5th European eAccessibility Forum
Benefits and costs of e-accessibility

28/03/2011, 9:00 - 18:00
Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie - 30 Avenue Corentin Cariou 75019 - Paris, France

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Economic appraisal of universal design in transport: Experiences from Norway and applicability to ICT

James Odeck (Norway)
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway And Norwegian Public Roads Administration

Speaker's information

photo James Odeck

Professor James ODECK specialises in applied transport economics, production economics and performance measurement.  His research includes  valuation of impacts, benefit-cost analysis, road pricing, and price elasticities in transport, cost estimations of infrastructure projects, efficiency and productivity measurement using econometric methods. He teaches at Molde University College and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
Summary :Norway has recently developed an economic assessment framework for Universal Design projects. Universal Design (UD) refers to the design of transport systems in a way that they are accessible to all users, irrespective of the users’ abilities. The framework demonstrates that   that UD projects are surprisingly profitable from a socioeconomic point of view because UD, despite that they are aimed at those with disabilities, they are a benefit to all. This presentation deals with the Norwegian framework for economic assessment of UD and argues that it represents a potential model for application in the ICT domain. It claims that measures or projects aimed at equal access to ICT are parallel to those of UD and, hence are likely to be profitable from socioeconomic point of view.



Warning : The short papers of this conference have been prepared by BrailleNet who accept any responsibility for them. But presentation materials provided for download (full-papers or slides) have been provided by the authors themselves.

Universal Design (UD) refers to design (in transportation mainly) so that it will be accessible to every users, not considering their abilities.

An evaluation framework, recently developed in Norway, demonstrates that UD projects are greatly profitable from a socio-economic viewpoint. Indeed, even if UD addresses primarily users with disability, it is actually beneficial for everyone. At the very heart of the Norwegian framework lies a new perspective on UD: UD benefits all types of users but is necessary for some. Therefore, argues James Odeck, to evaluate economically UD benefits, one must take into account which advantages are gained for everyone.

For example, a low-floored bus benefits wheelchair users as well as those with baby strollers. But also, because wheelchair and stroller users can get faster on board, all others users can also get faster on board. Then, all others passengers on board also save travel time. And finally, bus operators may increase their efficiencies.

To assess UD benefits, it is important to detail every benefits coming from its implementation. These benefits can be evaluated with a stated preference method; in others words, through polls asking users how much they value each UD improvement. It appears then that benefits exceed largely UD costs.

This analysis can be made for e-accessibility considering that e-accessibility investments benefit everyone. By analogy, it reveals also that projects aimed at promoting an equal access to ICT are probably beneficial socio-economically.


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