And here we have the crux of the issue. Guys like Nielsen come in and make edicts, so people consider it an abridgment of their freedom.
Notice how quiet this forum is? I have alerts turned on for it, and I get maybe one or two alerts a week.
Now THAT'S freedom. If no one wants to design an accessible or usable site, then they don't have to. Just like if someone wants to use <table> elements, they have every God-given right to do exactly that.
Just because pundits climb up on soapboxes and make pronouncements is no law.
However, in the US, we have something called Section 508 [section508.gov]. This is, very often, a requirement. I believe that they have something like it in the UK and EU as well.
Section 508 is actually pretty namby-pamby. I generally code WAI Priority 3 [w3.org]. It's really not too difficult at all. I seldom even have to think twice about it.
I actually consider it a challenge to produce fast, accessible and usable sites that can support older browsers, yet provide modern technologies like AJAX and advanced CSS.
It's actually fun, and I have been known to "high five" when I've solved a vexing issue of old browser support or an accessibility issue.