The cost of accessibility

These are old figures (14 years ago) but worth mentioning, it’s not that often that someone has something factual to share:

[B]ased on 6 projects in the State of North Carolina and in the City of San Jose, accessibility costs represented 3.75% of project costs, when “done right” - integrated from project concept. This accounted for all costs, including:

  • developer training costs (40% of actual, since this was considered a reusable investment),
  • testing tool investment (again 40% when the tool was considered reusable or enterprise),
  • additional development cost (ironically this was actually negligible – less than .3% of coding time when dev staff were trained on accessibility before coding started)
  • Additional testing and QA process time (I don’t have that specific number).

2 HUGE caution flags:

  1. This survey was done in the days when websites and web apps were hand-coded by onsite staff. That rarely happens now, with Customizable Off the Shelf apps, contracted single-project staff, and WYSIWIG tools that auto-generate code. These changes make accessibility dependent on a number of factors outside of the project’s direct control.
  2. Project management has changed enormously from the “waterfall” days of old, when specifications were exactingly crafted, and dev teams briefed long before a single line of code was written. The iterative, rapid-development “agile” methodologies change the value and costing matrix for “nonfunctional requirements” such as accessibility.

If anyone has newer figures, I’d be very interested, as well.

Me too. We need more actual figures on how much it costs. Anybody wants to share?


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