PEAT Blog

PEAT Talks Recap: Raising the Bar on Accessibility

Is corporate America waking up to the idea that accessibility can be a business driver, not an added expense? In the February PEAT Talk, Dan Sullivan of AudioEye suggested this is already happening.

Dan is a senior executive with 15 years of experience in human resources, now working at AudioEye, an accessible technology company. Dan’s career has given him a firsthand look at how Fortune 500 companies choose and use HR and recruiting technologies.

Dan believes that the most innovative and competitive companies are moving from what he calls a “Web Accessibility 1.0” approach to a “Web Accessibility 2.0” mindset. The 1.0 approach is largely compliance‐driven.This limited approach benefits mostly people who already use assistive technologies to interact with websites. 2.0 takes a larger view, by providing tools and resources within the web experience that benefits a larger audience.

A Forrester Research study from 2004 showed that 57% of computer users are likely or very likely to benefit from the use of accessible technology due to a disability. While this survey is  over a decade old, it still points to the fact that since the majority of users would benefit, accessibility can be a business  differentiator.

Dan pointed to a recent Comcast campaign, “Emily’s Oz,” a campaign designed to educate consumers about accessibility options available through the cable giant. It proved to be incredibly popular, far exceeding Comcast’s expectations in terms of driving sales and inspiring customer loyalty.

What does this mean for employers? Dan pointed out that competition for workers is increasing, with the overall unemployment rate likely to dip below 5% soon. As of January 2016, there were 5.6 million job openings in the United States. How many of these jobs could be filled if technology were   accessible?

HR professionals are in the perfect position to help, because human resources departments are  highly dependent on third‐party technology and they spend literally billions  every year. By requiring accessibility, HR professionals can change the market. Savvy vendors are already starting to catch on, which means  that those vendors that don’t incorporate accessibility will face a competitive disadvantage.

So what is the return on investment, or ROI, on accessible technology in the workplace? Maybe the better calculation to make is the cost of not having accessible technology – with positions that stay vacant, competitors that pull ahead, and customers who go elsewhere.

Check out the PEAT Talks video, and share your thoughts and comments. Do you think companies are starting to view accessibility as a business driver?

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PEAT Talks is a monthly virtual speaker series to showcase organizations and individuals whose work  is advancing accessible technology in the workplace. Held the third Thursday of every month at 2 pm ET, these events are designed to be energetic and interactive discussions highlighting a spectrum of exciting work. Featured speakers will deliver a 10‐ to 15‐ minute talk and then field questions from attendees. To see upcoming events in this series, please visit our calendar.