Estimating costs for institutional accessibility!

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Hi all, I lead an accessible communications group at the research institute that I work at as production editor – it is still in its infancy, but inspired by the accessible publishing community I have adopted the role of accessibility advocate and the group is taking a paper and presentation to our senior management next month to generate support for embedding born accessibility into our processes and outputs – from publishing to websites, events, social media, imagery, HR, and essentially across the whole institute.

Initially this is an awareness-raising presentation and a call for support and resources to take forward our action plan, but the question that I know I will be asked to investigate and quantify is ‘how much will it cost us’? We are based in the UK and are not an institution that comes under the Public Sector Bodies legislation, and so currently we are not legally required to make our outputs accessible (currently predominantly PDF, but our first EPUB launches in October) – as a result, we have a lot of areas that will need addressing. The group will be proposing that the institute adopts the Public Sector Bodies legislation, so that we create accessible content as standard in line with our affiliated university.

Has anyone any experience of costing adopting born-accessibility on an institutional scale for multiple elements of communications and processes? I am not sure where I should/could begin – it seems quite a daunting process! Luckily I have a great group of colleagues who have expertise in events, comms and marketing, who can help, but none of us is in management and I have not taken on an exercise like this before. Publications is the area that I know most, and I think I can quantify making our PDFs accessible, for example by costing the additional checks, training staff, access to Adobe Pro, and so on, and proposed costs for producing EPUBs alongside our academic PDFs.

All thoughts and advice gratefully received!



I can’t give you a ballpark figure, but hopefully I can help you figure out the way to come to one!

First thing I recommend is documenting the scope of the project.

  • What processes are you looking to make born accessible?
  • How many PDFs/EPUBs/other documents are you producing per year, and how many require remediation?
  • How many staff will require training, and in what areas?
  • Are there any other accessibility concerns (website, email newletters, any other digital properties)?

Once you have the scope documented, I would recommend looking into soliciting proposals from vendors. The reality is, if there’s limited knowledge within the organization, it’s best to bring on vendors to help with any of the processes. You may need more than one depending on your needs (I’ll say in my experience, most of the large Accessibility training/audit companies have no experience with EPUB). There are places that specialize in EPUB and publishing, you might need a few to get you to a complete program. My company uses 3 vendors to meet all of our needs, so it’s not unusual.

The proposals will help give you an idea of cost. When I went through this process before, the ranges of cost did vary a bit, so you will have options. What I do advise is considering the philosophy of your approach as well, you want vendors that align with your philosophy. If you’re looking for born accessible processes with a goal of increasing inclusivity, you might not want a vendor that focuses only on compliance for instance.

If you’re getting pressure to give an upfront estimate to give to management before getting proposals, you’re looking at likely 100-150k minimum (though you’re in the UK, this may be more like 80-120k in pounds, I’m in Canada).

Once you have proposals, it’s a bit easier to really figure out what you need and you have real numbers to work with. It can also help with planning, you may have to space projects out to fit budgets or do things sequentially while waiting on training, etc. Having the information is really helpful though.

I hope this helps!

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