessibility testing?”
This is a question our clients will often hear, and sometimes it can be difficult to see what the business case is for it. A project manager may see the benefits of accessibility compliance but can’t get the budget for it from the business. Or the development company wants to build with accessibility in mind but the end client doesn’t see the need. It can lead to questions such as:
“Is there a requirement to make the website accessible?”
“Would we really be missing out on any business if we don’t meet accessibility standards?”
The answer to both of these questions is, of course, yes.
The digital products that we interact with each day have improved greatly over the years, but businesses and organisations are still missing out on engagement with customers and clients that have access needs. With this in mind, we examine the business-led cases for accessibility testing that goes beyond just good practice and corporate responsibility.
Over one in five people within the UK report having a disability, which is a spending power, known as the Purple Pound, of £249 billion. 73% of people with a disability have used the internet within the last three months, highlighting the common misconception that disabled users don’t engage with technology. This number actually increases to 96.9% when we look at users within the 25-34 age bracket, or 97.1% when we look at users in the 16-25 age bracket.
Further, The Click-Away Pound Survey 2016, states that “71% of disabled customers with access needs will click away from a website that they find difficult to use”. Those who clicked away have an estimated spending power of £11.75 billion in the UK, roughly 10% of the total UK online spend in 2016. The report found that 82% “will spend their money not necessarily on the website that offers the cheapest products, but where fewest barriers are placed in their way”. It goes on to point out that 90% customers who have difficulty using a site will not contact the business, so unless businesses actively consider the accessibility of their site, they will not be aware that any barrier exists. It would be fair to say this can be applied across all digital services including apps.
So how does a business access this market? The resolution is to actively ensure digital services are accessible to all. For businesses with pre-existing services this will require retrofitting, which can be a very expensive but necessary way to solve accessibility issues. To only consider accessibility during the late stages of development can create problems. In these cases, consider the time and effort made to reach accessibility standards an investment into your digital product, with a long term pay off.
At Zoonou, for example, we encourage considering accessibility needs consistently throughout the development cycle, from the initial start of design through to the final product and beyond, as a far more cost efficient solution. Regular reviews along with user testing of the final product can help to lower development costs and increased access to the purple pound.
Turning a disabled user into a brand ambassador is one of the best outcomes that can come from improved accessibility. If a customer has a positive experience with your product they are more likely to stick with your brand. As a recent Harris Poll points out, for those that have had a singular bad experience with a brand, 71% would be likely to never use that brand again. Those that stick with a brand are more likely to recommend it, and customers who have been referred to a brand by another customer are 37% more likely to stick with a brand according to Deloitte.
Following on from the financial motivations for accessibility, there are the legal implications too. If a user has a disability or impairment that prevents them from being able to access a business’s digital products, then this is an issue. It is unfair for the user and could lead to legal action against a business. Within the UK, any business providing a service is required to abide by the 2010 Equality Act and the Statutory Code of Practice for services, public functions and associations. The ‘2010 Equality Act’ was developed and replaced the regulations within the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, that outlines that it is illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities.
The Statutory Code of Practice for services, public functions and associations in the UK extends upon this to clearly define that service providers need to make “reasonable adjustments” to enable disabled persons to access their services. It goes further to say this “requires service providers to take positive steps to ensure that disabled people can access services. This goes beyond simply avoiding discrimination. It requires service providers to anticipate the needs of potential disabled customers for reasonable adjustments”. So unless you can justify why reasonable steps were not taken to make your digital service accessible, you could be indirectly discriminating against people with disabilities. Factors that may get taken into account when considering any justification could include: “the extent of the service provider’s financial and other resources, the amount of resources already spent on making adjustments” and “the extent of any disruption which taking the steps would cause”. Any evidence of successful accessibility testing, especially tests undertaken by disabled users, could be invaluable in the event of any legal challenge over your service’s accessibility.
When considered together, the financial and legal benefits create a compelling case for creating more accessible digital products. It should always be noted that improved accessibility does not just benefit disabled users but supports other audiences too. Older generations, people with English as a second language or users with poor literacy skills all benefit from improved accessibility and it helps to promote providing the best overall customer experience.
It is clear to see that there are some strong business cases for ensuring your digital product is accessible. Embedding the practice into culture and workflow has genuine benefits. It naturally becomes something developers use as a measure to decide if they have done a good job. It becomes a checkbox that has to be ticked on every sprint, every component, every template. It addresses your corporate responsibility and helps you reach a wider market.
Ideally this extends further to become a consideration within a business as a whole, with the responsibility of ensuring accessibility standards are met and applied to everyone. A company wide policy can help everyone understand their role. For accessibility, there are issues that apply to content creators, project managers, procurement and beyond, can be applied across all digital channels and become a requirement for work supplied from third party contractors too.
So again, ask yourself the question, do you need accessibility testing?
For more information, please see our accessibility testing service page. To discuss your requirements, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our team will get back to you. If you’d like to get in touch about anything else, please head over to our Contact page.