By the Numbers
The inaccessible web is vast and still growing by leaps and bounds, every day. There are countless small business and government websites built using templates sold by companies that are not accessible from the outset. Such template providers seldom, if ever, make their clients aware that they are stepping into potential legal jeopardy by using their template product. As we are preparing to launch the Access Ready Environments Initiative in earnest, what we are finding is truly troubling. For example, out of the 66 Florida County websites examined not one had an accessible version of the most recent budget available to the public. So much for transparent government. Yes, each of these counties will be hearing from the initiative in the next few weeks.
Twenty-eight million is the estimated number of small businesses in the United States. Half that number have websites with more every day. Based on our sampling less than 5% have done anything about accessibility. Many companies and government entities have spent millions providing accessibility on their website. Some web developers charge a great deal and some not so much. What is important is the certification of those doing the work and the real user testing. Once the site is live and being used then the real test begins. This is because many website owners do not put accessibility protocols in place to keep the site accessible. So, with the uploading of every new non-captioned picture, graphic or non-remediated PDF the site becomes less and less accessible.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control fully 25% of the American population are people with disabilities. That puts the population of the disabled at or near 82.5 million. Perhaps it is time for business and government to start taking our needs seriously. Business needs to pay attention because any group that represents 25% of consumers has a large economic impact. Government needs to pay attention because any group that represents 25% of the electorate can decide who gets into office and who is out. Employers need to pay attention because any group that includes 25% of potential employees can control the necessary talent pool. The disabled need to pay attention because it is our time.
Yes, the United States Centers for Disease Control, 25% of the American population are people with disabilities. It is interesting that when visiting the CDC site where documentation on this subject can be found we discovered that this disability related information is not available in a properly accessible and remediated PDF format. After downloading the material, screen readers could make little sense of the document. We appreciate the work of the CDC, but, find it ironic that they did not make it available in a properly accessible and remediated PDF format. Therefore, adopting an Access Ready Environments policy is so important. The CDC management and staff knows better and we believe that this was an oversight that we will point out shortly.
In the final analysis the only number that counts is one. If one person with a disability is denied access to information regularly available to others because of a lack of accessible information technology. If a person with a disability is denied employment or their work effectiveness is limited because of inaccessible information technology. If a person with a disability is not given independent access to the entire election process. If any of these barriers exist because of inaccessible information technology, then all 82.5 million Americans with disabilities are reduced to second class citizenship. The Access Ready Environments Initiative seeks to level the information technology playing field for that one person with a disability. Why? Because people with disabilities are together that one person.
Douglas George Towne
Chair/Chief Executive Officer – Access Ready Inc.