Accessibility Information Webmasters Can Use

    February 13, 2009
    Chris Crum

Web Accessibility organization WebAIM has posted results from an interesting survey on the use of screen readers. Webmasters should pay attention to this, as accessibility is an important part of your online presence, but is often ignored or overlooked. Just ask Target, who settled an accessibility lawsuit last year for $6 million.

The majority of screen reader users are blind or have some form of vision impairment, but that doesn’t apply to all users. Participants of the survey cited other disabilities as well as accessibility evaluation:

Disabilities Reported

The data shows that most screen readers have to do some kind of customization to meet their preferences. An interesting point that WebAIM makes is that those without disabilities are much less likely to customize their readers, and this is probably the category that most often contains webmasters performing accessibility evaluations.

Screen Reader Customization

There is a ton of interesting information to be gleaned from this survey, but some statistics that stand out to me include:

– Respondents with no disability were nearly twice as likely to list Firefox as their browser of choice than blind respondents – 66% to 37%.

– When accessing an unfamiliar home page, 46% read through the home page as opposed to navigating, searching, or looking for a site map.

– 22% skip links whenever they’re available, compared to 19% who seldom skip links

– 52% say they navigate by headings whenever they’re available

– When it comes to site search, 26% use it when available, with another 25% claiming to use it often. Only 4% say they never use it.

When it comes to locating search on a site, there were a variety of ways listed as preferred techniques:

Locating Search

As I said, there is a ton of useful info in these survey results, and plenty more than what I have discussed here. If you are seriously interested in making your site more accessible and enhancing the user experience of your users who use screen readers, I would definitely check out the entire thing.