Applause 2022 Global Accessibility Survey Reveals Organizations Prioritize Digital Accessibility but Fall Short of Conformance with WCAG 2.1 Standards

Respondents Note High Motivation to Improve Usability for All End-users

Applause, the world leader in testing and digital quality, today announced the 2022 results of its third consecutive, annual global survey on digital accessibility. The recently completed survey of nearly 1,800 respondents, examines how companies prioritize accessibility when developing their digital experiences, and what degree of emphasis they place on satisfying Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, a set of international standards for making web and mobile content more accessible to people with disabilities (PwD).

While many organizations recognize that neglecting accessibility (A11y) can result in legal risks and lost business opportunities, full digital accessibility has additional benefits beyond risk mitigation. Back-end coding that supports accessible design can boost search engine optimization, make automated testing easier, and generally improve the user experience for all potential customers, including PwD.

Key Findings

  • Nearly 46% of respondents rated digital accessibility as a top priority for their organizations; 34% rated accessibility as important. Fewer than 6% rated accessibility as either a low priority or not even on the organization’s radar.

  • More than 68% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that digital accessibility is a higher priority for their organizations than it was last year.

  • Despite the tendency for organizations to prioritize accessibility as noted above, just over 30% said their organization’s website meets WCAG 2.1 standards. Of that group who said they meet standards, only 14% said they meet AAA, which is the highest level.

  • When asked about common mistakes developers make from an accessibility perspective, the top answers were “error alerts are not descriptive” (14.5%), “site and page structure are unclear” (13.5%) and “lack of captions/transcripts on videos” (13.4%).

  • 42% of respondents said they either have limited or no in-house expertise or resources to test for accessibility on an ongoing basis without external help. Nearly 29% said they have some expertise, but could use more.

“Organizations certainly need to comply with accessibility standards from a legal perspective. However, from a broader business perspective, it’s essential for organizations to focus on developing and releasing products that are accessible and inclusive to the greatest number of current and future users. To achieve that, accessibility testing should be ongoing, and conducted with input from people with disabilities, so organizations can understand how their products will perform in real-world scenarios,” said Luke Damian, chief growth officer for Applause.

Motivators for Conformance

Respondents answered that the top three biggest motivators in achieving accessibility conformance were “improving usability for all end users” (50.5%), “building positive public perception” (21%) and “gaining and maintaining market share” (12%).

“As a best practice, companies should go beyond the minimum and prioritize inclusive design to create seamless experiences for all customers. Yet many organizations do not have the in-house expertise and resources they need. This is where organizations should engage the support of specialists to help ensure they are building high-quality, fully accessible digital experiences,” Damian said.

Additional Resources

Blog post: What is Digital Accessibility Testing? Standards, Guidelines and More

Blog post: Accessibility, Attitudes, Bugs and More

Ebook: Do the Right Thing Right: Make Your Website and Apps Fully Accessible

About Applause

Applause is a world leader in testing and digital quality. Brands today win or lose customers through digital interactions, and Applause delivers authentic feedback on the quality of digital assets and experiences, provided by real users in real-world settings. Our disruptive approach harnesses the power of the Applause platform and leverages the uTest community of more than one million independent digital testers worldwide. Unlike traditional testing methods (including lab-based and offshoring), Applause responds with the speed, scale and flexibility that digital-focused brands require and expect. Applause provides insightful, actionable testing results that can directly inform go/no go release decisions, helping development teams build better and faster, and release with confidence. Digital-first brands rely on Applause as a best practice to deliver the digital experiences their customers love.

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