Responding to accessibility issues in business

Law, C 2010, Responding to accessibility issues in business, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Business Information Technology, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Responding to accessibility issues in business
Author(s) Law, C
Year 2010
Abstract Problems that many people with disabilities (PWDs) experience as a part of their everyday lives are the result of decisions made by people in mainstream businesses. Businesses in Australia have no legal obligation to make their products and services directly accessible to PWDs. However, many businesses make accessibility commitments without a legal mandate. They see accessibility as providing a wider social benefit, or they see it as a means to increase the size of their consumer base. This study examined what people in mainstream businesses do in response to issues that affect the accessibility of their products and services. This study has taken a new approach to investigating root causes of some of the problems that PWDs experience, an approach that places business activities at the centre of the study.
A grounded theory study was conducted to answer the research question, ‘What organizational factors are involved in successfully addressing the needs of customers with disabilities in the design, development and delivery of products and services?’ Twenty-eight interviews were conducted at ten mainstream businesses in Australia: three museums, five primarily service-oriented businesses (a large airline, a bank, and a theatre complex, a city college, and a sports stadium complex), and the Australian branches of two multinational telephony manufacturers. Stories focus on three main themes: ‘success’, ‘change’, and ‘difficulty’. First, the more successful organizations are presented, where accessibility efforts have been embedded as a part of organizational culture. Second, there is a detailed examination of the efforts of a person working to ‘champion’ accessibility, and having varying degrees of success as an agent of change. Third, the remaining seven businesses are examined together, because each of the seven exhibited a form of difficulty in moving accessibility from being a named ‘priority’ to implementing successful actions throughout the organization.

Seven organizational success factors for addressing the needs of customers with disabilities are presented: (1) adopting the social model of disability; (2) establishing executive-level backing; (3) establishing accessibility as a priority on the agenda; (4) taking a planned, proactive approach; (5) making accessibility a shared task; (6) providing enabling resources; and (7) providing sources of accessibility expertise. The seven success factors answer the research question, and can be considered when approaching accessibility issues from an organization-wide perspective. While the most common difficulty appears to be in making the transition from ‘priority’ to ‘action’, it is hoped that the factors could be applied in a given business as a means of laying the groundwork necessary to enable successful actions.

The list of success factors provides a theoretical framework that might, in the future, be built upon in order to develop analytical and diagnostic tools for examining accessibility-related practices in mainstream businesses. To this end, recommendations are provided for further research towards this goal.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Business Information Technology
Keyword(s) accessability
organizational behaviour
organisational culture
organisational change
grounded theory
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Created: Mon, 29 Nov 2010, 08:51:18 EST
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