Becoming aware of the problem
Are you aware that people with poor or no vision or other disabilities can use websites? It only requires a bit of extra software and or hardware on their computers, AND a properly designed website. Is your website designed to support access by these individuals? Unfortunately, probably not! Some studies indicate that less than 5% of all websites offer fair to good accessibility by people with disabilities.
There are an estimated 70 million people in the U.S. that are blind or visually impaired. And tens of millions more are deaf or have other disabilities. Why should any manager want to present barriers to those individuals? Whether you are a retail store or service business or public agency, there are relatively few organizations that can really justify closing their online "door" to those groups.
Is it expensive to create a website that is easy for people with disabilities (and senior citizens) to use? Surprisingly, the answer is no! If a team learns and follows the right techniques, achieving accessibility is a result. Would you consider it an "extra" cost (or a necessary cost) to include a table of contents in a book? Or to follow established conventions and rules for writing? The industry has defined a set of standards and best practices. The vendors that create assistive technology for people with disabilities are expecting those standards to be followed. When they are, the website works for everyone "for free". When the website does not follow those standards and best practices, then the assistive technology does not work correctly, and the user either finds another resource, or has a very frustrating and time-consuming experience trying to adapt.
Achieving Website usability and accessibility
For ten years, MataiNet has been helping organizations discover how easy it is to design websites for accessibility by people with disabilities, and for better usability by seniors. We find these services typically to be most effective:
- Training - MataiNet can provide training for your staff from basic "what is accessibility?" to advanced "how do we achieve accessibility?". Once your team is informed, they are better prepared to move forward. Training ranges from $750 to $5,500, excluding travel. We are also preparing a downloadable course. Contact us to check on availability.
- Assessment - MataiNet can assess your existing website or preliminary design for compliance with accessibility best practices and related standards. We can provide either high-level summary of accessibility, and or a punch list of issues page-by-page. Depending on the size of your website, assessments range from $500 to $3,500. (UPDATE: MataiNet "Accessibility Design Dozen Assessment Special" MataiNet is offering to provide a one-page accessibility assessment summary for any website at no cost or obligation. This offer will be available until further notice to help organizations become better aware of their actual website capabilities. See http://matainet.com/adda to learn more.)
- Guidance - If your developers aren't fully informed about accessibility and usability, or if you simply want some assistance along the way, MataiNet can provide guidance and recommendations on the enhancements needed to provide accessibility during their development effort. Costs depend on the size and complexity of the website, and level of guidance desired.
- Implementation - MataiNet considers design and development projects in some circumstances to ensure a high-degree of accessibility and usability.
Please contact us to learn more about these services.
NEW! MataiNet Website "AccessRx" package
MataiNet offers our Website AccessRx package to help organizations quickly transform their websites into usable, accessible information for everyone. Rehabilitate your website today to tear down barriers to more than 10 million people! MataiNet the baseline AccessRx includes:
- Two hours of basic training to familiarize your management and other personnel with accessibility and related standards
- Two hours of training for development personnel on an example process for designing for accessibility
- Resource kit containing tools and tips on accessibility design and implementation
- A summary accessibility design assessment and recommendations for up to ten pages of an existing website
- A page-by-page list of accessibility issues for up to ten pages of an existing website
- Two one hour (web conference) guidance sessions for the purpose of aligning your team's progress with best practices
The information and guidance included with MataiNet AccessRx enables your organization's development team or contractor to achieve a usable, accessible website with relative ease. AccessRx is very affordable and the baseline scope of services is well-suited for small to medium websites (up to 50 pages). We can adapt AccessRx to fit larger project needs cost-effectively. Please contact us to discuss rehabilitating your website so that all users can access it.
Tax and financial implications
Organizations may be able to offset the cost to rehabilitate an existing inaccessible website so that everyone can use it. For example, IRS United States Code (USC) Title 26 Section 44 may permit a tax credit for small businesses for making communications resources such as websites accessible. And USC Title 26 Section 190 may permit certain costs related to be deducted for all businesses. Consult with your tax expert to learn if these or other provisions are available for your organization.
Whether your organization can take advantage of tax incentives related to accessible websites or not, you may want to consider the implications on your revenues and costs. For example, if potential customers with disabilities visit your website but cannot access it (or only with a great deal of effort) they might not make a purchase, and they might seek a competitor. Or if they choose instead to phone or visit your office, then they require the assistance of your human resources at greater cost than the self-serve online model.