(This blog is coauthored with Gina Bhawalkar.)

Accessibility is one of the hottest topics in design. More and more companies are making it a business priority. We wanted to determine how big of a monetary impact accessibility will have on design technology vendors and services companies offering design.

Based on our analysis, at least $10 billion (and maybe as much as $16B) in design spending in the US and Canada will shift to tech vendors and services companies that commit to accessibility. Not included here is the impact on the rest of the world or the potential shifts that might rock broader tech, marketing, and consulting categories in the US and Canada (e.g., content management systems, customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, tech consulting, etc.).

How’d we calculate this $10B shift?

First, we isolated five industries in the US and Canada where accessibility is having an outsized impact: financial services, healthcare, retail, quick-service restaurants, and education. We looked at: 1) digital accessibility lawsuit data; 2) who Forrester receives inquiries from; and 3) survey responses. In addition, government agencies are required to procure tools that are accessible under Section 508 (a US standard) and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (a Canadian law).

We estimate that these industries account for 50% of design spending in the US and Canada. That’s one number we could use to estimate impact.

Alternately, 36% of respondents to Forrester’s latest annual Global State Of Design Teams Survey say they have “a top-down commitment to accessibility,” with most saying that’s actually being followed through on. And we expect the number of firms to make formal commitments to increase, particularly as more extend their focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion to their customer experience as well as by making the accessibility of experiences a priority — something that we predicted would happen in 2021.

Based on these two numbers, we estimate that 40% of US and Canadian design spending will emphasize accessibility requirements.

The US and Canada are responsible for one-third to one-half of global design spending.

This means that, of the $80B spent globally on services and technologies to support design, between $10B and $16B will be awarded based on commitments to accessibility. Vendors of technologies such as research platforms, prototyping, and survey tools will be forced to upgrade their platforms to sell into these five industries. And services firms that ramp up their knowledge and expertise in accessibility will find new work supporting these businesses’ efforts, while those that don’t will risk losing projects as a result. This will also improve the state of accessibility across all industries as accessibility is integrated into services firms’ methodologies and approaches.

This won’t happen overnight, but already we’re hearing that procurement processes for design tools often require that the platforms are, or have a plan to become, accessible. And already, we’re hearing that accessibility expertise is a critical selection requirement from services firms. It makes sense on both counts — there’s at least $10B riding on these changes.