WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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RE: The Commercialization of Web Accessibility


From: Paul Bohman
Date: Dec 18, 2001 4:27PM

All of your points are good ones, Kynn, and interesting. In a way, the
increased potential for making a profit from Web accessibility issues is
indicative of the "coming of age" of the idea.

Certain aspects of web accessibility are a good fit for commercialization.
Training, consulting, and design services, for example. Software is another
good example. Other things are not as good a fit. Web accessibility
standards, for example, are still best arrived at by consensus. There is
little reason to try to commercialize the process of standard-setting at
this point--at least none that I can think of.

Personally, I don't see web accessibility as a very enticing means to
financial success. I think that there will be some people and some companies
that make money off of it--maybe quite a bit of money, but I think that most
people will make only a modest amount, if any, in this field. I could be
wrong, but that is just an impression that I have. There are certainly many
avenues to explore, and many niches to fill, but most of the advances will
be made by smaller groups, without too strong of a profit motive, I think.
It doesn't have to be that way, but that is how I see things going in the
near future.

For the most part, WebAIM offers free information to anyone who wants it.
"Come to our Web site and get it" -- that is our approach (and, by the way,
our site has been in the process of a total redesign for some time now, with
more expanded information and resources, but I have to be patient and wait
until all the pieces are together before letting everyone else see it,
unfortunately)... But we have also offered classes (for university credit,
which explains the price difference, Kynn :-) -- we actually don't make much
in the process) and consulting services for a fee. Are we getting rich in
the process? Hardly. It's just a matter of possessing a certain expertise,
and making it worth our time to train others. The information on our site is
still free, even if our consulting services are not.

Perhaps it is only through commercialization that more significant advances
can be made. Maybe we should be welcoming the infiltration of money into the
system. Maybe by stepping away from the "academic" approach that everyone
has been taking, and venturing into the "customer satisfaction" approach, we
will finally see more practical results, and see them more quickly.

At the same time, profiteering has the tendency to simplify and marginalize
the needs of minority interests, because such interests do not always
satisfy the need for profit. Only time will tell how things play out here.

Maybe we're just waiting for the right idea to pursue. As with any business
venture, it takes the right idea, the right people, the best marketing, and
solid determination.

So much for my random thoughts.

Paul Bohman
Technology Coordinator
WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind)
Utah State University

- -----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM forum [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]On Behalf Of
Kynn Bartlett

Thinking on the matter further, though, has got me thinking about
the commercialization of web accessibility -- about increasing moves
away from simple grass-roots help and toward the idea of web
accessibilty as a business model...