- 35% of organisations involved in the study said they would launch digital products with known accessibility issues
- Just 14% check that digital products created for them by external suppliers meet accessibility requirements
- Almost half of organisations (47%) do not have a board member responsible for digital accessibility
Failure to create digitally accessible products and services is putting both public and private sector organisations at risk of costly litigation, with a new benchmarking study revealing an average score of just 24% for their capabilities in this area.
More than a third (37%) of organisations are launching digital products without conducting accessibility checks. In addition, one in three (35%) said they would still proceed with a launch even if they knew the product wasn’t accessible, and one in five (22%) respondents said that accessibility is not considered when new digital products are in development.
The report - An Immature Response? Why organisations are failing to build digitally accessible product and services - provides a detailed picture of maturity levels in digital accessibility in nine key areas. It is based on the responses of over 300 public and private organisations to the ISO 30071 Digital Accessibility Maturity Scorecard Survey – a 62-question organisational audit developed by Hassell Inclusion, co-authors of the International Standard ISO 30071-1.
The poor performance revealed by the report can be tracked to the very top of an organisation, where the research highlights a lack of awareness and ownership among the C-suite. Just one in four (26%) CEOs and financial directors involved in the study were aware of and committed to their digital accessibility obligations, and nearly half of organisations (47%) said that they did not have a board member responsible for digital accessibility.
Consequently, at an operational level – where the delivery of digital accessibility is most dependent - over a third (36%) of product managers aren’t aware of their responsibility for ensuring digital products are accessible, and almost half (43%) said that digital accessibility is only driven by the personal motivation of individuals.
Many public and private sector organisations use third-party suppliers to create their digital products, and yet just 32% said they stipulate digital accessibility as a contractual requirement. Meanwhile, only 14% check that digital products created by their suppliers meet accessibility requirements.
Despite these failings at a practical and strategic level, the analysis revealed that there is a high motivation among businesses to address gaps in digital accessibility, with an average score of 77%. However, these good intentions are not being backed up by investment in training to increase the capability to deliver – just 5% of organisations deliver digital accessibility training across all employees, and only 6% said they always check that external suppliers are trained in digital accessibility.
Jonathan Hassell, CEO at Hassell Inclusion, comments:
“We are increasingly relying on working, shopping, learning and being entertained in a digital environment, so it’s more important than ever that it is accessible for everyone. However, this data shows that there are often major gaps when it comes to making digital products accessible. It’s particularly concerning that so many organisations would launch a product with known accessibility issues. This is not only discriminatory, it also makes little commercial and reputational sense.
“Having a proactive approach to embedding digital accessibility in processes and people’s skills can be the key to unlocking potential revenue streams and attracting talented staff.”
The data also reveals that organisations are failing to demonstrate the commercial opportunity of embedding digital accessibility. Only 5% track spend on digital accessibility and 62% don’t measure its return on investment, which, according to Jonathan Hassell, could explain why digital accessibility isn’t getting the senior-level attention it deserves:
“To secure continued buy-in for digital accessibility at a senior level, it is crucial to demonstrate tangible commercial outcomes from investing in the tools, training and expertise required to deliver accessible products. This rarely happens, leading to board appetite for accessibility fluctuating based on the prevalence of public legal cases rather than its proven benefits to the organisation.”
Jonathan Hassell concludes:
“It is encouraging that there is a high motivation among the respondents to ‘do better’ when it comes to digital accessibility, and there are already many organisations that are leading the way. There is clearly a need to address the disconnect between desire to improve and actual action, but the opportunity is huge.
“This report provides practical advice for organisations on how to improve their approach to digital accessibility. For example, a great place to start is aligning your approach with the International Standard for digital accessibility - ISO 30071-1 – as this provides a comprehensive roadmap to best practice.
“Demonstrating a maturity in digital accessibility is the mark of an organisation with an innovative and trailblazing approach to diversity, equality and inclusion. Before too long it will be expected of everyone. So can you afford to get left behind?”
The report - An Immature Response? Why organisations are failing to build digitally accessible product and services – can be downloaded here.