WebAIM Screenreader Survey Results 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009 7:20 | Filed in Accessibility, Social Media, Standards, Technology

As the title of this article suggests, WebAIM have released the results of their second screen reader survey. I would therefore suggest you head over there and read those results for yourself. Or you can head over an look at their summary.

If you can’t be bothered to do either of those things, you might instead want to have a quick glance at the things which struck me as interesting…

  • The survey had 665 valid responses
  • Only 4.7% described themselves as beginners with screen reader technology (but as they point out, we shouldn’t draw inferences from this, because there is no way of knowing if this survey sample is fully representative — which we also need to bear in mind when looking at the other results)
  • JAWS is the primary screen reader for most (2/3 of correspondents) but 5 other screen readers have shares over 1% so we can’t assume screen reader = JAWS
  • 83% have updated their screen reader in the past year (but if the survey sample is artificially tech-savvy, this might be artificially high also)
  • When asked which browser was used with their primary reader, the top four, in order, were IE8, IE7, Firefox 3, then IE6. It’s worth noting that the IE6 percentage is significantly lower than reported by most site analytics, although it’s difficult to tell whether this relates to screen reader requirements or sample selection
  • More than 74% of users report that javascript is not disabled in their browser, with almost 15% don’t know. Is javascript still the big bogeyman barrier suggested by WCAG 1.0?
  • There’s something very interesting about alt text. I’ve always been working on the assumption — long backed up by other professionals — that screen reader users would prefer to have decorative images to have a null alt text so that they would be ignored by the screen reader. It would instead appear that over 75% would prefer either “smiling lady” or “photo of smiling lady” to indicate such an image (of a smiling lady). Not particularly convinced this result should see a change in best practice however — but I’m open to persuasion if this is what people want…
  • The most problematic three items were CAPTCHA (presumably particularly those which are visual-only), Flash, and ambiguous links. Looks like another vote for the end of ‘click here’ as well as a reminder to all those companies who produce inaccessible flash-only versions that they are causing accessibility problems
  • …in comparison, lack of ‘skip’ links doesn’t seem to bother many people
  • Social media use seems to be (mostly) tied in with perceived accessibility, with the most used social media tool (YouTube) being seen as at least ‘somewhat accessible’ by 78% of people (although not the highest), and the least used (MySpace) reporting the least accessible (assuming that the graph is correct, and not the figures, which were wildly out of whack with the graph at the time I put this together). MySpace, which is least used, is reported as one of the most accessible; some of the most used are reported as the most accessible, so there does not appear to be a direct link between accessibility and use, . This information would be better presented in next years survey as a % difference between screen reader users and users in general — as it would be more possible to draw comparisons as we could see differences in trends: it’s impossible to know to what extent (if any) these percentages are affected by accessibility without knowing the % use in the general population
  • In short, there is no “typical” screen reader user.
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Comments to WebAIM Screenreader Survey Results 2009

  1. Gary Miller says:

    November 2nd, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    A good summary of some very interesting results from yet another excellent survey by WebAIM.

  2. onlinehealthmedicine says:

    January 30th, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    What a great web log. I spend hours on the net reading blogs, about tons of various subjects. I have to first of all give praise to whoever created your theme and second of all to you for writing what i can only describe as an fabulous article. I honestly believe there is a skill to writing articles that only very few posses and honestly you got it. The combining of demonstrative and upper-class content is by all odds super rare with the astronomic amount of blogs on the cyberspace.

  3. garment business daily says:

    September 10th, 2011 at 4:07 am

    Blogs ou should be reading…

    [...]Here is a Great Blog You Might Find Interesting that we Encourage You[...]……

  4. Juvie says:

    October 7th, 2012 at 1:43 am

    16/07/2010 12:49 am I love my Iphone 4 alot, but this reception pleorbm Im having is really becoming a hassle. I hope Apple would give us a free bumper. If they do not handle this issue its really going to damage their reputation.

Leave a comment