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Re: Costs of Accessibility?

From: Sailesh Panchang <sailesh.panchang@deque.com>
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 2010 10:31:58 -0500
Message-ID: <AANLkTins9ppt+432LYPnnuEJtu5AxSmw8qXZeMZG6KHU@mail.gmail.com>
To: Kelly Ford <kelly@kellford.com>
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org, Lainey Feingold <LF@lflegal.com>
These are some factors I identified as part of the response to Q# 13 by DOJ.
Costs can vary greatly. The components may be different for existing
website that needs to be made accessible and a website that needs to
be build from scratch.
Cost components:
i. One-time cost of evaluation and repair and
ii. Ongoing sustainability cost.
iii. Sometimes the design / framework / technologies used may not
permit effective remediation and the website / application may need to
be re-designed in its entirety.
iv. For new websites, accessibility issues have to be identified as
user interface is being designed. Developers trained in using
accessibility-markup and testers who are accessibility-aware and
trained will need to perform testing throughout the development life
v. Costs are also impacted by the development  and QA practices and
tools (Authoring tools, Web content management systems (WCMS),
learning content management systems (LCMS)  and accessibility
evaluation tools) used. It is possible that older tools may need to be
replaced with newer ones that prompt developers for accessibility
markup. Some of these tools are freely available; the more
sophisticated ones or enterprise-level tools have an associated
license fee which may run into thousands of dollars depending on the
configuration required.
vi. Finally, the nature of the Web content is also a major factor: is
it relatively stable and static or does it change ever so often like a
news site. If the site contains many audio-video presentations,
captioning and transcription may add to the cost and time.

It is difficult to answer the question in more specific terms with
actual numbers. For an existing website this can be done if all
content changes are frozen and one were to evaluate  accessibility
weaknesses and then fix and test them. The cost of resources  used for
this exercise would be the onetime cost of this accessibility
For a new website it may be necessary to figure out the cost
differentials like:
i. designing a website vs. designing one with accessibility in mind
(e.g. color contrast is okay, elements are keyboard-operable, layout
tables are not used in a manner that will mess up reading order, roles
/ states are exposed in text etc.). One does not have to spend the
extra time ensuring this if accessibility is not a success factor for
launching the website as has been the case historically.
ii. the cost of authoring / testing tools bersus tools  that support
accessible content creation and QA.
Sailesh Panchang
Director Accessibility Services
Received on Wednesday, 10 November 2010 15:32:36 UTC

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