The Current State of Web Accessibility

The Current State of Web Accessibility

WebAIM is a non-profit organization based at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. Their website tells us: “In February 2019, WebAIM conducted an accessibility evaluation of the home pages for the top 1,000,000 websites using the WAVE stand-alone API (with additional tools to collect site technology parameters). While this research focuses only on automatically detectable issues, the results paint a rather dismal picture of the current state of web accessibility for individuals with disabilities.”

In August 2019, six months after the initial WebAIM Million analysis, they conducted a re-analysis of the accessibility of the home pages for the top 1,000,000 websites. This second report documents changes in accessibility over those 6 months. The same sampling techniques and methods were used during this update as were used for the original WebAIM Million. There is a lot to unpack here.

Web accessibility requires more than just accessibility tools; it requires human judgment. Human testing is always necessary because accessibility is about the human experience.

One very interesting finding is the WCAG 2 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) failure rate based on automatically detectable errors was 98.0% in August compared to 97.8% in February. While slightly more pages had detectable WCAG failures, the number of errors per page decreased.

Most of the WCAG failures are easy fixes, and establishing a protocol for site maintenance and monitoring would substantially improve outcomes. The prevalence of pages with low-contrast text, empty links, missing labels, and empty buttons increased slightly in 6 months, whereas the prevalence of pages with missing alternative text and missing document language decreased slightly. Simply addressing these few types of issues would have a significant positive impact on web accessibility.