WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

Survey of Users with Low Vision #2 Results


In September 2018, WebAIM conducted a survey of users with low vision. We received 248 valid responses to this survey. This was a follow-up survey to a previous survey conducted March 2013. Some disclaimers and notices:

  • Totals may not equal 100% due to rounding.
  • Total responses (n) for each question may not equal 248 due to respondents not answering that particular question.
  • The sample was not controlled and may not represent all users with low vision.
  • We hope to conduct additional surveys of this nature again in the future. If you have recommendations or questions you would like us to ask, please contact us.


Respondent Age
Age# of Respondents% of Respondents
61 and older4719.1%

While the majority of respondents were over age 41, only 9.8% of respondents indicated that their low vision is age-related.

Is your low vision primarily caused by age?
Response# of Respondents% of Respondents

Level of Vision

Please rate your level of vision
Level of Vision# of Respondents% of Respondents
Very Poor Vision - using a computer is very difficult or impossible without assistive technology10944.7%
Poor Vision - notably impacts your ability to use a computer7329.9%
Moderate Vision - can see adequately with correction (glasses, contact lenses), or not legally blind6225.4%

Types of Visual Impairment

Which of the following types of visual impairment do you have?
Response# of Respondents% of Respondents
Visual acuity (clarity or sharpness of vision)18675.0%
Light and glare sensitivity15261.3%
Contrast sensitivity11646.8%
Limited field of vision12148.8%
Color vision/color-blindness4919.8%

75% of respondents reported multiple types of visual impairment, with 31% reporting four or more different types. The prevalence of color-blindness in the overall population is around 4%, much lower than the 19.8% of survey respondents.

Internet Proficiency

Please rate your proficiency using the Internet
Proficiency# of Respondents% of Respondents

Those with more significant vision loss consistently reported higher levels of internet proficiency.

Operating Systems

Operating System
OS# of Respondents% of Respondents
Chrome OS72.8%

Operating system data was detected from the system used to complete the survey. Usage of Windows was down from 72.2% in 2013 to 56% in 2018. Apple increased from 14.3% to 16.5%, iOS increased from 14.3% to 18.5%, and Android increased from 2.3% to 5.6% over the same time period.


Respondent Browser
Browser# of Respondents% of Respondents
Internet Explorer3815.3%

Browser data was detected from the system used to complete the survey. Internet Explorer usage decreased significantly from 52.2% in 2013 to 15.3% in 2018. Chrome usage increased from 14.6% to 37.5%, Safari increased from 12.7% to 21.8%, and Firefox increased from 16.1% to 21% in that same time period. A large majority (81%) of Safari users were using mobile Safari on iOS.

Primary Devices

Which of the following is your primary device for navigating the web?
Response# of Respondents% of Respondents
Mobile Phone124.8%

Assistive Technology

Which of the following do you frequently use?
Response# of Respondents% of Respondents
Screen reader11245.2%
Screen magnification software or system settings12048.4%
Browser zoom controls (zooms all page content)10944.0%
Browser text sizing settings9136.7%
High contrast mode or settings7630.6%
Browser settings to change colors3413.7%
Custom styles (for example with Stylish, Stylus, or user style sheets)3112.5%
Tools that highlight text as it is read2510.1%

68% of respondents use 2 or more types of assistive technology with 23% using 4 or more different types. In the survey comments, many respondents indicated using the Reader settings in their browser to present a more readable version of content.

High Contrast Modes

Which type of high contrast mode do you typically use?
Response# of Respondents% of Respondents
Light text on a dark background8971.2%
Dark text on a light background3225.6%
A low contrast theme that decreases foreground/background color contrast43.2%

51.4% of respondents report using some type of high contrast mode. Of users that implement a high contrast mode, the majority use light text on a dark background.

Custom Style Types

If you use custom styles (for example with Stylish, Stylus, or user style sheets), what do you commonly change?
Response# of Respondents% of Respondents
Font size9136.7%
Font family / font face3112.5%
Font weight/boldness3313.3%
Background and/or text color4618.5%
Line height/spacing197.7%
Letter or word spacing156.0%
Spacing around paragraphs, headings, etc.187.3%

Changing font size is by far the most common type of custom style applied. 24% of respondents utilize more than one of these style type, with some users reporting using all of them. Paragraph, line, letter, and word spacing are used rather infrequently - of note because a new WCAG 2.1 success criterion now requires pages to support user customization of these styles.

Text Sizing

Respondents text sizing behavior
Response# of Respondents% of Respondents
Increased size197.9%
Decreased size41.6%

JavaScript was used to detect the browser text size in the respondent browsers. Only 8% of respondents had increased the text size from the default (note that this does not account for zooming or screen magnification, only style or browser settings changes to override the default text size). This number is significantly less than the 36.7% of respondents above that indicate that they use styles to change font size and the 36.7% of respondents who indicate using browser text sizing. Text size increases ranged from 112.5% of the default to 200% of the default, with the majority of those who increased the text size doing so at less than 125%.

A few respondents had decreased the default text size slightly - perhaps to allow more text within their limited field of view.

Display Resolution

JavaScript was used to detect the respondent display size. 58 unique display resolutions/dimensions were detected. These ranged from 2880X1620 pixels on the high end to 320X568 pixels on the low end. The most common resolution was 1920X1080 - used by 13.2% of respondents. Interestingly, the 2nd most common resolution (7.9% of respondents) was 375X667 - significantly lower!

Similarly, the respondent Device Pixel Ratio (DPR) was also detected. DPR is the ratio between logical pixels and physical pixels. This value can give some insight into the visual experience of end users. Unfortunately, browsers do not yet consistently present DPR - a value of 2 may indicate that the user has zoomed the page to 200% OR it may indicate a high resolution display (e.g., Mac Retina Display). As such, these values are not highly useful, but are of interest. 40.5% of respondents had a DPR of 1 and 21.9% of respondents a DPR of 2. The remaining 37.6% had other DPR settings ranging from .65 to 5. 13.6% of respondents had a DPR greater than 2, which probably indicates that browser zoom was in place.

Font Preferences

What type of font do you prefer for paragraphs or large blocks of text in web pages?
Response# of Respondents% of Respondents
No preference7534.6%

The majority of respondents prefer sans-serif fonts with only 12% of respondents preferring serif fonts.

Magnification Level

Approximately what level of magnification do you most commonly use?
Response# of Respondents% of Respondents
No magnification is used4621.7%
Less than 200%6530.7%
200% - 400%6329.7%
400% - 600%219.9%
600% - 800%94.2%
Larger than 800%83.8%

21.7% of respondents do not enlarge web content. This is likely because they do not need larger content. Users with tunnel vision, for example, may find content more difficult if it is enlarged.

17.9% of respondents enlarge content to 400% or larger. WCAG 2.1 now generally requires that pages reflow without horizontal scrolling up to 400% zoom.

Magnification Software

Which of the following is your primary magnification software?
Response# of Respondents% of Respondents
I don't use magnification software6728.8%
I use the magnification settings of my OS10545.1%

Of users that use magnification software or settings, the majority use the operating system settings. Most respondents that use dedicated screen magnification software use ZoomText.

Primary Screen Reader

Which of the following is your primary desktop/laptop screen reader?
Screen Reader# of Respondents% of Respondents
Don't use a desktop/laptop screen reader9941.1%

Usage of ZoomText among respondents has significantly decreased since 2013 while usage of JAWS, NVDA, and VoiceOver has increased.

Mobile Platforms

Which of the following is your primary mobile/tablet platform?
Response# of Respondents% of Respondents
Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch15764.3%
Chrome OS41.6%

As with screen reader users, Apple dominates the mobile space for users with low vision. iOS device usage increased from 43.1% in 2013 to 64.3% in 2018. Android increased from 18.1% to 23.8% over the same period. Usage of all other types of devices (Nokia, Blackberry, Windows Phone, etc.) was 20.8% in 2013, but only 4% in 2018. The number of respondents that reported not using a mobile device or tablet dropped from 19.4% in 2013 to 7.8% in 2018.

Mobile Settings/Software

Do you use the accessibility settings (including large text) or accessibility software on a mobile phone or tablet?
Response# of Respondents% of Respondents

Respondents who use iOS devices are more likely to use accessibility settings or software. 63% of all respondents indicated using these settings/software in 2013 compared to 82.4% in 2018.

Primary Mobile/Tablet Screen Reader

Which of the following is your primary mobile/tablet screen reader?
Screen Reader# of Respondents% of Respondents
Don't use a mobile screen reader9841.9%
TalkBack for Android146.0%
Mobile Accessibility for Android73.0%

Voice Assistants

How often do you use voice assistants such as Siri, Amazon Alexa, or Google Home?
Proficiency# of Respondents% of Respondents
Very frequently6727.8%
Somewhat frequently5522.8%
Somewhat infrequently5824.1%

60.9% of iOS users use voice assistants very or somewhat frequently compared to 35.7% of Android users.

Keyboard Usage

How often do you use the keyboard for web page navigation?
Response# of Respondents% of Respondents

The majority of respondents frequently use the keyboard for web page navigation. 60.4% of respondents reported always or often using a keyboard in 2018 compared to 47.5% in 2013. Those with more significant vision loss are more likely to use the keyboard for navigation.

Heading Navigation

Do you use software or browser extensions that allow navigation by headings?
Response# of Respondents% of Respondents

Nearly all respondents that navigate by headings are screen reader users. Only 11.1% of respondents who are not screen reader users navigate by headings.

Reading Abandonment

How often do you quit reading information from the computer (such as an article on the web or instructions in a document) and not finish it because the text is too hard to read comfortably?
Response# of Respondents% of Respondents
Often - every day3614.8%
Sometimes - a few times a week6727.6%
Occasionally - a few times a month5924.3%
Rarely - a few times a year5121.0%

Web Accessibility Progress

Which of the following best describes your feelings regarding the accessibility of web content over the previous year?
Response# of Respondents% of Respondents
Web content has become more accessible7934.8%
Web content accessibility has not changed10345.4%
Web content has become less accessible4519.8%

Respondents were generally optimistic about change over time with slightly increased optimism since 2013. Respondents with very poor vision were less optimistic than respondents with moderate vision.

Social Media Accessibility

In general, how accessible are social media web sites to you?
Response# of Respondents% of Respondents
Very Accessible4821.3%
Somewhat Accessible11551.1%
Somewhat Inaccessible4921.8%
Very Inaccessible135.8%

Compared to responses in 2013, respondents are increasingly positive about the accessibility of social media sites. Respondents with higher levels of reported internet proficiency were more likely to indicate that social media sites are more accessible to them.