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.
Notes to editor:
This survey focused on major aspects of WCAG 2.1 Levels A and AA that are verifiable through automated testing, including important factors that contribute to keyboard accessibility, navigability, and screen reader compatibility. These included:
- use of headings and labels
- provision of meaningful link text
- provision of alternative (alt) text for non-text assets such as images
- ability to resize text
- inclusion of a visible focus
- ability to navigate in a logical order
For the purpose of this research, one month’s worth of data was assessed. Access the full report Failure at the Top; Websites of America’s Largest Companies Plagued by Accessibility Issues, Risking Litigation and Loss of Market Share.
Ovum is part of FTSE 100 Informa Group, one of the worlds leading providers of business intelligence. Informa has over 6,500 employees and delivers specialized information to companies operating in sectors including finance, telecoms, media and IT.
A market-leading data, research and consulting business, Ovum is focused on helping digital service providers and their technology partners thrive in the connected digital economy. We create business advantage for our customers by providing actionable insight to support their business planning, product development and go-to-market initiatives.
For more information about Ovum, please contact them at ovum.informa.com/contact/contact-us.
Crownpeak provides the leading, enterprise-grade, cloud-first Digital Experience Management (DXM) platform. The Crownpeak DXM platform empowers Fortune 2000 companies to quickly and easily create, deploy and optimize customer experiences across global digital touchpoints at scale. Besides featuring content management, personalization, search, and hosting, it is the only digital experience platform that includes built-in Digital Quality Management (DQM) to ensure brand integrity, best practices, and web accessibility compliance. In 2017, Crownpeak acquired Evidon, the leading provider of simple technical solutions to complex digital Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC) challenges. These solutions including the Universal Consent Platform and TagControl, are designed to help companies comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and other new country and state privacy regulations.
For more information please visit: crownpeak.com.
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