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Re: Disability statistics

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Sun, 16 Dec 2001 00:10:23 -0500 (EST)
To: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>
cc: Access Systems <accessys@smart.net>, Joe Clark <joeclark@joeclark.org>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0112152347510.26224-100000@tux.w3.org>
I agree with Kynn that the business case is the weakest argument that we can
make. However, it is also the argumment that I think in many cases must be
won, at however trivial a level, in order to convince some companies - in a
public company the directors are required to ensure return on investment, and
those who don't do it are breaking the law and in most countries can face
harsh legal penalties.

In addition, there are many companies who are not interested because they
haven't done any analysis of the business case. Phone companies tend not to
think of Deaf or Blind people as customers for the mobile phone market, but
in fact those groups are unusually good customers for mobile telephones in
Australia, since people who are Deaf use text messaging (SMS in the GSM
world) extensively, and people who are blind have great difficulty finding a
public telephone (except by accident).

It would be intersting to look at the example of tesco, a supermarket chain
in england with an online site.

They did a lot of work with the Royal National Institute for the Blind
(RNIB) on their online shopping, and as I understand it the following factors
were at play:

1. Cost of accessibility refit (obviously higher if it is done specifically
     for accessibility refit, rather than as part of overall design and
     upgrade plan)
2. Cost of publicising new accessibility
3. Legal liability arising from blocking accessibility
4. Negative publicity from same

5. Public relations benefit of new accessibility (media coverage, etc)
6. Money spent by new customers

I suppose that figures for most of these things are not readily available to
the public (although due diligence requirements would suggest that companies
in places like Australia, the US and the UK ought to have this information
for themselves), and of course they will vary from business to business, but
the equation is fairly simple.

There are some of these that are variable - many companies spend money to
spin the publicity in their favour or hire good lawyers, while there are
public organisations that actively campaign to increase the publicity
(negative and positive).

In addition there are organisations that can help promote a service which is
accessible to its members - groups such as the RNIB, VicDeaf, and the
Arthritis Association actively search for products and services that are
useful, and promote them if they are good.


On Sat, 15 Dec 2001, Kynn Bartlett wrote:

  At 11:27 PM -0500 12/14/01, Access Systems wrote:
  >I think there is a business case possible.  in fact I found that in the
  >Baltimore Metro Area using only minimum SS payments as the per person
  >income, which is low balling because some will be making more $$$
  >and using that number and census data it was figured that there would be
  >over 7million dollars per month of disposable income by these persons.
  >How much do you (the business) want of that??

  How much would it cost to get it?

  That's the business case.  Business is all about spending your money
  in the way that generates the most money.  If it will cost me $1M to
  advertise to blind people, and $25,000 to make an accessible web site,
  and there are only 20% of blind people online, then it may make sense
  to spend $1M to advertise to non-blind people who are online in greater
  numbers, and who constitute a greater percentage of the population.

  Business case statistics of "how much money are available" do not help
  the cause of accessibility, because from a purely business standpoint,
  unless you are going to be a business which caters in large part to the
  needs of the disabled, it's probably not worth the cost to meet those

  If it were _true_ that meeting the needs of disabled people is the
  way to riches, don't you think we'd see it online and offline?  The
  reason companies currently support accessibility is because someone
  made a moral (or PR, or government-driven) decision to do the right
  thing, not because there's billions of dollars to be made targetting
  people with disabilities.

  This is why I think that the business case argument is the weakest
  possible argument we can make, and why I think that efforts in that
  direction -- to convince someone that we know more about how their
  business should operate than they do -- are always going to be wasted.

  (A better business case is "hey, web design companies! if you write
  accessible HTML you might get government contracts easier!" -- but
  that is a 508 business case, not a general web accessibility business


Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI    fax: +1 617 258 5999
Location: 21 Mitchell street FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia
(or W3C INRIA, Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France)
Received on Sunday, 16 December 2001 00:11:22 UTC

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