Forrester report on web site usability

In Design Accessible Sites Now (requires paid subscription), Randy Souza of Forrester suggests that accessibility and usability issues in mind is a matter of saving company dollars. He cites that one of five Americans has some form of legal disability and federal laws now require federal government sites to conform to accessibility rules.

Today's approach to accessibility fails because it's an afterthought -- if thought of at all. To get designers, developers, and content contributors to support users with disabilities, companies must bake accessibility into their processes. Improvements require discipline but not much money, and they'll pay off.

Some calls to action suggested in the report:

  1. Conduct usability research with disabled users.
  2. Vet design firms for expertise.
  3. Scrutinize Flash and DHTML-based navigation.
  4. Access technology vendors: Join the party.
  5. Content management players: Improve tagging interfaces.

What it will mean to the industry:

  1. Fast movers will win loyalty from disabled customers.
  2. Text-to-speech improvements will lead blind users online.
  3. Baby Boomers will fan the accessibility flames.
  4. Microsoft will use accessibility to get tight with the government.