In an article recently published by WebAIM, 98% of a sample of nonprofit homepages contained WCAG conformance failures that were automatically detected by WebAIM’s accessibility tools. The results come from a study, The WebAIM Million – an accessibility analysis of the top 1,000,000 home pages, conducted by WebAIM earlier this year. The study analyze the rendered of sites’ home pages to detect Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) conformance failures. All automated tools, including WebAIM’s WAVE, are limited in their detection of accessibility issues—only around 25% of possible conformance failures can be automatically detectable. Absence of detectable errors does not indicate that a site is accessible or compliant. Despite these limitations, the data presented in this report provide a meaningful representation of the state of web inaccessibility. The WebAIM Million only tested home pages because very often they are the most accessed pages on a web site and are the gateway to the rest of a web site’s content. “Home pages not only tend to receive the most attention from developers, but research indicates a correlation between issues detected on a home page and other site pages,” they state .
Nonprofit Sites Results
WebAIM used date from the top 100 nonprofit as listed on the website TopNonProfits and included large sites such as the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Khan Academy, The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, The Museum of Modern Art, and the American Red Cross.
In the study “WAVE automatically detected 4,965 errors, with a range of 0-174 errors on a page. The median number of errors in this sample was 43 on a homepage.” Among the most common errors: “Low contrast text (31.1 average errors per page), Missing alternative text (6.6 average errors per page) and Empty links (5.6 average errors per page).”
What can we do about this?
The folks at WebAIM report that they are working with the MacArthur Foundation to assist nonprofits and are writing an action paper to motivate nonprofits to act, and to describe techniques they can use to improve web accessibility. They invite others to help in the effort: “Hopefully you will share it with those in the nonprofit sector. (We) hope when we look at this data in the future we see positive trends that are consistent with the overarching values of diversity and inclusion that come from that sector.