Got a boss who doesn’t think mobile accessibility is a priority? Here’s a few talking points to convince him that accessibility is always worth it.
“We don’t have time to add accessibility.”
That’s the most common reply I hear when digital managers are asked about making their apps accessible. Managers often see accessibility as a task that takes a huge amount time with little reward. In this article, I’ll give you a few talking points you can use to convince your boss, or your team that accessibility is always worth it.
Missing Market = Missing Money
There are 1 billion people in the world with disabilities (Source: GAAD). If your apps aren’t accessible, you’re missing a significant, potential market. Missing a part of the market means missing potential income for the company. This is your first talking point, because what manager wouldn’t want to make a change that brings the company more money and more users?
Moreover, the disability community is a very loyal community when it comes to accessible technology. If your app is usable and well-made, they talk about it and use it… a lot.
Managers think that adding accessibility is going to take a huge amount of time, and that they’ll be more behind than they already are in terms of the company roadmap. Making your apps accessible takes time, yes, but there’s a smart way to go about it.
If you have apps on two platforms, focus only on iOS to start. The majority of people wanting accessible smartphones buy iPhones, not Android. This is due to the fact that Apple itself prioritizes accessibility, and incorporates accessibility tools into their software directly. As a result, an iOS app that was developed without thinking of accessibility is naturally more accessible than the equivalent on Android.
Depending on how many mobile apps your company maintains, it may take your team weeks to update them to be 100% accessible. But who said it had to be done right this very second? Instead, make your accessibility updates little by little. Decide as a team that every new task can only be checked off as “done” if it is accessible as well. Then, as your team has downtime, go back and update some older parts of the app to remove this accessibility technical debt. After a while you’ll have 100% accessible apps.
More and more, digital accessibility is becoming a legal requirement. Just look at government agencies and public schools in the US: They are required by law to have their websites and mobile applications accessible for all. This is happening in countries all around the world. Accessible websites and digital tools are seen as basic human right these days because of how integral digital tools are to our society.
Why not be ahead of the game?
If you wait until you are legally required, you’ll get a legal ultimatum to make all of your products accessible within a certain number of days. It’s Murphy’s Law: the timing will never be right. You’ll most likely be in the middle of an important migration, or in the middle of launching a new product. Your team will have to stop everything to rush through the task of adding accessibility, and the quality is never good with that kind of pressure. Working on this before you’re legally required to will be better for the quality of your apps and better for the mental health of your team.
Even More Reasons
If your manager isn’t convinced by now, there are many more reasons to make your apps accessible:
Better for Everyone
Accessibility makes apps easier for everyone, not just people with disabilities. Take an elevator, for example. It may have been added to a buildling to provide an accessible alternative to the stairs for people using wheelchairs, but people without disabilities benefit as well. In the same way, digital accessibility benefits those without disabilities. A good example is allowing the font size in your mobile app to get bigger if the user has set the system font size to be extra large. This may have been created for users with a visual disability, but others such as your parents or grandparents benefit as well.
Access to digital technology is a basic human right. Our society depends heavily on digital tools to do everything from filing taxes to filling out police reports, to sharing photos on social media. As a maker of digital tools it’s your ethical responsibility to make sure it can be used by everyone.
From a manager’s perspective, if your company shows that accessibility is a priority, this could generate good press for the company as well.
In conclusion, you can use the following talking points to convince your manager that accessibility is worth it:
- It adds more users and brings the company more money from a loyal market that the company has been ignoring.
- It minimally increases the development timeline.
- It helps you avoid legal issues in the future.
- It makes the apps better for everyone, not only those with disabilities.
- It’s your ethical responsibility as a maker of digital tools to make them accessible to all.
- It can generate good press for your company, showing that they prioritize accessibility.
If this list hasn’t convinced your manager, ask him or her for a trial period. Test adding accessibility to your workflow for a month, and prove that it isn’t as big of a task as s/he thought.
To wrap things up, I hope this helps guide your conversation with your manager. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you would like help, or if you would like me to lead a workshop to introduce your team to accessibility. As you can see, this is a topic I am passionate about, so I am happy to help in any way I can.