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Surprising facts and figures about digital accessibility

Explore surprising facts on digital accessibility, including the impact of WCAG failures and the importance of making websites accessible to all.

Digital accessibility, in simple terms, is about making sure that websites, apps, and other digital tools are usable by everyone, regardless of whether they have a disability or not. Imagine you’re trying to visit a website but can’t see well, or you’re using a voice command instead of typing because you can’t use your hands. Digital accessibility ensures that these tools work for you too, just like they would for anyone else.

Here are some surprising facts and figures that highlight the importance of digital accessibility.

Global impact

Web accessibility

The 2024 WebAIM Million report provides a comprehensive analysis of the accessibility of the top 1,000,000 home pages on the internet. The study found that 95.9% of home pages had detected WCAG 2 failures, a slight improvement from the previous year.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Increased accessibility errors: There was a notable increase in the number of detected accessibility errors across the analyzed websites. However, despite this increase, there was a slight decrease in the number of pages failing WCAG conformance checks.
  • Improvement in pages with fewer errors: Pages that previously had fewer errors showed improvement, suggesting that efforts to enhance accessibility are effective. This indicates a positive trend where websites are becoming more accessible over time.
  • Decrease in specific error types: The prevalence of certain error types, such as low contrast text and missing alt text, decreased, pointing towards ongoing efforts to address these common accessibility issues.
  • Sector differences: Certain sectors, like government and education, performed better than others, highlighting the impact of regulations and support systems on improving accessibility.
  • Complexity of home pages: The complexity of home pages increased significantly, with an average of 1173 elements per home page in 2024 compared to 1050 in 2023. This increase in complexity could potentially contribute to more accessibility challenges.
  • Technology usage impact: Websites using common cookie compliance technologies had fewer errors, while those employing browser fingerprinting technologies for user tracking had significantly more errors, suggesting a link between user privacy and accessibility practices.
  • Language specification: 84% of pages specified a document language, although pages without a language defined had fewer errors on average, contradicting the expectation that specifying a language is beneficial for accessibility.
  • WCAG conformance failures: 95.9% of home pages had detected WCAG 2 failures, a slight improvement from the previous year. The majority of failures were due to low contrast text, missing alternative text for images, and missing form input labels.
  • CMS impact on accessibility: The choice of CMS seemed to have varying impacts on accessibility, with most pages using common CMS platforms having fewer errors than average.

These insights underscore the ongoing challenge of achieving widespread web accessibility and highlight areas where improvements can be made. The report serves as a valuable resource for website owners, developers, and policymakers aiming to enhance the digital experience for people with disabilities.

Economic impact

The disposable income of working-age people with disabilities in the U.S. is $490 billion. Globally, this figure rises to $1.9 trillion.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Persons with disabilities often face adverse socioeconomic outcomes, such as less education and higher poverty rates.
  • Barriers to full social and economic inclusion for persons with disabilities include inaccessible environments, lack of assistive technologies, and societal prejudice.
  • The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities promotes the full integration of persons with disabilities in societies.
  • The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes targets to ensure access to development programming and human rights for persons with disabilities.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected people with disabilities, particularly in the areas of health, education, and transportation.

In 2022, a record number of 3,225 website accessibility lawsuits were filed in federal court, marking a 12% increase from 2021.

Key findings from the article include:

  • New York, Florida, and California were the top three states with the most lawsuits, with New York having the highest at 2,560.
  • The number of website accessibility lawsuits represents 37% of all ADA Title III lawsuits in 2022.
  • The increase in lawsuits is steady, but it is not as explosive as the increase seen from 2017 to 2018.
  • The number of lawsuits in California has decreased, which may be due to courts being less favorable towards plaintiffs in online-only businesses.
  • The 2023 Title II rulemaking effort is unlikely to affect the 2023 lawsuit count as it applies only to state and local governments.

It is worth mentioning that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses to ensure that their web content is accessible. Non-compliance can result in significant legal and financial penalties.

Benefits of accessibility

Companies that implement accessibility improvements see benefits beyond compliance. A study by Forrester (Forrester Data Report: Mobile Payments Forecast, 2016 To 2021 (EU-7)) found that accessible websites have a better search ranking and can reduce maintenance costs by up to 50%.

An accessible website improves the user experience for all visitors, not just those with disabilities. This can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Digital accessibility gaps

Digital accessibility gaps remain a significant challenge for many organizations, including in the higher education sector.

Lack of awareness of digital accessibility (61%) and lack of internal skills or experience (57%) are seen as the most significant barriers to delivering digital accessibility in higher education institutions.

Despite the known benefits, a report AbilityNet (Inaccessible websites keep disabled people out of work, AbilityNet tells government taskforce) cited to a government taskforce found that only 10% of websites meet basic accessibility standards.

The mobile app accessibility landscape is similarly bleak, with less than 23% of apps meeting basic accessibility guidelines.

Employment and education

Education and employment opportunities

Digital accessibility is crucial for education and employment opportunities. An accessible online environment can increase the employment rate of people with disabilities by up to 50%.

  • Creating an inclusive digital work environment for workers with disabilities is crucial for their social inclusion and job prospects.
  • Digital skills development can significantly benefit people with disabilities in terms of employment opportunities and social integration.
  • The labor market is currently undergoing significant changes due to demographic, climate, and technological shifts, which also impact activities for people with disabilities
  • Young blind and partially sighted job seekers can benefit from the ADVISE and the Manual for inexperienced job seekers with a visual impairment, which provide best practices for job applications, CV creation, and disclosure of disability.
  • Employers and educational programs play a vital role in making jobs accessible by engaging, reassuring, and fostering skill development for people with disabilities.
  • The European Accessibility Summit 2023, organized by the European Disability Forum and supported by Microsoft, focused on enabling an accessible digital work environment, with presentations on best practices and recordings available on the event page.

E-learning platforms

Accessible e-learning platforms enable students with disabilities to perform on par with their peers, ensuring equal educational opportunities.

The article from Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health discusses the advantages and disadvantages of using E-learning and Distance Learning (DL) for students with Learning Disabilities (LDs). Here are the key points:

  • Historical context: E-learning and DL have been traditionally used to bridge gaps between educational institutions and students, becoming increasingly significant during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • E-teaching importance: The effectiveness of E-learning and DL is closely tied to teachers’ proficiency in utilizing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for teaching purposes. This includes creating and managing learning materials and processes digitally.
  • Approaches to ICT use: Two main approaches are identified:

    • Utilizing assistive technologies to enhance specific abilities or facilitate access to information and learning.
    • Designing e-environments tailored to promote learning.
  • Aims of ICT and e-environment use: These approaches serve dual purposes: enhancing abilities and competencies, and facilitating access to information and learning at individualized paces and rhythms.
  • General advantages: Studies highlighted positive impacts of E-learning on academic abilities (such as reading, writing, and arithmetic), cognitive and metacognitive abilities (including decision-making, problem-solving, and self-regulation), and attitudes towards learning among students with LDs. It also supports different learning styles and offers multimodal presentations of information.
  • Disadvantages and considerations: The review emphasizes the need for personalized and individualized teaching processes, especially when implementing E-learning environments. The high heterogeneity among students with LDs necessitates careful consideration and customization of learning strategies.
  • Inclusive approaches: Previous studies suggest ways to incorporate inclusive practices in E-learning and DL, although specific methods were not detailed in the provided excerpts.

Conclusion

Collectively, we have work to do. Digital accessibility is not just a legal obligation or a moral imperative; it’s a smart business decision. By making digital content accessible, businesses can tap into a vast and often overlooked market, improve user experience, and enhance their reputation.

It’s time to embrace accessibility and ensure that no one is left behind in our digital world!

Contact SiteLint today so we can help you audit digital accessibility with your real visitors and organize a remediation process based on how your users are actually experiencing your digital services.

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