WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

Re: Screen Reader Survey Results


From: Duff Johnson
Date: Jun 6, 2012 8:07PM


> While this is not an attack on anybody, I would like to address
> something. I was only able to get finish Duff's post to the "Mobile
> devices are rockin'" section. The part that stuck out to me was his
> section "AT users to world: the web is not getting more accessible", I
> haven't talked to you, Duff, so I don't know what you really meant by
> it; either you could be just be pointing it out or could be read as
> "but, but, but I [and others] work hard on promoting accessibility,
> how can that be said?!?"

I'm simply pointing it out. This is no comment on the work that you, I or others put into improving accessibility. It's simply to say that we are very small and the world is very big.

If you want my honest opinion it is that I have *not* observed a notable acceleration in the production of accessible web content or adoption of accessibility practices over the past 5+ years. Take a look at who does the professional work of accessibility - more or less the same people as five years ago. This is time-intensive work, so that's not the sign of a growing industry. Take a look at when most of the articles, best-practice documents, blog-posts, etc. offering accessibility wisdom were written - all before 2008, and relatively few since. I've been reliably informed that the same thing can be observed in the German accessibility literature. [NOTE: These are NOT scientifically-validated observations, just my impressions based on spending a lot of time surfing the web on this subject.]

At the end of the day, as Jared said, all these perceptions of those "of the user" and aren't objective per se. Doubtless if they were surfing FaceBook (or trying to) before they answered the survey it will color the results.

On the other hand, when you have statistically useful numbers of respondents (as in this survey) the quality of the data tends to go up. I'm not saying that this survey's questions offer (many) obvious conclusions, but a few do (in my view) pop out.

Probably the most interesting survey would involve participants allowing some kind of cookie which could facilitate recording (anonymously) what they actually DO online and thus provide context for understanding their subjective feedback. That would be exceptionally cool.

> I would say the answer is somewhat easy, if
> you simplify it. Ask most people what are the most popular sites, you
> will most likely get Facebook and Google for an answer. If then ask
> what sites have accessibility issues, you will most likely get...
> Facebook and Google again. I know that Google has a group that is for
> talking about accessibility, even though issues are posted, there is
> nothing closing the loop part of the time. Yes some issues do get
> fixed, but some issues/threads just die because the person or people
> who find the bug get tired of saying please fix this. I personally
> filed two bugs in the last two or three weeks. One bug was passed onto
> the webkit folks, I followed the thread for a day or so, but the way
> they were planning to fix it was the wrong way.

These are all excellent points and provide food for thought on how future surveys could be augmented.

> The only way I know to raise an issue with Facebook is to fill out a
> contact form. I know I did this a few years ago and didn't get a
> reply.
> With all that said, even though various groups are doing good things;
> whether it be WebAIM with stuff like this, the improvements with
> jQuery, etc, it doesn't get seen if the big guys aren't doing it. Thus
> no improvements are perceived.

More people did say the web was improving than said it wasn't. It was the negative perception that was going the wrong way.

Certainly, you are making me think that there are many fascinating data-points to be collected. Someone needs to fund WebAIM to be able to do all this stuff!