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RE: Costs of Accessibility?

From: John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>
Date: Sun, 7 Nov 2010 22:18:16 -0800 (PST)
To: "'Ian Pouncey'" <w3c@ipouncey.co.uk>, "'Lainey Feingold'" <LF@lflegal.com>
Cc: "'Sandi Wassmer'" <sandi@copious.co.uk>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <023201cb7f0c$b9e5eea0$2db1cbe0$@edu>
Ian Pouncey wrote:
> By all means include 'accessibility' as a contractual requirement, but
> if an agency tenders for a job and includes the cost of accessibility
> as an extra line item I would strongly suggest that you choose another
> provider.

I could not concur more strongly! The means and technical capability to
create accessible web content has existed for more than a decade in some
way or form, and Adaptive Technology has existed even longer than that!
That it should somehow cost more to do this today is a difficult hurdle to

Imagine contracting a plumber to install new water lines in your building,
and he offers you 2 prices: one price to get it done, and a higher price
to getting it done to building code standards. 

> This core element of web development should come as
> standard, you should not expect to pay extra for it anymore than you
> would expect to pay extra for CSS.

To be sure however, there is a cost to having a good CSS practitioner on
any team, and so too there will be a cost of having a similar
accessibility practitioner. In very large organizations, this amounts to
physical bodies (and attendant payrolls), but in smaller shops, just as
most workers will have a working experience with all of the required
technologies (html, css, javascripting, etc.) so too should there be a
culture of "accessible from the get-go" which means skills development*
for those developers: better/larger shops would likely have a dedicated
accessibility specialist who would work with both shop developers as well
as clients to ensure success. That individual's participation would vary
from project to project, but could likely be as high as 10% of any given
project, but likely much lower in most circumstances. Scope, size and
level of complexity will be the unknown variables here.

(*If pressed to determine a 'cost', the price of skills enhancement
(training) is one dollar figure that could be analyzed/contemplated.
However like other expenses of this nature, it is a longer term investment
rather than a line item cost.)

> If you are paying for usability testing then this should cover a wide
> range of users as standard, including those with disabilities. Testing
> will never cover all users, disabled or otherwise, but should cover
> varying capabilities and requirements, from experienced and
> inexperienced web users to those who use an assistive technology or
> have specific needs beyond those of the average user.


> Sadly we are not at the stage when we can make these assumptions, but
> I think encouraging this mindset when it comes to procurement in large
> organisations such as The U.S. Department of Justice is one way we can
> force agencies to up their game and provide the services that they
> should.

Agreed. Contractors or large internal development shops need to first
adopt a "culture of accessible design", after which the amount of
resources required will depend on any number of factors, many difficult to
quantify in any meaningful way. Attempting to identify a specific cost to
ensuring accessibility is thus very difficult to define, and in many ways
frustrates the greater goal of first developing this culture of

Received on Monday, 8 November 2010 06:18:52 UTC

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