Barrier-free design is beneficial for all users. Designing for universal access is not only good social practice, but in general, it is good business practice.
1. 1 in 5 people in the United States has some kind of disability, and an estimated 30 million people are impacted by inaccessible computer and software design.
2. The number of people with disabilities is only increasing, as it has increased 25% in the last decade, especially among those 50 years old and above.
3. Among the 31 million seniors aged 65 and above, 16 million reported some level of disability (Census Brief 97-5).
But accessibility actually affects a much larger percentage of the population, as many people who do not have permanent disabilities have temporary conditions that can affect the way they operate for a period of time. Beyond that, the very young and the very old can also benefit from more accessible design. With this in mind, accessibility in website design should really be thought of as part of universal design.
The Internet has the potential to broaden the lives and increase the independence of people with disabilities. For people who can be physically as well as socially isolated, access to the Internet can offer information about social interaction, cultural activities, employment opportunities, and consumer goods. But, as statistics demonstrate, not many people with disabilities are able to take advantage of these possibilities, in large part because their needs have not been addressed by the web design community.