New research reveals alarming scale of WCAG accessibility issues across websites of Fortune 100
World’s largest organizations risking hefty fines and loss of market share by failing to make their websites accessible to consumers with disabilities
New York, April 12, 2019: A staggering 815,600 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 issues were found on websites belonging to companies in the Fortune 100, according to research carried out by analyst firm, Ovum, based on audit data supplied by Crownpeak, a global leader in digital governance management.
These findings could see companies missing out on reaching their audience and losing sales, but worse still, be faced with litigation or fines if found to be in breach of equal access regulations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to a report by law firm Seyfarth Shaw, 1053 federal lawsuits relating to website accessibility were filed against businesses found to be in violation of the ADA in just the first half of 2018, with the figure expected to have exceeded 2,000 by the end of the year.
Maxine Holt, Research Director, Ovum, says: “Digital is booming, but enterprises must act to ensure their digital governance systems keep pace. The fact that even companies with ample budgets are struggling to understand and resource digital accessibility is an alarming bellwether for the state of digital accessibility. Given the risks and revenue at stake, organizations need to act quickly to reverse this.”
Darren Guarnaccia, Chief Strategy and Product Officer at Crownpeak says: “Consumers are reliant on the internet for countless aspects of their daily lives and these findings highlight the extent of the problem organizations are facing in delivering seamless online experiences. Having robust governance systems in place allows organizations to resolve issues before they become a problem and to conform to standards that will deliver a better overall user experience, increase website visits and boost marketing performance. Not only does this avoid the risk of a compliance breach, but it will also help businesses gain a competitive advantage.”
Crownpeak conducted the survey using its Digital Quality Management (DQM) tool to audit a sample 2,500 web pages per company. Websites were assessed for compliance with 40 accessibility checkpoints, which map to selected success criteria from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1.
The issues were categorised into differing levels of conformance: “A,” “AA,” and “AAA,” with “A” representing the minimum level of conformance. Of the 815,600 issues identified, 705,300 Level A issues were found and 110,300 were Level AA. With WCAG, Level AA increasingly becoming the de facto standard for accessibility compliance cited in website accessibility legislation, the scale of basic compliance issues on the websites of the Fortune 100 should be ringing alarm bells for these companies.
The best performing industry was media, which had an average of 2.97 issues per page, with the finance and technology sectors also performing at a higher level than many others, with 5.69 and 5.83 issues respectively, per page on average. The retail industry was the poorest performing industry with an average of 8.35 issues per page and, although a highly regulated industry, telecommunications was also among the poorest in terms of performance with 7.31 issues per page on average.