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97% of Top Websites Fail The Test For ADA Web Accessibility, New Study Finds

By Jason Taylor on Mar 11, 2019
Topics: Web Accessibility


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 
The full report can be viewed at this link.

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. 

Improve your website accessibility with our experts >>

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.

Contact us to learn more about our range of digital accessibility services, our accessibility management platform, and our Dynamic Remediation Solution.

Need to improve digital usability, accessibility or performance? We can help.
Partner with us. Get in touch.