Achieve digital Accessibility with low Ressources

It is not that difficult to implement accessible websites or apps. First of all, it is important that you do not create your own content management system, but use one of the large free open source products. These include Drupal, TYPO3, Joomla! or WordPress. In the standard configuration, they all meet the most important accessibility requirements. The frontend is of course adapted to your own requirements, but any web agency can take care of the accessible implementation. It is important to set expectations from the start. The client must click to the agency that he wants to have implemented accessibility according to WCAG 2.0 conformity level 1, for example. This is a clear requirement, verifiable in principle, that can be implemented by any designer/engineer.

As a rule, a CMS already exists. In order to keep the costs for a conversion of the system low, the new requirements should be implemented step by step. The Pareto principle applies: 20 percent of the measures meet 80 percent of the requirements, at some point the relationship will tip over, but you don't have to go as far as this point.

Article Content

Accessible documents

Implementing accessible PDFs is expensive in practice and – unfortunately I have to say it – nonsense. Of course, information that is only offered as a PDF should be accessible without barriers. As a rule, however, information that is made available on the Internet as a PDF shows the provider's lack of user orientation. The provider is telling me to download a file, start a program, open the document because they are unable to simply put the information on the website.

PDF is also far from having the level of accessibility that is possible on the web. This is due to the different support of accessible PDF by the assistive technology and the poor quality of Adobe's reading programs.

Accessible PDFs can bevery easy to create with OpenOffice/LibreOffice or MS Office 2007 or higher. Not all requirements can be implemented with it. But nobody expects that either.

Accessible information technology

An accessible workplace can also be implemented inexpensively in many cases. The current devices from Apple have built-in screen magnification, voice input and output. Windows operating systems can also be integrated via virtualization. The free screen reader NVDA is sufficient for many tasks in Windows. Starting with Windows 7, a usable screen magnification is integrated, which should be sufficient in many cases.

I have already described elsewhere that many tasks can be solved creatively. For example, blind persons can do desktop publishing, and shells also open up completely new possibilities .

The costs

Accessibility is similar to other things: the basic requirements can be implemented at relatively low cost. The higher the requirements, the more expensive the individual measures become. The second principle of accessibility is: the earlier it is implemented, the cheaper it is and the faster the costs are amortized.

Another issue is the return on investment. Even if we would like that, the higher costs of implementing accessibility are not directly reflected in a larger number of customers. This means that it cannot be said if and when the higher costs will be recouped through the implementation of accessibility. But that is the basis of how companies make their investment decisions.

I recently read about a bank that switched off its accessible banking offer again after the expected increase in customers failed to materialize. Apparently someone made them false promises, which I don't think makes sense.

As with so many things, the costs scale here: a large company can afford to invest a six-figure sum in maintaining its website. It doesn't matter if the costs increase by ten percent because accessibility is taken into account. For the small business owner, however, an additional cost of 1000 euros can already be a problem.

Accessibility as a comprehensive corporate concept

Therefore, accessibility must be implemented as an integral part of the corporate strategy. Elsewhere I wrote about CSR and accessibility. There is relatively little point in making the pages accessible if nobody notices. If the company does a commendable job of accessibility without being legally required to do so, then it should proactively communicate that fact in corporate PR, marketing, and wherever appropriate.