1.6: Which businesses and websites need to be compliant? 


Sandi: So, David, which businesses and websites need to be compliant with accessibility? 

David: Well, fundamentally, all organizations. All businesses need to understand the investment costs and the benefits that follow. So, diversity and inclusion, and in this case digital communications is an investment. It simply makes sense to get it right because it’s not only a legal obligation, but it’s an ethical and social responsibility. 

So I would say all organizations need to consider it so that they are compliant not only with the local laws, but they are boosting their market opportunities because they are more competitive. 

Sandi: Yeah, it’s something that I think many organizations forget or don’t consider. When you think about the statistics and they do vary, but you know if you assume that about 15, maybe 20, possibly 25 percent even of the population have a disability, depending on how you identify and how you describe disability, that’s a huge chunk that is not going to land on your bottom line. Like why would you want to exclude 15 percent of the market before you even start? That just as a business owner, that makes absolutely no sense to me. 

I want all the revenue I can get. I don’t want just 85 percent of the revenue. I want 100 percent of the revenue. So regardless of legal requirements, there’s also this whole business consideration of revenue generation. It’s hard enough to generate the first dollar of revenue. Why would you make it even harder on yourself by not opening it up to as many people as possible? 

David: Yeah, that’s right, because you know it comes down to your baseline. If you have a baseline of goals and values for your company, and you build your strategy around that, you can then measure your various business pillars. So, for example, if you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know when you get there. And the same with business costs and expenses and benefits that come out of it. You need to know what your expectations are, what your goals are, what your values are.

So, a well-defined website that uses the accessibility standards, first of all, what’s the benefit? Well, first of all, the benefit is it increases your market share. It expands your market brand reputation. It drives innovation for your employees. It prevents some possible litigations and it sets you apart as a leader in your sector.  

So, I think it makes sense for any company, small, medium or large, to get it right and integrate the accessibility strategy right into their goals and values. 

Sandi: It’s so true. When you talk about being a leader in your market, I think that’s very accurate.

There’s a thing called the Scully Effect. And I don’t know if you’ve heard of that David, but it goes back to the X files and one of the agents was a woman named Scully. And she was one of the first women to be portrayed, the first woman with a science kind of background to be portrayed in a positive light. And after that show aired, schools noticed an increase in interest in science, technology, engineering and math, in STEM programs, by young girls and women. They were moving into those fields and when they were asked about it, they said, well, we are aware of Scully and if she could do it then I can do it. And so that whole Scully effect that you can identify with an organization or with a person, a show even, because you can see yourself being portrayed in a positive light.

And I think that when it comes to the web and digital content of all kinds, if a company shows itself to be inclusive and caring and includes people with disabilities in the development of their website, maybe in the imagery that they use on their site, it makes it a much more inclusive digital experience. And that kind of positive experience, kind of has ripple effects. And it’s like that old shampoo commercial: you tell two friends and I tell two friends and so on and so on. 

So, an organization that is inclusive and embraces people from all parts of life, is going to have a much more positive image than a company that decides that they don’t care about 15% of the population.