Given the ubiquitous nature of the Internet, it’s easy to take for granted the difficulty many have navigating the web. And despite its great potential for those with visual, hearing, motor, and cognitive disabilities – approximately 4.4 million Canadians – failure to consider the importance web accessibility when designing web projects can isolate a large percentage of the population and prevent you from reaching your business’ true potential.
At FCV, our approach to web accessibility is rooted in our overall focus on usability and user experience. As with usability, consideration for accessibility needs to happen prior to development, and at FCV, these practices are incorporated into initial project planning, design, development, and testing phases. To ensure all our experiences are made accessible to everyone, that means staying abreast of the latest tools and assistive technologies.
Among other assistive technologies, people who are visually impaired, for instance, commonly rely on screen reader software to help them read and navigate web content. Just this past month, Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM), a non-profit dedicated to expanding the potential of the web for people with disabilities, conducted their annual survey of preferences of screen reader users. Results from studies like these help our designers and developers build more accessible web projects so we wanted to share a few noteworthy items from the study.
Of the 1,782 valid responses:
- JAWS is still the primary screen reader, but usage continues to decrease as usage of NVDA and VoiceOver increases.
- 72% of the respondents use a screen reader on a mobile device, up from only 12% three years ago.
- iOS device usage is significantly increasing and well above that of the standard population. Screen reader users represent a notable portion of the iOS device user market. Usage of Android devices is well below that of non-disabled users.
- The use of properly structured headings remains of great importance.
- The items that cause the most difficulty on the web remain largely unchanged over the last 2.5 years, with inaccessible Flash content and CAPTCHA being the most problematic.
For full results of the survey, you can check out the WebAIM website, here. Not too long ago we also wrote an industry white paper on the topic of web accessibility. If you’re interested in the topic, it makes for a great read. Check it out!