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How business leaders can leverage accessibility to innovate and grow revenue

The importance of accessibility is today widely acknowledged. But it can sometimes be viewed as a nice-to-have or an optional extra rather than something that is business critical. Business leaders are in an important position to change this mindset and put accessibility at the heart of what the organization does. In this piece I’ll highlight three key concepts that will change how business leaders think about accessibility.


From accessibility is good for people to accessibility is good for business


Accessibility expands your potential market. Failing to be accessible is preventing you from building services and products from the millions of people around the world with disabilities.



By 2030, one in six people in the world will be aged 60 years or over. At this time the share of the population aged 60 years and over will increase from 1 billion in 2020 to 1.4 billion. By 2050, the world’s population of people aged 60 years and older will double (2.1 billion) according to World Health Organization data.


of the world's population or one billion people, experience some form of disability, and the number is rising - Worldbank.org

$8 trillion

The spending power of disabled households in which at least one of the members has a disability in each household (sometimes called “the purple dollar” is worth $8 trillion (see sheribyrnehaber.medium.com)


of the top one million home pages are not fully accessible - WebAIM Million - 2022 update

Accessibility, then, is good for business. Ignoring it can ultimately cost you, leading to:


  • Expensive Lawsuits if you fail to comply with accessibility standards written into law 

  • Damage to your reputation

  • Less visibility online, since accessibility practices overlap with search engine optimization (SEO) best practice.


From designing for disabilities to designing better products for all


Although accessibility matters in helping businesses meet the needs of all customers, it’s wrong to just view accessibility as designing for people with disabilities. It’s really about making a better product experience for all. 


Everyone will experience disability at some point in their lives. Disability can be permanent, temporary (wearing a cast or  feeling unwell) or situational (carrying a stroller or traveling to a country without speaking the local language). By making accessibility a fundamental part of how products are designed, we are building for everyone, making products easier to use regardless of situation. This concept is known as universal design.


From accessibility is only for experts to fixing common accessibility failures


Every year web accessibility non-profit WebAIM analyzes the home pages of the top one million websites to provide an insight on the current state of web accessibility. In 2022, it found that 96.8% of home pages have at least one accessibility failure; on average, these pages had 50.8 accessibility errors. These errors are not, it should be noted, difficult to fix. 96.5% of all errors fell into six categories:


  1. Low contrast text
  2. Missing alternative text 
  3. Empty links
  4. Missing form input labels 
  5. Empty buttons
  6. Missing document language 


All of these can be prevented by applying best design and development practices and fixed without any specific accessibility knowledge. My friend and former colleague Scott Davis coined the #FixtheSix to highlight that organizations can go a long way to ensuring accessibility simply by paying attention to these six things. When you consider that the WebAIM report was of homepages, these are all issues with users’ first point of online interaction — making the necessary changes could have a significant impact on users’ first impressions.


What else can you do?


Start measuring accessibility


If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it is a saying often (probably erroneously) attributed to management guru Peter Drucker. Whether Drucker said it or not, it’s a useful dictum and should be used in the context of accessibility. One of the easiest ways of measuring accessibility is with Google’s Lighthouse tool, which is available on every Chrome browser. It gives you an indication of what’s working from an accessibility standpoint and where you can make improvements.


Plan an accessibility hackathon


If you want to promote accessibility, there are few better ways to get developers engaged than to run a hackathon — you could even run one on  Global Awareness Accessibility day (GAAD) if the timing is right. Whenever you decide to do it, giving team members time to collaborate on accessibility challenges can go a long way in highlighting its importance and raising awareness across your organization.


Thoughtworks can also support and guide organizations towards greater accessibility. We’re passionate advocates for a more equitable tech future and see accessibility as a key element (alongside sustainability and diversity and inclusion) towards building it. Resources like our responsible tech playbook also offer a diverse range of ideas, tools, and frameworks to help integrate considerations around accessibility into your thinking as an organization.


This article is based on the the talk: ‘Shift your mindset on accessibility & inclusion’ by Sara Michelazzo at YConf Europe 2022. The recording is available on youtube.




Thank you to Matthew Johnston for collecting data to support why accessibility is good for business and Scott Davis for coming up with the brilliant #FixTheSix.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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