Motivations for accessibilitySaturday, July 12, 2003
Ben Meadowcroft has an interesting piece titled "Site Accessibility Action Taken By RNIB" where he looks into the motivation factors that would help good accessibility factors to take root in UK websites.
Interestingly, Ben points out Tesco as an example of understanding accessibility issues. They created an accessible version of their online shopping services, so they obviously saw the market and sales opportunities this would allow. Unfortunately, a good example of the benefits, Tesco "lite" is also an excellent example the drawbacks of a "text-only-version" approach (this was one of Peter Bosher's comments about websites). Not all the special offers on the main site are available on the accessible version, Highlighting the point that segregation isn't equality.
If Tesco can remedy this inequity on special offers, then it is an excellent practical example of a business using accessibility as a competitive advantage over other retailers. Kudos to Tesco for having the belief in equal opportunities.
However, Tesco's website offers the best reason for its competitors to look at revamping their websites to be accessible - trying to win over the market Tesco have opened up for themselves. Businesses in the UK have an unusual tendancy to follow the leader, even when its a dud. For example, a number of financial institutions lept on the "isa fund supermarket" bandwagon and implemented that online service, all because the pack-leader implemented it first, the others felt compelled to follow suit. Funnily though, the pack-leader realised it was a dud and ditched their idea at the moment the followers caught-up.