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Web Accessibility – Why Comply?

Access – a global issue

The continuing development of policy and legislation for web accessibility reflects a world-wide movement towards social inclusion, based on the democratic principle that citizens with disabilities have the right to enjoy access to information, work opportunities, transport and the built environment on as equal a basis as possible.

The social and practical benefits of such an approach are increasingly recognised in countries with ageing populations in which the numbers of people with impaired vision and mobility are increasing dramatically. Empowering people with disabilities benefits society as they contribute their talents and purchasing power.

Benefits of web accessibility

Modifications to buildings and public transport facilities are now commonplace, and as businesses such as Tesco have realised, the benefits of extending the accessibility concept into the online environment are similar. Web accessibility means greater usability for everyone, and there is evidence that this makes accessible web sites more efficient in marketing terms. As well as enhancing the company's reputation for social responsibility and good customer service, more web site traffic means more potential sales. Compliance in this case represents a good investment.


Despite its proven benefits, implementation of web accessibility is still far from universal, and legislation has a key role in enforcing standards. In the last two decades more than 20 countries and states including the EU, USA and Australia have either passed web accessibility legislation or have formulated clear policies.

For legislators, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 1.0) developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) have become the de facto standard underpinning best practice – Ireland's National Disability Authority has even incorporated them in its Code of Practice.

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