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RE: Costs of Accessibility?

From: Gunderson, Jon R <jongund@illinois.edu>
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 2010 08:15:35 -0600
To: John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>, 'Ian Pouncey' <w3c@ipouncey.co.uk>, 'Lainey Feingold' <LF@lflegal.com>
CC: 'Sandi Wassmer' <sandi@copious.co.uk>, "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <A37F89DE961B7E4594F2AB47054DAE4E105DEEBEDE@DSMAILBOX2.ad.uiuc.edu>
When people talk about costs of accessible websites, it usually is reference to retrofitting an existing web resource to improve accessibility.

These costs are usually relatively high in relation to the resources available by an organization and perpetuates the general perception that accessibility is hard and expensive depending on the technologies use in the original website.

But if accessibility is part of the initial design requirements of a website or application there are no real costs, since it is part of the design criteria of the web resource.

This is what we need to have, accessibility by design and not accessibility by repair. 

There may be costs for people to learn about accessible design, but there are costs for people to learn about web technologies, security and management and many other things that go into web site design and management.  I don't hear people asking how much a secure website costs.


-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of John Foliot
Sent: Monday, November 08, 2010 12:18 AM
To: 'Ian Pouncey'; 'Lainey Feingold'
Cc: 'Sandi Wassmer'; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: RE: Costs of Accessibility?

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 overcome.

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 accessibility.

Received on Monday, 8 November 2010 14:16:04 UTC

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