Companies should prioritise accessibility, however this is not the reality. Below are 20 ableist statements companies might make, along with counter responses to promote accessibility:
“It’s not our target audience”
How do you know? 22% of people have some form of disability, you’re potentially excluding 22% of potential customers. Comparably, people with brown eyes in the UK is also 22%. Accessibility benefits everyone, and ensuring equal access to our products/services is a fundamental principle of inclusivity and social responsibility.
“Accessibility features are too expensive”
Investing in accessibility not only serves a diverse customer base but can also lead to long-term cost savings through improved user experiences and compliance with accessibility regulations.
US store Target got fined $6 million and had to pay $3.7 million in legal fees. The European Accessibility Act (EAA), which will come into force in 2025 and impacts private companies. A product that’s been active for 10 years and ignored accessibility, how much do you think a rewrite would be?
“We’ll address accessibility later, it’s not a priority right now”
Prioritising accessibility from the start prevents costly retrofits, rework and rewrites and demonstrates commitment to equal access for all. Additionally, as technology advances, accessibility will become an even more critical consideration. By investing in accessibility now, companies can future-proof products. It can also enhance your brand.
“Our product is already user-friendly, we don’t need accessibility features”
Working on accessibility often drives innovation and creativity within teams. It challenges teams to find creative solutions that benefit all users, not just those with disabilities. This innovation can lead to improved product quality and user experience.
Did you know dark mode is an accessibility feature? Captions are an accessibility feature? When you make a product accessible, wider groups also benefit. This is often called “cut curb effect”
“People with disabilities are a small market, we don’t need to cater to them”
People with disabilities make up a significant global market, in the UK this is estimated to be 22% their purchasing power should not be underestimated.
“We don’t have the expertise for accessibility”
The company can allocate resources, collaborate with experts, seek guidance and offer training to make your products/services more accessible. Feel free to reach out for help.
“We can’t make everything accessible”
Then start by making the most critical features accessible and gradually improving other aspects over time. Start by capturing bugs.
“Our designers don’t want accessibility to compromise the aesthetics”
Which people are you willing to exclude from this design? A professional designer will be able to lean into the constraints. A professional designer embraces inclusive design. A professional designer puts users above their own wants or desires.
Accessibility can enhance design creativity and innovation while ensuring a broader audience uses products and services.
“Accessibility will slow down development”
Integrating accessibility into the development process from the start can improve efficiency and reduce the need for extensive rework later. Does security slow down development? Would you forgo security?
“We can’t make our website accessible for all disabilities”
We can follow best practices, including WCAG guidelines, to address a wide range of disabilities and progressively improve.
“It’s too complicated to understand disability needs”
Educating the company about different disabilities and involving users with disabilities in the design process can help us better understand their needs.
“We haven’t received complaints, so it must not be a problem”
Lack of complaints doesn’t mean users are not having issues, it just means you’ve not been contacted. The lack of data is not data in itself. A company should proactively seek feedback and conduct accessibility audits.
“We have too many legacy systems to make them all accessible”
Prioritising accessibility in new projects and gradually updating legacy systems can lead to substantial improvements.
“We’ll just add accessibility as a checkbox requirement before launch”
Accessibility should be an integral part of the design and development process, not an afterthought. A checkbox requirement often means further education is needed.
“Our competitors don’t prioritise accessibility either”
Are you sure? As a vendor you might easily be dropped if your software discriminates against employees or customers. If your competitors have built accessibility in from the start they’ve got a significant selling point. Leading in accessibility can be a competitive advantage and demonstrates commitment to social responsibility.
“We don’t have any employees with disabilities, so it’s not a concern”
You do. The company might not have a safe environment and people might have not disclosed this information. However that does not mean disabled people in your organisation do not exist. Additionally promoting inclusivity can attract a more diverse workforce and foster a culture of empathy and respect.
“We’re a small company, accessibility isn’t feasible for us.”
Even small companies can take steps towards accessibility, and there are often affordable or free resources available.
“Accessibility is a legal requirement, so we’ll do the minimum necessary to comply”
Do you ever wonder why legal requirements exist? Would you be happy to purchase an oven that didn’t meet legal requirements? Would you drive a car that didn’t meet legal requirements? Compliance is a baseline; the goal should be to exceed legal requirements and provide exceptional accessibility.
“We’ve always done it this way, we don’t need to change”
Embracing change and evolving approach is essential to meet the evolving needs of all customers. Read more about The Business Case for Digital Accessibility.
“To hell with the business case”
The moment you frame the case for any kind of inclusion or equity around the money an organisation stands to gain (or save), you have already lost. What you have done is turn a moral case, one where you have the high ground, into an economic one.
There is a reason one of the most beloved quotes in all of accessibility was Tim Cook’s angry response to an activist shareholder. “When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind (sic),” he seethed, “I don’t consider the bloody ROI (return on investment).”
“Nothing will happen”
The European Accessibility Act (EAA), which will come into force in 2025, it is a law designed to create equal access for Europeans with disabilities by requiring a mix of products and services to be accessible. This will impact private companies should they wish to operate in the EU.