If I Can’t Read Your Site, I Won’t Buy Your Stuff

Is your organization providing content in accessible formats? I’m going to go out on a limb and guess probably not. If you’re answer is yes, then it’s likely that you are required to be 508-compliant by a government agency

I’ve long held that the delivery of accessible content makes business sense. There are many statistics that show the purchasing power of users with disabilities and what an under-served market this is. Note the US’s Americans with disabilities site.

With that in mind, think of the time and energy expended trying to ensure that your site is compliant with Firefox, Safari, or various mobile devices. Doesn’t it make business sense to ensure that content is “people-compliant” as well?

As the population ages, users with disabilities will become more prevalent. It’s likely that current economic conditions will cause people to delay retirements, the work force in the coming years is to be a lot grayer than economists had ever anticipated (I imagine the fashion industry will contend that “72 is the new 55″). Furthermore, people who were members of 18-to-34 demographic when e-commerce first got a foothold now roughly fall into the “30-to-46″ demographic; I am at the older edge of that group.

Recently my eye doctor was kind enough to use the euphemism “progressive lenses” in describing my new prescription, but there is no denying that I now wear bifocals. My vision is diminishing. The number of users with visual, auditory mobility and cognitive impairments will continue to grow as the population ages; businesses would do well to have a strategy to capture this market.

However, I think the impetus for change is more likely to come from legal decisions like this In summary Target lost a suit against the National Federation for the Blind was forced to pay $6 million and to adhere to federal accessibility guidelines.

It seems likely that organizations will suddenly find time and money to make content accessible rather than write a check for $6 million (plus legal costs and diminished reputation…. ).

Is this legal decision a tipping point for accessible content in the commercial space? If so, what solutions will be at the forefront of managing and delivering people-compliant content?

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