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04 Apr, 2024
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Accessibility Review for January & February, 2024

At AllyADA, we are part of the tech and human-based solution to the very real website accessibility problem that impacts the e-commerce space globally. Recognizing that this position is one of both tremendous opportunity and privilege, one of our favorite contributions is the ability to generate meaningful statistics to further the advancement of accessibility for blind and visually impaired internet users in the United States and beyond. Though targeted to a fractional subset of websites, this type of data-driven research sheds much-needed light on the extent of the accessibility barriers impacting users daily. 


Summary of Findings

We engaged with 510 websites during January and February 2024 to determine each website's level of ADA website accessibility compliance and draw conclusions about the categories of common accessibility issues present. 

We found that of the websites tested, the results were as follows:  

Inaccessible: A total of 304 websites tested (60%) were deemed inaccessible to blind and visually impaired users due to a failure to provide accessible core information about products or a failure to allow blind or visually impaired users to complete a purchase. This means the website lacked basic functionality or usability for blind or visually impaired users.    

Semi-Accessible: A total of 198 websites tested (38%) were deemed semi-accessible. This means the websites were minimally accessible to blind and visually impaired users who were able to navigate from the homepage to the checkout with at least a base-level understanding of what they were buying.  

Fully Accessible: 8 websites tested (2%) were deemed to provide the level of access to information and navigation features necessary to comply with the ADA. This means that blind and visually impaired users were able to obtain all pertinent information about products, locations, and working hours and were able to find specific products, make selections for size and color, understand the purpose of each formfield, or book a table and select the time.  

Widget Accessibility: Only a total of 30 websites tested were deemed accessible with the use of widgets. A total of 44 websites tested were deemed inaccessible with the use of widgets.  

infographics of reviewed websites for January and February 2024

Most Common Accessibility Issues

As blind and visually impaired users are well aware, there are a large number of issues that can render a site non-ADA-compliant and impede ease of use, navigation, comprehension, and accessibility from the homepage through checkout. 

The most common issues our testers encountered during this assessment were the following:

  1. Lack of alt text for images: This error is marked by the absence of a written narrative describing an associated image in words. This description is called “Atl Text” because it is entered in the “alt text attribute” on the page. Alt text is important for people who use screen readers because it allows them to understand the content of the image.
  2. Navigation problems: This error refers to a variety of issues that can make it difficult for users to navigate a website. These issues can include broken links, missing links, or unclear navigation menus. 
  3. Bypass blocks: This error refers to elements that can be used to bypass the main content of a webpage. This can be problematic for users who use screen readers because they may not be able to access the bypassed content. 
  4. Form fields: This error refers to issues with form fields on a webpage. These issues can include missing labels, unclear error messages, or form fields that are not keyboard accessible. 
  5. Pop-ups: This error refers to pop-up windows that appear on a webpage. Pop-ups can be disruptive to blind or visually impaired users and can also be difficult to close for users who use screen readers. 
  6. Inaccurate landmark structure: This error refers to the incorrect use of HTML landmark elements. Landmark elements identify the different sections of a webpage, such as the header, navigation, and main content. 
  7. Inaccurate heading hierarchy: This error refers to the incorrect use of heading elements (H1, H2, H3, etc.). Heading elements are used to create a hierarchy of headings on a webpage, which can help users understand the structure of the content. 
  8. Ambiguous link text: This error refers to link text that is not clear or descriptive. Link text should tell users what they can expect to find when they click on the link. 
  9. No skip to content: This error refers to the absence of a "skip to content" link. A "skip to content" link allows users to skip over the navigation menu and go directly to the main content of the webpage. This is important for users who use screen readers, as it allows them to get to the content they are looking for more quickly. 
  10. No notification when moving to an external website: For sighted people, the move to an external website is understood through visual confirmation, but people who are blind or visually impaired get easily confused when they are moved to an external website just by clicking a link. 

Most Common Categories of Websites with Accessibility Issues

Among the sites tested, we determined that the top categories of websites operating in violation of web accessibility requirements under the ADA are retail and services sites, with the following breakdown:

chart of ada non-compliant categories of websites split by categories

The overall breakdown of non-compliant websites showed that the majority (63%) fell into the “Retail” category, with the remainder (37%) in the “Service” category. For clarity, retail websites are those devoted to the sale of physical goods and products, regardless of the nature of the goods. Retail includes the sale of things like shoes but also the sale of food commodities like a box of candy. By contrast, service websites are those devoted to the provision of a specified service, such as AllyADA or a law firm website, which allow prospective clients to make informed decisions and engage with the business to arrange payment and receipt of services. 

Taking an even closer look, the most non-compliant websites within the retail category were Apparel and Footwear (43.8%), Jewelry (15.1%), and Electronics (8.2%). The most non-compliant websites within the service categories were Restaurants (19.2%) and Food Delivery (13.7%). 

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