To understand how leaders in the technology sector prioritize accessible information technology (IT), General Services Administration's Office of Government-wide Policy (GSA OGP) recently conducted some research in this area. We learned that current trends in accessibility and technology promote universal design as a principle that leads to greater innovation, cost-savings, higher employee engagement, and talent retention.
Our goal is to transform the way the federal government approaches accessibility, to move beyond a compliance focus, to one where we create tools and products accessible to all. Agency Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are key players in shaping accessible IT strategy and introducing the concept of universal design at their agencies.
To help CIOs explain the benefits of universal design, we created an infographic that outlines three key benefits of universal design. We hope that CIOs, 508 Program Coordinators, and customer advocates throughout the federal government will find it helpful to build a case for universal design at their agencies. We recommend getting started by creating actionable digital goals that use universal design principles, as outlined in the recent article Universal Design: What is it?. Accessibility cannot be an afterthought. It must be a key component of IT strategy from the beginning.
Benefits of Universal Design
The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design defines universal design as "the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability."
Three key benefits for federal agencies who adopt universal design:
1. Save Money
Universal Design costs less in the long term, as "unmet and unforeseen" user requirements can be captured in the beginning, instead of being tacked on later, often at additional expense.
Did you know? For every dollar spent on projects and programs, 5.1 percent is wasted due to poor requirements gathering. 
2. Drive Innovation
Universal Design leads to better, innovative products, as multidisciplinary teams work together to address unique user requirements, creating solutions that are accessible for all.
Did you know? By 2021, early adopter brands that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will increase digital commerce revenue by 30 percent. 
3. Engage the Workforce
Universal Design empowers more employees to use and access content, making it easier to attract, retain and develop employees with and without disabilities.
Did you know? Emerging technologies will allow 350 million people with disabilities to enter the workplace over the next 10 years. 
Commit to accessible IT by embracing
Want to learn more about universal design and accessibility? Check out these blog posts on Section508.gov:
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org (link sends e-mail)
"Requirements Management - A Core Competency for Project and Program Success", PMIís Pulse of the Profession, 2014
"Top Strategic Predictions for 2018 and Beyond: Pace Yourself, for Sanity's Sake", Gartner, 2017
"Maverick* Research: From Disability to Superability, Society and the Workplace Are Changing", Gartner, 2016