the Case: Overview
Legal & Policy Factors
on this page: introduction - financial benefits - considerations
The cost of including accessibility in new projects is usually an insignificant percentage of the overall Web site development cost. Most of the costs are early investments in internalizing the process of authoring (or building) accessible content, that result in cost savings later. Once an organization has integrated accessibility into its infrastructure, there are usually few costs associated with accessibility at the project level.
It is important for an organization to recognize that making Web content accessible is not a one time effort and expense but one that needs a long term commitment as Web content and Web applications undergo changes and revisions over time. Besides monetary costs, an organization needs to be prepared to invest the extra time needed for the effort during the initial stages, and also overcome any resistance to changing content development and deployment processes.
When an organization first starts incorporating accessibility, there are initial investments in acquiring knowledge, establishing processes, and increased development and testing time. The investment in initial costs, including increased time, human resources and commitments to produce and incorporate, lead to other benefits. These additional benefits are described throughout this resource suite.
The following are common human resource-related costs associated with an initial investment in accessibility:
When retrofitting an existing site, assessment of existing Web site accessibility is a common initial cost. It can be either a direct expense if using a service outside the organization, or a human resource and time cost if using internal resources. Making accessibility improvements in existing Web sites is almost always more costly in human resource time than incorporating accessibility as sites are initially developed.
Potential initial expenditures include:
There are also potential upgrade costs that can be burdensome in their human resources and financing requirements. Sometimes organizations determine that it will be more effective and efficient to implement accessibility with different, usually newer, technologies. For example, some organizations upgrade or change to authoring tool software that better supports production of accessible Web sites. (Selecting and Using Authoring Tools for Web Accessibility includes guidance on evaluating software currently used by an organization and selecting new or replacement software.) The move to different technologies, such as different specifications, often involves a cost in training and skills development. For example, using style sheets (CSS) requires CSS knowledge. Gaining this knowledge increases initial development and testing time to ensure interface interactions and cross-browser support. Long-term costs can be significantly reduced by the efficiencies incorporated in working with one file to implement global changes.
When accessibility is new to an organization, incorporating accessibility in a project usually increases the development time and testing time, as people are learning on the job. Once project members get experience with accessibility, the development time spent on accessibility decreases significantly, in some cases to none. For example, once people have knowledge of CSS, they are able to apply that knowledge to each project without additional cost and development time will actually decrease due to efficiency of CSS.[@@ As explained in Financial Benefits above, some of the accessibility improvements can result in decreased development time. ??]
Additional development time is required for some types of accessible content, such as providing captions for the audio in multimedia content.
Organizations committed to providing usable, accessible sites will likely increase testing time. Accessibility testing activities include:
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