Person using computer with braille computer display and a computer keyboard.

Accessible Web Auditor Coauthors Web Accessibility Study

8 Mar 2023

Our own Meagan Griffith coauthored an article in the journal Interacting with Computers. The research paper entitled “Quantifying the Cost of Web Accessibility Barriers for Blind Users” looks at the issue of web accessibility from a different angle than many of the articles on the subject that come before it. Lots of research has been done about how much failing to address web accessibility costs organizations. However, little has been done to quantify what accessibility obstacles cost blind users.

The cost to businesses that don’t provide an accessible website is obvious. The article points out “people with disabilities are a large consumer group, with an estimated $490 billion in after-tax disposable income in the US, a consumer bloc similar to the spending power of African Americans or Hispanics.” However, the cost to users, unable to access websites due to their disability, is less understood. This is a problem: without academic research on the topic how can legislatures understand the impact of a proposed regulation around disabilities?

The results

The study found that it took blind participants of the study twice as long to complete tasks on low accessibility websites than on high accessibility websites. That’s when the task is possible to complete on their own. This burden increased to 5 times longer when the users needed to contact customer service to complete the task.

The paper points out that there is a perception that addressing these accessibility obstacles is expensive. But, when accessibility is addressed from the start of a web project instead of retroactively, the expense is negligible. Which is something that fully checks out with Accessible Web’s years of experience in this field. The expense is often less than 10% of a website’s cost and the benefits far outweigh the cost.

Obvious conclusions

If your organization has an inaccessible or low-accessibility website, Meagan’s paper adds to a growing mountain of research that this is a mistake. Aside from building an accessible website being the right thing to do and the protection from ever-increasing litigation it provides, not accommodating a large portion of your audience is simply leaving money on the table.

Our clients provide this evidence to us every single day. While we can’t publish client and prospect data, we can share that there is a direct correlation between a business’s size and sophistication and their understanding of the opportunities that accessibility represents. It’s been personally surprising to me working here that it’s the large mega corporations known for being focused on profits that are the organizations that understand that doing the work to make their websites accessible is a no-brainer. They have the data to understand it as the opportunity cost that it is.

But you don’t need to be a mega corporation with a team of ops analysts or a Meagan and her team of researchers to understand that wasting your customers’ time is a bad move.