Accessibility and social inclusion: an empirical investigation on the adoption of World Wide Web Consortium guidelines on corporate websites
Keywords:accessibility; inclusion; sustainability; W3C; corporate website
Frame of the research: The research focuses on the web accessibility practices of corporate websites. These practices are part of corporate sustainability actions.
Purpose of the paper: To assess compliance with the principles of the social inclusion of disabled users, the study investigates the adoption of accessibility requirements on the sustainable firms’ corporate websites.
Methodology: A content analysis was conducted to identify the application of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines to the websites of 311 firms classified in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index 2018. Data were collected from July to December 2019.
Findings: Results show that most corporate websites are poorly compliant with the accessibility guidelines, although some sectoral and geographic differences emerge. The study shows that compliance with W3C standards is associated with both the belonging to different business activities and the geographical origin of companies.
Research limits: The adoption of the content analysis method implies the typical limits associated with the subjective evaluation of researchers. The sample of firms examined may be expanded in future investigations, in compliance with the equitable distribution of companies regarding sectors and geographical areas.
Practical implications: Results allow managers and consultants of corporate digital communications to evaluate and improve corporate performance relating to accessibility practices on websites. Access to digital content and services is an indispensable requirement for implementing sustainability actions, capable of increasing social legitimacy and corporate reputation and developing disabled users’ engagement.
Originality of the paper: The study constitutes a first step in a line of research not yet investigated. The paper contributes to the debate on online accessibility for disabled users, providing the first empirical evidence on international guideline adoption by sustainable firms.
ADAM A., KREPS D. (2009), “Disability and discourses of web accessibility”, Information, Communication and Society, vol. 12, n. 7, pp. 1041-1058.
ADELOPO I., MOURE R.C., PRECIADO L.V., OBALOLA M. (2012), “Determinants of web‐accessibility of corporate social responsibility communications”, Journal of Global Responsibility, vol. 3, n. 2, pp. 235-247.
AKSAK E.O., FERGUSON M. A., DUMAN S.A. (2016), “Corporate social responsibility and CSR fit as predictors of corporate reputation: A global perspective”, Public Relations Review, vol. 42, n. 1, pp. 79-81.
ANDERBERG P., JÖNSSON B. (2005), “Being there”, Disability and Society, vol. 20, n. 7, pp. 719-733.
ARENA M., AZZONE G., MAPELLI F. (2019), “Corporate Social Responsibility strategies in the utilities sector: A comparative study”, Sustainable Production and Consumption, vol. 18, n. 2, pp. 83-95.
BABIN L.A., KOPP J. (2020), “ADA Website Accessibility: What Businesses Need to Know”, Journal of Management Policy and Practice, vol. 21, n. 3, pp. 99-107.
BALL P., MONACO G., SCHMELING J., SCHARTZ H., BLANCK P. (2005), “Disability as 0diversity in Fortune 100 companies”, Behavioral Sciences and the Law, vol. 23, n. 1, pp. 97-121.
BARONI F., LAZZARI M. (2013), “Tecnologie informatiche e diritti umani per un nuovo approccio all’accessibilità”, Italian Journal of Disability Studies, vol. 1, n. 1, pp. 79-92.
BEATTIE V., MCINNES B., FEARNLEY S. (2004), “A methodology for analysing and evaluating narratives in annual reports: A comprehensive descriptive profile and metrics for disclosure quality attributes”, Accounting Forum, vol. 28, n. 3, pp. 205-236.
BENTIVEGNA S. (2009), Disuguaglianze digitali, Laterza, Roma-Bari.
BLANCK P. (2014), “The struggle for web eQuality by persons with cognitive disabilities”, Behavioral Sciences and the Law, vol. 32, n. 1, pp. 4-32.
BRAUN V., CLARKE V. (2006), “Using thematic analysis in psychology”, Qualitative Research in Psychology, vol. 3, n. 2, pp. 77-101.
BROPHY P., CRAVEN J. (2007), “Web Accessibility”, Library Trends, vol. 55, n. 4, pp. 950-972
CAPRIOTTI P., MORENO A. (2007), “Corporate citizenship and public relations: The importance and interactivity of social responsibility issues on corporate websites”, Public Relations Review, vol. 33, n. 1, pp. 84-91.
CASTELO BRANCO M., DELGADO C., SÁ M., SOUSA C. (2014), “Comparing CSR com-munication on corporate web sites in Sweden and Spain”, Baltic Journal of Management, vol. 9, n. 2, pp. 231-250.
CHEUNG A.W.K. (2011), “Do stock investors value corporate sustainability? Evidence from an event study”, Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 99, n. 2, pp. 145-165.
CHEVALIER A., KICKA M. (2006), “Web designers and web users: Influence of the er-gonomic quality of the web site on the information search”, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, vol. 64, n. 10, pp. 1031-1048.
COLEMAN R., CLARKSON J.O.H.N., CASSIM J. (2016), Design for inclusivity: A practical guide to accessible, innovative and user-centred design, Routledge CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.
DE ANDRÉS J., LORCA P., MARTÍNEZ A.B. (2010), “Factors influencing web accessibility of big listed firms: an international study”, Online Information Review, vol. 34, n. 1, pp. 75-97.
DI GIORGI R.M., BARGELLINI F. (2006), “L'accessibilità e l'usabilità dei siti web delle Pubbliche Amministrazioni: due strumenti per l'e-participation”, Informatica e diritto, vol. 15, n. 1, pp. 71-94.
DOBERS P., HALME M. (2009), “Corporate social responsibility and developing countries”, Corporate social responsibility and environmental management, vol. 16, n. 5, pp. 237-249.
ELLCESSOR E. (2010), “Bridging disability divides: A critical history of web content accessibility through 2001”, Information, Communication and Society, vol. 13, n. 3, pp. 289-308.
FERNANDO S., LAWRENCE S. (2014), “A theoretical framework for CSR practices: Integrating legitimacy theory, stakeholder theory and institutional theory”, Journal of Theoretical Accounting Research, vol. 10, n. 1, pp. 149-178.
FLAK O., PYSZKA A. (2011), “The Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility (Csr) on Companies? Competitiveness? Proposed Research Directions”, Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Economics and Economic Policy, vol. 6, n. 4, pp. 39-52.
FOMBRUN C.J., VAN RIEL C.B.M. (2004), Fame & Fortune. How Successful Companies Build Winning Reputations, Prentice-Hall, Financial Times, Upper Suddle River, NJ.
FRIEDMAN A.L., MILES S. (2006), Stakeholders: Theory and practice, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
GAMBETTI R.C., MELEWAR T.C., MARTIN K.D. (2017), “Guest Editors Introduction: Ethical Management of Intangible Assets in Contemporary Organizations”, Business Ethics Quarterly, vol. 27, n. 3, pp. 381-392.
GODFREY P.C., HATCH N.W. (2007), “Researching corporate social responsibility: An agenda for the 21st century”, Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 70, n. 1, pp. 87-98.
GOGGIN G., NEWELL C. (2003), Digital disability: the social construction of disability in new media, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Lanham.
GOLINELLI G.M., VOLPE L. (2012), Consonanza, valore, sostenibilità. Verso l’impresa sostenibile, Cedam, Padova.
GOULD R., HARRIS S.P., MULLIN C., JONES R. (2020), “Disability, diversity, and corporate social responsibility: learning from recognized leaders in inclusion”, Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, vol. 52, n. 1, pp. 29-42.
GREENWOOD M. (2007), “Stakeholder Engagement: Beyond the Myth of Corporate Responsibility”, Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 74, n. 4, pp. 315-327.
ILLIA L., ROMENTI S., RODRÍGUEZ-CÁNOVAS B., MURTARELLI G., CARROL C.E. (2017), “Exploring corporations' dialogue about CSR in the digital era”, Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 46, n. 1, pp. 39-58.
JARVINEN J., TOLLINEN A., KARJALUOTO H., JAYAWARDHENA C. (2012), “Digital and social media marketing usage in B2B industrial section”, Marketing Management Journal, vol. 22, n. 2, pp. 102-117.
JOAN B. (2003), “E-service quality and the public sector”, Managing Service Quality, vol. 13, n. 6, pp. 453-462.
KADYAN J.S. (2017), “Growth and Development of CSR–Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe”, International Journal of Scientific Research and Management, vol. 5, n. 6, pp. 5574-5581.
KATERATTANAKUL P., HONG S., LEE H.M., KAM H.J. (2018), “The effects of web accessibility certification on the perception of companies’ corporate social responsibility”, Universal Access in the Information Society, vol. 17, n. 1, pp. 161-173.
KELLY B., NEVILE L., SLOAN D., FANOU S., ELLISON R., HERROD L. (2009), “From web accessibility to web adaptability”, Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, vol. 4, n. 4, pp. 212-226.
KILIAN T., HENNINGS N. (2014), “Corporate social responsibility and environmental reporting in controversial industries”, European Business Review, vol. 26, n. 1, pp. 79-101.
KLIRONOMOS I., ANTONA M., BASDEKIS I., STEPHANIDIS C. (2006), “White paper: Promoting design for all and e-accessibility in Europe”, Universal Access in the Information Society, vol. 5, n. 1, pp. 105-119.
KRIPPENDORFF K. (2012), Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology, Sage, Thousand Oaks.
KRUNIC T., RUZIC-DIMITRIJEVIC L. (2007), “Condition of Web accessibility in practice and suggestions for its improvement”, Informing Science, vol. 10, pp. 71-89.
KUZMA J., WEISENBORN G., PHILIPPE T., GABEL A., DOLECHEK R. (2009), “Analysis of US senate web sites for disability accessibility”, International Journal of Business Research, vol. 9, n. 6, pp. 174-181.
KUZMA J., LAW J., BELL V., WILLIAMS N. (2017), “A Study of global hospital websites for accessibility compliance”, European Journal of Business and Social Sciences, vol. 6, n. 6, pp. 15-28.
JACKSON G., APOSTOLAKOU A. (2010), “Corporate social responsibility inWestern Europe: An institutional mirror or substitute?”, Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 94, n. 3, pp. 371-394.
LAZZARI M. (2012), “La Convenzione delle Nazioni Unite sui diritti delle persone con disabilità e le tecnologie telematiche”, in Osio O., Braibanti P. (Eds.), Il diritto ai diritti, Franco Angeli, Milano (pp. 77-82).
LEE S.M., HONG S.G., AN D.H., LEE H.M. (2014), “Disability users’ evaluation of the web accessibility of SNS”, Service Business, vol. 8, n. 4, pp. 517-540.
LEITNER M.L., STRAUSS C., STUMMER C. (2016), “Web accessibility implementation in private sector organizations: motivations and business impact”, Universal Access in the Information Society, vol. 15, n. 2, pp. 249-260.
LINDAHL N. (2006), “Managing website quality: techniques for auditing visibility, usability, and accessibility”, Proceedings of Applied Management and Decision Sciences, Dallas, TX, USA, January 20.
LOIACONO E.T., DJAMASBI S. (2013), “Corporate website accessibility: does legislation matter?”, Universal Access in the Information Society, vol. 12, n. 1, pp. 115-124.
LÓPEZ M.V., GARCIA A., RODRIGUEZ L. (2007), “Sustainable development and corporate performance: A study based on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index”, Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 75, n. 3, pp. 285-300.
LUO Y., ZHENG Q., MAKSIMOV V. (2015), “Achieving legitimacy through CSR: Compliance vs. strategic adaptation to stakeholder pressures”, Journal of World Business, vol. 50, n. 3, pp. 389-403.
MARETTI G. (2003), “Introduzione al tema dell'accessibilità al Web”, Bollettino del CILEA, vol. 87, pp. 24-26.
MARTÍNEZ A.B., DE ANDRÉS J., GARCÍA J. (2014), “Determinants of the Web accessibility of European banks”, Information Processing and Management, vol. 50, n. 1, pp. 69-86.
MATHUR V.N., PRICE A.D., AUSTIN, S. (2008), “Conceptualizing stakeholder engagement in the context of sustainability and its assessment”, Construction Management and Economics, vol. 26, n. 6, pp. 601-609.
MICH L., FRANCH M., GAIO L. (2003), “Evaluating and designing web site quality”, Multi Media IEEE, vol. 10, n. 1, pp. 34-43.
MORENO A., CAPRIOTTI P. (2009), “Communicating CSR, citizenship and sustainability on the web”, Journal of Communication Management, vol. 13, n. 2, p.157-175.
NIELSEN J. (2000), Web usability, Apogeo Editore, Milano.
PERSSON H., ÅHMAN H., YNGLING A.A., GULLIKSEN J. (2015), “Universal design, inclusive design, accessible design, design for all: different concepts-one goal? On the concept of accessibility-historical, methodological and philosophical aspects”, Universal Access in the Information Society, vol. 14, n. 4, pp. 505-526.
PICCI L. (2002), “Le linee guida per l’accessibilità del World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)”, in Ridolfi P. (Ed.), I disabili nella società dell’Informazione. Norme e tecnologie, FrancoAngeli, Milano.
POLILLO R. (2006), Plasmare il web: Road map per siti di qualità, Apogeo, Milano.
PORTER M.E., KRAMER M.R. (2011), “Creating shared value. How to reinvent capitalism and unleash a wave of innovation and growth”, Harvard Business Review, vol. 89, n. 1/2, pp. 62-77.
PRADO‐LORENZO J.M., GALLEGO-ALVAREZ I., GARCIA-SANCHEZ I.M. (2009), “Stakeholder engagement and corporate social responsibility reporting: the ownership structure effect”, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, vol. 16, n. 2, pp. 94-107.
QUADDUS M.A., SIDDIQUE M.A.B. (2011), Handbook of Corporate Sustainability: Frameworks, Strategy and Tools, Edward Elgar Publishing, London.
SANIL H.S., RAMAKRISHNAN S. (2015), “Communicating the corporate social responsibility on the company website: A study conducted on worldwide responsible accredited production certified apparel manufacturers in India”, International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, vol. 5, n. 5, pp. 52-56.
SARTORI L. (2006), Il divario digitale: Internet e le nuove disuguaglianze sociali, Il Mulino, Bologna.
SAVIANO M., BASSANO C., PICIOCCHI P., DI NAUTA P., LETTIERI M. (2018), “Monitoring Viability and Sustainability in Healthcare Organizations”, Sustainability, vol. 10, n. 10, pp. 3548-3557.
SAVITZ A., WEBER K. (2006), The Triple bottom Line, How Today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success, and how you can too, Jossey Bass, San Francisco.
SEURING S., MÜLLER M. (2008), “From a literature review to a conceptual framework for sustainable supply chain management”, Journal of cleaner Production, vol. 16, n. 15, pp. 1699-1710.
SEYMOUR W. (2004), “Holding the line online: exploring wired relationships for people with disabilities”, Disability and Society, vol. 19, n. 4, pp. 291-305.
SIANO A., CONTE F. (2018), La sostenibilità viaggia nel web. Valutare e migliorare la comunicazione delle organizzazioni sostenibili nell’era della digital analytics, FrancoAngeli, Milano.
SIANO A., CONTE F., AMABILE S., VOLLERO A., PICIOCCHI P. (2016), “Communicating Sustainability: An Operational Model for Evaluating Corporate Websites”, Sustainability, vol. 8, n. 9, pp. 950-966.
SILVESTRI D., DUCCI T. (2004), “Accessibilità e usabilità nei siti istituzionali: tra normativa, aspettative del committente ed esigenze dei navigatori”, AIDA Informazioni: rivista di Scienze dell'informazione, vol. 22, n. 3, pp. 21-33.
SMITH K.T. (2017), “Longitudinal analysis of corporate social responsibility on company websites”, Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, vol. 80, n. 1, pp. 70-90.
SPELLMAN J., MONTGOMERY R., LAURIAT S., COOPER M. (2021), W3C Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 3.0. Accessibile al link: https://www.w3.org/TR/wcag-3.0/
VAN DIJK J. (2020), The digital divide, John Wiley & Sons, New York.
VIGLIA G., PERA R., BIGNÉ E. (2018), “The determinants of stakeholder engagement in digital platforms”, Journal of Business Research, vol. 89, n. 1, pp. 404-410.
VOLLERO A., CONTE F., SIANO A., COVUCCI C. (2019), “Corporate social responsibility information and involvement strategies in controversial industries”, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, vol. 26, n. 1, pp. 141-151.
WILLIAMS S.M., PEI C.H.W. (1999), “Corporate Social Disclosures by Listed Companies on their Web Sites: An International Comparison”, The International Journal of Accounting, vol. 34, n. 3, pp. 389-419.
WORLD WIDE WEB CONSORTIUM (W3C) (2018), Web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, accessibile al link: https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/
ZACCARIA R., VALASTRO A. (1998), Diritto dell’informazione e della comunicazione, Cedam, Padova.