Applause, the world leader in testing and digital quality, today announced the results of its annual Accessibility and Inclusive Design Survey. The recently completed survey of more than 1,300 software testers, product engineers, legal professionals, software developers, QA and UX professionals across the globe, examines how companies prioritize accessibility when developing their digital experiences and how respondents rate their knowledge level regarding accessibility.
The study also asked respondents to rate their organizations’ levels of conformance with 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).
More than 68% of respondents said that digital accessibility is a higher priority for their organizations than it was last year.
Nearly 43% of respondents rated digital accessibility as a top priority for their organizations, which is down slightly from 46% in 2022; 37% rated accessibility as important. Fewer than 7% rated accessibility as either a low priority or not at all important to their organization.
Despite the tendency for more organizations to prioritize accessibility than not, the survey shows that just over one-third are conforming to WCAG 2.1 (up from 30% in 2022).
Regarding their personal level of understanding of digital accessibility, more than one-third of respondents rated their knowledge level as either basic (28%) or very little (7.5%). Under 6% consider themselves experts.
Just less than one-fourth of the engineers who participated in the survey said they always write code with accessibility in mind, which, though a small group, is a considerable increase from 15% in 2022.
More than 29% of product developers surveyed said they do not build accessibility into their design plans at the earliest stages (up from 27% in 2022 and 24% in 2021).
“With the pending update to WCAG standards this summer, and the implementation of the EU Accessibility Act in June 2025, companies need to commit to advancing their focus on accessibility and inclusivity for their digital products and experiences. Making strides in accessibility often requires education and a cultural shift within organizations. If there is a disconnect between prioritizing accessibility and actually taking the steps necessary to make it a reality, it’s difficult to make progress,” said Bob Farrell, Vice President of Solution Delivery and CX Practices for Applause.
“The survey shows we haven’t really seen a huge amount of progress over the past three years, and there is even a growing trend for product developers to be less likely to build accessibility into their design plans. Digital accessibility requires an ongoing commitment to building inclusive experiences, designing products and writing code with accessibility in mind, and then testing digital properties for accessibility throughout the development process,” he said.
Motivators for Conformance
For a second year, respondents answered that the top three biggest motivators in achieving accessibility conformance were “improving usability for all end users” (45%), “building positive public perception” (22%) and “gaining and maintaining market share” (15%).
“Most organizations see the importance and value in releasing accessible products and experiences, but legal compliance is just a starting place. Truly accessible experiences require input from people with disabilities and non-disabled, both from a design and a testing angle. This is where organizations should engage the support of specialists where they need help, to ensure they are building fully accessible digital experiences for all,” Farrell said.