At A Glance Screen Reader Survey 5

Web AIM(External Website) is conducting surveys to observe the trends in usage of screen readers since January 2009. Recently the results of 5th screen reader user survey are published. Naturally myself being a follower of Web AIM (External website) and user of screen reader, I thought of putting my views and share the results with my Maxability readers. Here we go, have a look at the trend and provide your valuable comments and viewpoints.


1465 individuals have participated in the survey out of which 61% of participants are from North America. Europe and UK stood second with nearly 21%. Interestingly 95% of participants are individuals with disabilities. Since most of the respondents are users with disabilities the results can be considered to understand how people with disabilities access the technology as a whole and web in particular.

50% of screen reader users still vote for Freedom scientific(External website) JAWS as their primary screen reader. NVDA and VoiceOver are in second (18.6), third (10%) places respectively. Interestingly Window-Eyes dropped from 12.3% to 6.7 % since last screen reader survey. Industry experts are anticipating that Window-eyes usage may increase with the availability of Window-Eyes with Microsoft Office. Usage of NVDA as reliable free open source screen reader is increasing. Almost 50% voted for NVDA and 36% voted VoiceOver as alternate screen readers.

Coming to the browser usage 51% use Internet Explorer 8 and above and 24% use Mozilla. 10% use Safari. I assume these 10% Safari users are VoiceOver users. Just 2.8 use Google Chrome. While the developers think about the back-word compatibility the use of Internet explorer 7 (3.0%) and Internet Explorer 6 (4.2%) gives the indication if it is advisable to invest time fixing those issues.

Usage of mobile screen readers increased to a greater extent. 82% of the respondents use screen readers on mobile devices. VoiceOver for IOS stands far from all other mobile screen readers with 60% usage while Talkback for Android takes the second position with approximately 22%.

Web Accessibility

To answer “Which of the following do you think would have a bigger impact on improvements to web accessibility? Better more accessible websites or better assistive technologies”, 81.3% voted for better more accessible websites. It clearly underlines that the developers should be aware of accessibility standards, assistive technologies and develop accessible websites to aid users with disabilities than waiting for the assistive technology venders to do the magic. 39.6% of participants voted for lack of awareness of web accessibility, 27.4% voted for lack of web accessibility skill and knowledge and 24.5 are feared that web accessibility hinders the look, feel, and functionality are the reasons for developing inaccessible websites.

The interesting question that attracted me in this survey is “How comfortable would you be with allowing web sites to detect whether you are using a screenreader?” After seeing this question I started investigating how to detect a screen reader. The Web AIM discussion thread (external website) and How do you detect a screen reader? (external website) Humanising Technology Blog confirms that websites will not be able to detect whether user is running a screen reader on his/her computer. In such case I am not sure why this question is added in the survey.

Usage of heading structure to navigate the webpage is increasing from survey to survey. Currently 65% users use headings to find the required information. Usage of landmarks to jump from one section to another section of the page is also increasing slowly.

The complete web AIM survey results could be found at

Points to remember

  • 92% of participants feel lack of awareness, skill, knowledge and fear that web accessibility hinders the look, feel and functionalities are the reasons for inaccessible websites.
  • Only 2.8% of screen reader users use Google Chrome, Google needs to let the users aware that Chrome is also an accessible browser. Developers can think if accessibility support to Google Chrome is a priority or not.
  • Only 6.3 % participants use Window-Eyes. Let us see if the free Window-Eyes with Microsoft Office can change these demographics.
  • 82% of participants use screen readers on mobiles. Accessible mobile websites are also high priority.


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