This is the last of four posts sharing some of the things I saw while at the International World Wide Web Conference for w4a.
Several presentations looked at how accessible the web is.
Web Accessibility Snapshot
In 2006, an audit was performed by Nomensa for the United Nations. They reviewed 100 popular websites for conformance to accessibility guidelines.
The results weren’t positive: 97% of sites didn’t meet WCAG level 1.
Obviously, conformance to guidelines doesn’t mean a site is accessible, but it’s an important factor. It’s not sufficient, but it is required. Conformance to guidelines can’t prove that a website is accessible, however there are some guidelines that we can be certain would break accessibility if not followed. So they are at least a useful starting point.
However, 2006 is a long time ago now, and the Internet has changed a lot since. One project, from colleagues of mine at IBM, is creating a more up to date picture of the state of the web. They analysed a thousand of the most popular websites (according to Alexa) as well as a random sampling of a thousand other sites.
(Interestingly, they found no statistically significant difference between conformance in the most popular websites and the randomly selected ones).
Their intention is to perform this regularly, creating a Web Accessibility Snapshot, with regular updates on the status of accessibility of the web. It looks like it could become a valuable source of information.