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The Most Common Web Accessibility Issue of 2024 (and How to Fix It)

May 3, 2024

Every year, WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind) analyzes the accessibility of the homepages of the internet’s top 1 million websites. 

It’s not a scientific analysis — WebAIM uses automated tools, which certainly aren’t perfect. But the 2024 WebAIM Million report provides a decent overview of how digital accessibility is progressing (or regressing) at scale. 

Unfortunately, the numbers are rarely encouraging. In 2024, for example:

  • 95.9% of home pages had detectable failures of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the international standards for accessibility. This was a slight improvement from 96.3% in 2023.
  • On average, the tested websites had 56.8 errors per page.
  • Users with disabilities could expect to encounter errors on 1 out of every 21 home page elements.

There is some good news. Most of the detected errors fell into six categories; if webmasters would pay more attention to those categories, web accessibility would improve dramatically. 

So, what types of accessibility errors are webmasters failing to address?

In 2024, the most common web accessibility issue was low-contrast text

Low-contrast text is a problem for everyone: When text isn’t distinct from its background, it’s less readable. People with color vision deficiencies (also referred to as color blindness) and other vision issues may be unable to see certain text — which is why WCAG establishes simple design thresholds.

Specifically, WCAG requires that:

The visual presentation of text and images of text has a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1, except for the following:

  • Large Text:  Large-scale text and images of large-scale text have a contrast ratio of at least 3:1;
  • Incidental: Text or images of text that are part of an inactive user interface component, that are pure decoration, that are not visible to anyone, or that are part of a picture that contains significant other visual content, have no contrast requirement.
  • Logotypes: Text that is part of a logo or brand name has no contrast requirement.

Unfortunately, most web designers ignore those requirements. In WebAIM’s 2024 Million report, low-contrast text was found on 81% of homepages. 

For people in the accessibility space, that wasn’t surprising; WebAIM has consistently ranked low-contrast as the most common accessibility failure in its annual reports. 

Related: Designing for Color Contrast: Guidelines for Accessibility

To fix low-contrast text, test color-pairs when designing content

Often, low-contrast text can be fixed with a quick adjustment to your website’s CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Of course, if you’ve rendered images of text, you’ll have to recreate those images — one of the many reasons why we recommend against images of text.

The Bureau of Internet Accessibility provides the free a11y® Color Contrast Validator, which can automatically scan web content for potential WCAG failures. Designers can also input hex codes to test specific color-pairs.  

Related: Why Is It Important for Accessibility to Use Actual Text Instead of Images of Text?

Other common accessibility issues can be remediated easily

Most web accessibility issues can be fixed with minimal effort — and in some cases, WCAG failures can be fixed automatically with software. 

Most of WebAIM’s most-detected WCAG failures are simple issues that can be fixed easily:

Fixing these issues can improve web experiences for all users — regardless of their abilities — and help your website reach new audiences. Remember, web accessibility isn’t just a legal necessity: It’s an excellent tool for growing your business. 

To learn more about the best practices of WCAG, schedule a free 30-minute consultation today or download our free eBook: Developing the Accessibility Mindset. 

Use our free Website Accessibility Checker to scan your site for ADA and WCAG compliance.

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