A new study on Website accessibility found that 97.8% of 1 million homepages tested had detectable WCAG 2 failures. A user with a disability can expect to encounter detectable errors on 1 in every 13 elements with which they engage, according to the February 2019 analysis by WebAIM.
That's frustrating for the end user. And bad news for the Websites, who may be vulnerable to multiple lawsuits under the ADA.
The WebAIM Million
WebAIM, a well-know accessibility non-profit based out of Utah University, released it's analysis of the top 1,000,000 web sites last week. The analysis focused on automatically detectable errors with the WAVE accessibility engines found on Website homepages. Automated tools like WAVE are limited in their accessibility detection, -"—only around 25% of possible conformance failures can be automatically detectable," per WebAIM. Automated testing wherever possible is widely considered a best practice for maintaining Web accessibility.
Although results may be limited. There is a lot that can be learned from WebAIM's analysis, including:
- How difficult it is for companies to fully comply with WCAG
- How easy it is to find issues with automated tools on nearly every Website.
- Insights into the frequency of the most common website accessibility errors
Our Take – The Good, Bad and Ugly
The good news is that a study like this brings awareness to the issue of website accessibility. This can serve as an opportunity to educate stakeholders and help you make the business case for Website Accessibility.
There are tools out there that companies can use to test their home pages. WebAIM offers a "Site Lookup." You can enter any URL and see how your home page ranked in their study.
UsableNet also offers free one-page accessibility evaluation, You can get access to all conformance issues, fixing descriptions and code errors with our tool, UsableNet AQA. Try it for free here.
The bad side, is that the World Wide Web still has a long way to go before it is fully accessible to everyone.
According to WebAIM, "Because automatically detectable errors constitute a small portion of all possible WCAG failures, this means that the actual WCAG 2 A/AA conformance level for the home pages for the most commonly accessed web sites is very low, perhaps below 1%."
The ugly side, this information could be used to target company’s web sites by ADA plaintiff lawyers. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, website accessibility litigation has accelerated dramatically in recent years. UsableNet's own analysis of ADA lawsuits in 2018 found a 181% increase in ADA Web Accessibility Lawsuits.
UsableNet CAN HELP
The journey towards improved digital accessibility presents many opportunities and challenges. Whether you reading about this analysis to learn about accessibility or are ready to get started, there will be many details to track and initiatives to complete, all the while keeping your eyes on the big picture. Read this blog for an all-inclusive checklist, a shortened version of our Web and App Accessibility Roadmap eBook that can be downloaded here.