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Web Accessibility and the Market: An obvious relationship not always understood

Can you imagine not being allowed to enter a shop because of what you’re wearing?

Do you think it’s logical for someone to be prevented from accessing a given public service just because they don’t have a computer or browser that is compatible with the service in question?

And if you’re interested in selling a product or a service, would you ever consider not allowing a certain group of potential customers from having access to your product or service?

The answers are obvious to anyone wishing to run a BUSINESS, which, in short, is what drives today’s society. NO. We cannot afford to ignore any market and what’s more, we cannot afford to lose, either by word of mouth or going viral, potential clients who, owing to their affinity with those that have been excluded, may also decide to take their business elsewhere.

The right to accessibility and usability has already been recognised in many countries; but more importantly, people have needs that are often associated to their physical conditions; when we ignore these needs our target population is noticeably reduced in size.

This is a consideration that we should understand and put into practice, as is already the case in the United Kingdom.

There, Mark Harper, the Minister of State for Disabled People recently declared that many businesses are turning away potential clients if they fail to cater for disabled people.

Similarly, the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) also emphasizes that “shopping is the most difficult experience for accessibility”, followed by going to the cinema, theatre and concerts, as well as visiting pubs and restaurants.

The DWP has also found that households with a disabled person have a combined income of £212 billion, which of course is not an amount to be sniffed at.

Moreover, as Harper states, “we want businesses to realise they’re excluding more than 12 million customers and their families if they fail to cater for disabled people. That’s the equivalent to the populations of London, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Cardiff and Manchester combined”. He adds, “It’s not just about fairness, it makes good business sense to be accessible“.

The Accessible Britain Challenge brings together 200 of Britain’s largest businesses, which have agreed to take on the challenge of building a more accessible society in which people feel better, have more opportunities and as a result, generate more wealth and business.

We hope that these initiatives are adopted across the whole of Europe. The benefits would be mutual: not only for people with disabilities, but also for society as a whole, because when they participate in economic activities – activities made possible by greater accessibility – these people will surely make a significant contribution to our future development.

INTERNET, the Web, the INTERNET of things, must necessarily be oriented towards people, ALL PEOPLE; it plays an important role in the technology used in our knowledge and information society. That is why, a more accessible INTERNET, along with the points put forward in this article, will greatly favour integration of everyone in a society that is richer, and more prosperous.

For more information on this initiative in Britain, please see this article.