Ten key statistics about web accessibility

11 Mar 2020 | Accessibility

Adam Turner
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To be blunt, ensuring your website meets the WCAG 2.1 guidelines on website accessibility is now an absolute no-brainer: in many cases not only it is now a legal requirement and a regulatory requirement, but it has solid commercial benefits and it improves usability for everybody. In short, it’s ‘the right thing to do’. Not being compliant could lead to a significant risk of legal action and brand damage. The cost of compliance is very low compared to general spending on digital channels. Why wouldn’t you want to make your website fully accessible?

There are plenty of statistics out which not only make a solid business case for website accessibility but also show that progress is slower than it should be.  While we are generally optimistic that this is rapidly becoming an issue that nobody will no longer be able to ignore, there are still some stakeholders out there at large who need convincing.

Here’s ten interesting and useful statistics relating to website accessibility. You can use these in a business case or as a conversation opener with your stakeholders. These numbers help to show:

  • the extent of the audience impacted by website accessibility
  • why it’s so important to invest in accessibility
  • how there is still a lot of progress to make.

The extent of disability

Many people are surprised at the volume of the general population (and therefore your site visitors) who have disabilities which will be impacted by website accessibility.

  1. According to Scope and quoting UK government figures, there are approximately 13.9 million disabled people in the UK, including 19% of working age adults.
  2. According to the RNIB there are approximately 2 million people in Britain living with sight loss that is severe enough  to have a significant impact on their daily lives.
  3. According to Colourblindawareness.org, approximately 1 in 8 of 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.

Why it’s important to invest in web accessibility

There are multiple reasons why organisations should invest in website accessibility, including the spending power of the disabled population (and what they do if a website is not accessible), as well the risks associated with an increasingly litigious climate.

  1. A 2017 report from the BBC suggests that the disabled population in the UK spends approximately £249 billion pounds per year.
  2. A Forbes article quotes a 2016 survey which suggests 71% of users with disabilities will leave a website that is not accessible.
  3. Research on the number of lawsuits related to web and app accessibility filed in the US based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) show a sharp increase over the last four years, with tripling between 2017 and 2018, and 2019 maintaining that high level with over 2,000 lawsuits. Of course, some of these, such as the one involving Dominio’s, have become very well-known.
  4. 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.

There is still a lot of progress to make

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

  1. According to WebAIM’s latest Screen Reader survey completed by over 1,000 users whom 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.
  2. Sitemorse’s  latest Q1 INDEX of local government websites assesses accessibility across over 400 local government authorities, a sector where all new websites had to be compliant with WCAG 2.1 guidelines by September 2019, with all websites compliant by September 2020.

Despite the legal imperative, only two authorities scored 100% compliance on all pages. A fifth scored less than four out of ten and a surprising 14% scored zero for accessibility!

Let’s create more encouraging statistics!

The accessibility of your website is important but not all organisations take it seriously. Let’s work together so the next time we compile accessibility statistics they reflect better progress made. All websites should be accessible and fully compliant.