Digital accessibility benefits staff, customers, profit margins and drives brand value. It is also the right thing to do.

But how do you go about it?

AbilityNet's survey of C-Suite professionals reveals their attitudes to digital accessibility. Many perceive digital accessibility as a "never-ending task" rather than an opportunity to innovate and build an ethical brand accessible to all.

Motivations for digital accessibility

For the majority, meeting legislative demands is the biggest driver (71 per cent cite a need to comply with accessibility legislation). In comparison, only 59 per cent see digital accessibility as a driver for innovation - despite evidence to the contrary.

"Embracing digital accessibility is a key component of the broader diversity and inclusion (D&I) agenda and will boost your brand and help you to reach more customers," said Robin Christopherson, MBE, head of digital inclusion for AbilityNet.

Barriers to digital accessibility

Despite a perceived need to comply with legislation, only 31 per cent share progress against international accessibility guidelines at the board level.

Other headline findings included:

  • 26 per cent of C-suite respondents believe they "lack the internal skills and experience" to drive digital accessibility.
  • Only 50 per cent of C-suite executives rate the statement "customers are more likely to buy from us as an ethical brand" as either "very" or "fairly" important.
  • 22 per cent see digital accessibility as a never-ending task.
  • Fewer than 50 per cent of those surveyed have a named person who is responsible for digital accessibility.
  • 32 per cent said measuring the impact of digital accessibility is the most significant barrier.

How to accelerate your digital accessibility agenda

Conducted with Dennis Insights and IT Pro, the survey identifies "change agents" that can accelerate a digital accessibility journey and help companies jump ahead of their competitors.

Based on the survey results, we recommended five "change agents" to accelerate your digital accessibility programme:

  • Build a network of accessibility champions
  • Have clarity of leadership around digital accessibility
  • Have a clear vision for what digital accessibility means to your organisation
  • Embrace the business benefits of digital accessibility
  • Hold yourself to account on progress around digital accessibility

"AbilityNet's detailed report offers valuable insights, exploring the challenges - both real and perceived - facing business leaders looking to start their digital accessibility journey. It also highlights some key change agents that will make that journey far smoother and quicker than they may have thought," said Christopherson.

About the survey

On AbilityNet's behalf, The Dennis Insights team reached out to 78 UK based C-suite executives in July 2021. The research took the form of an online survey, which, on average, took less than 10 minutes to complete.

Some 76 per cent of respondents were digital accessibility decision-makers.

Sectors surveyed included IT, retail, arts, culture, media and sport, and manufacturing. The majority of those who took part came from smaller businesses with less than 250 employees.

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