On my blog, in talks, and in my work with clients, I’ve really taken it upon myself to advocate for accessible design and development practices. There are so many good arguments for accessibility, yet it’s not always easy to get decision makers to buy in to accessibility requirements or commit to investing money in accessibility.
Elle Waters from Simply Accessible wrote a recent post about the struggle to find the right argument for accessibility:
So, how do we get people to give a damn? …
Each time, I tell myself that we just need to make a more compelling argument; once we get hard data, it will magically unlock enterprise budgets.
But, that’s like telling people the health benefits of exercise and expecting everyone to go to the gym. It just doesn’t happen. Just as no lawsuit (however necessary) inspires a web developer to create quality code, no business case will change a corporate culture. Litigation and data do not open hearts. Here’s the compelling argument: humans need accessibility. That doesn’t go over well in board meetings.
Whatever the right argument is, people need to start listening to it. Karin Hitselberger on the blog Claiming Crip wrote in the post “Accessibility Is Not ‘ Nice Thing To Do'”:
The truth is, accessibility is not “a nice thing to do”. Accessibility is a necessity. Even more than that accessibility is a right. When we frame access and accessibility as “a nice thing to do” it becomes an act of charity, and even an afterthought. When we talk about accessibility as an act of kindness or a nicety we eliminate its absolute necessity. It is absolutely nice for a stranger to shovel a curb cut to help somebody out, but the actual act of having a clear curb cut to use is so much more than a nice thing, it is an absolute requirement for many disabled people to go about living their daily lives. Without shoveled curb cuts I would not be able to get to work. Without shoveled curb cuts I would not even be able to leave my apartment complex.
And Karin is completely right. There are tons of selfish benefits to making accessible sites—better user experience for everyone, improved search rankings, ability for machine translations, and more—but at the end of the day, web accessibility is the way we allow everyone in society equal access to the internet.