Why Companies benefits from being accessible

The European Accessibility Act obliges parts of the private sector to be accessible, including banks, book publishers and online shops. Do they already know about that fact?

Because our economy is characterized by short-term thinking, they don't see the benefits of accessibility for themselves. This is precisely why commitments make more sense than voluntariness. I would like to elaborate on that in this post.

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The cost dilemma

Basically, the state would be doing the private sector a favor if it obliges it to be accessible. I have to go back a bit to explain.

Of course, accessibility is a cost factor. We can not deny that. The existing infrastructure has to be rebuilt. The costs are sometimes quite high, especially when it comes to conversion work. But there is no obligation, so individuals would have to rush ahead and implement it. The costs for this have to be passed on to the products and services. There is no other way in business. But if I start and my competitors don't follow suit, my products will become more expensive. However, the cost-conscious buyers go where the products are cheapest. We don't have to kid ourselves in this regard, accessibility is just as little an attractor as organic.

But if everyone has to implement accessibility, the whole thing is put into perspective. All products are slightly more expensive, but the non-accessible competitor has no cost advantage. However, uniform standards are required for this.

But it is also clear that it will not work without strong funding. Small businesses such as medical practices can hardly bear the costs of a accessible conversion. However, if there is only one or no accessible medical practice, this restricts the freedom of choice of people with walking disabilities. Doctor's practice can be replaced by any other term such as workplace, pharmacy or restaurant. And disabled people are the most illustrative example, we can take any other disabled group.

The advantage for the provider

In the longer term, providers who rely on accessibility have advantages. Demographic change has often been discussed, but the consequences do not seem clear to those involved. A large part of the population is reaching an age when they will have limitations in mobility, in sensory perception and in cognitive processing ability. The threshold at which this leads to slight limitations begins well before what is officially recognized as a disability. These people will have trouble reading product labels, menus, or instruction manuals. The package inserts for medicines have always looked as if they were designed for ants to read, at some point nobody will be able to read them without a magnifying glass.

In concrete terms, this means that even if you don't need a wheelchair or walker, you will have problems climbing stairs. If in doubt, you will prefer the café where you don't have to climb stairs and where you can read the menu without a 200 percent zoom. This also applies if you are otherwise still relatively fit and could easily walk longer distances without stairs.

Incidentally, despite all the justified criticism of poverty in old age, these are the people who have more money and more free time than the hip young people and young families who are considered the preferred target group. Parts of the tourism industry have at least already recognized this.

The economy is certainly already feeling this, they are not stupid. But the cost dilemma that I described above should have an impact here. Unfortunately, Apple and Co. are not good examples here. They play in the highest league in terms of profit and turnover.

A good example in the Corona crisis: Digital communication solutions fail if they are not accessible. These include the top dogs Adobe Connect, GoToMeeting or WebEx . Solutions that are more accessible such as BigBlueButton, Zoom or Teams can benefit.

Accessibility saves money in the long run

The housing market is a disaster for people with disabilities. Wheelchair-suitable apartments often have to be found nationwide. The conversion of an existing apartment is, if at all possible, hardly possible for a private individual with an average income. If we think of rollators, demand will increase sharply in the coming years. Apartments that are not accessible now have to be retrofitted at great expense.

Health insurance companies and other providers are already moaning about the costs they have to bear for rehabilitation and aids. But what will that look like when a quarter of the population depends on it?

Another example: It is not quite understandable why the new German trains ICEs do not have threshold-free access or integrated ramps. The mobility center is undoubtedly trying, but at the end of the day it restricts the freedom of choice and flexibility of people with motor disabilities in a way that is intolerable.

I could string together many more examples in this way. The costs of a lack of accessibility are enormous, except that today they are essentially not borne by companies, but by the state and social insurance, i.e. by all of us. As I have shown above, this is not going to last much longer, so the state should create uniform accessibility regulations.

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