Karl Groves

Tech Accessibility Consultant
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Increased Usability through Accessibility

This blog post is part of a series of posts discussing the Business Case for Accessibility. In order to get a full view of the Business Case for Accessibility, I encourage you to read all posts in this series, links to which can be found at the bottom of this post.

Somewhat along the lines of the SEO argument are claims that accessibility will increase usability. The benefits to usability are claimed to come from things like clear organization of content, content chunking, effective navigation, and clear language.

  • Does it increase income? Maybe. To be frank, people tend to overstate the business value of usability in general. By proxy I’d say that claims concerning the business value of better-usability-via-accessibility are even more overstated.
  • Does save money? Probably not. Usability has been argued to save money in terms of support savings, etc. which is probably a legitimate claim. I don’t see anything specifically related to such arguments the WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion that have been tied to better usability.
  • Does it mitigate risk? Probably not
  • How strong is the evidence? Weak. I’ve seen no data to support these claims. Like the SEO arguments, only a very small portion of WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion are tied to increased usability and, frankly, those usability arguments are not well mapped to a tangible ROI.

I would argue that it is entirely possible to have an accessible website that is unusable. However, I’ve also noticed an interesting correlation: Websites with poor usability also tend to be inaccessible. I would consider the two to be loosely correlated, but I wouldn’t attempt to convince someone that they should undertake a specific accessibility effort under the auspices of increased usability. Like SEO, Usability should be its own effort and accessibility should be considered a by-product of a highly usable site.

I’m available for accessibility consulting, audits, VPATs, training, and accessible web development, email me directly at karl@karlgroves.com or call me at +1 443-875-7343