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Adam Turner

18 key statistics about web accessibility for 2021

Accessibility


One of our most popular posts from 2020 covered key web accessibility statistics. We’ve now updated and expanded this for 2021.

The numbers below reinforce the importance of web and digital accessibility and show the value it can bring; it also reflects slow progress. However, we remain optimistic, and there are signs that awareness about digital accessibility is increasing.

You can use these numbers in a business case to invest in improving web accessibility, in conversations with stakeholders or to galvanise action from your colleagues. We’ve divided the numbers into different sections:

  • the extent of the audience impacted by web accessibility
  • why it’s so important to invest in web accessibility
  • statistics relating to the legal risk
  • the growth of diversity and inclusion efforts
  • the actual progress we are making.

The extent of disability

Many people are surprised at the volume of the general population who have disabilities which will be impacted by website accessibility.

  1. The latest figures from Scope, sourced from UK government figures, show that there are now 14.1 million disabled people in the UK, including 19% of working age adults and 44% of pension age adults in the UK.
  2. According to the RNIB, estimates suggest that there are more than 2 million people in Britain living with significant sight loss. It is estimated this will increase to 2.7 million by 2030 and 4 million by 2050.
  3. According to Colourblindawareness.org, approximately 1 in 12 adult males and 1 in 200 adult females have some form of colour blindness. That represents about 3 million people in Britain and 300 million people worldwide.
  4. According to the NHS, it is estimated about 1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability, with 350,000 of these severe.
  5. According to the CDC in the US, approximately 61 million adults in the US live with a disability, representing about 1 in 4 adults.

Value of investing in web accessibility

There are multiple reasons why organisations should invest in website accessibility, one of them being the spending power of the disabled population and the opportunities this presents.

  1. The spending power of disabled people and their families in the UK (sometimes known as the Purple Pound) was estimated to be about £274 billion per year in 2018.
  2. In the US, the disposable income of working age people with disabilities after tax is estimated to be about $490 billion per year.
  3. Research from the “Click Away Pound Report”, which covers the accessibility of online shopping, suggests that £17.1 billion of revenue is lost in the UK each year because nearly 70% of shoppers with accessibility issues leave an e-commerce site due to poor accessibility.

Legal risks

The risks associated with an increasingly litigious climate are a major driver for moving towards accessibility compliance.

  1. Research on the number of lawsuits related to web and app accessibility filed in the US based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) shows a sharp increase over the last four years, with levels tripling between 2017 and 2018, and 2019.
  2. Separate research from law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP suggests that 2019 was a record level for ADA Title III federal lawsuits in the US, with over 11,000, a year-on-year increase of 8.8%. The 2020 figures should be coming soon.
  3. According to the 2020 State of Digital Accessibility Survey covering the views of over 1000 accessibility professionals, 24% of organisations have been sued or received a legal demand letter relating to digital accessibility. Subsequently 60% of organisations have moved faster towards compliance because of litigation trends. While this predominantly relates to US litigation, the UK seems likely to follow.

Diversity & Inclusion

Organisations are increasingly focusing on Diversity & Inclusion (D&I); here digital accessibility should always be covered by a commitment to better D&I.

  1. According to the 2020 State of Digital Accessibility Survey “be inclusive of people with disabilities” is the most popular driver of digital accessibility with 68% of organisations citing this.
  2. 2019 research published in the Harvard Business Review suggests that 96 to 98% of large companies (above 1,000 employees) have a formal Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) programme. In our view, a D&I programme must advocate website accessibility.
  3. According to the 2020 State of Digital Accessibility Survey while 94% of accessibility professionals believe it’s important to involve disabled people in testing, 56% of the organizations they work for do not actually do so.

Progress

Despite all of the above, there is still clearly a lot of work to do to improve website accessibility.

  1. According to the latest annual Access Survey which concerns the accessibility of public places including businesses, 93% of disabled people look for information about the accessibility of a place before visiting it for the first time, but 70% have to refer to two or more sources.
  2. According to WebAIM’s latest Screen Reader survey completed by over 1,000 users who regularly use screen readers and are mainly disabled, 60% feel the accessibility of web content has either not changed or actually got worse over the past year. Over 70% believe this is due to a lack of awareness or skills around web accessibility.
  3. According to a survey of digital accessibility professionals, COVID-19 and its impact has raised awareness about digital accessibility in 62% of organisations.
  4. Sitemorse’s INDEX provides independent benchmarking and gives a range of metrics each quarter for different sectors. Our latest Q1 INDEX of UK government and public bodies assesses accessibility across over 300 organisations, a sector where all websites should have AA level compliance with the WCAG 2.1 guidelines. Despite this imperative around compliance, the last report shows No organisations passed the WCAG 2.1 Level A and AA tests on 100% of their web pages and 16 organisations failed the level A and AA tests on every page. Indeed nearly 96% of web pages failed the level A tests and 40% failed the level AA tests.”

More work to do

The accessibility of your website is important. When we compile these numbers next year, let’s hope they reflect better progress made. All websites should be accessible and fully compliant.

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