During October 2017, Web AIM has conducted the 7th screen reader user survey. In this article I want to summarize the Web AIM screen reader user survey 7 results for my readers. This will allow you all to take critical decisions for your on-going and future web accessibility projects. The complete results can be viewed at Web AIM screen reader user survey #7 results (external).
The 7th screen reader user survey was taken by 1792 users out of which 1585 reported that they use screen readers due to a disability. This indicates that the results can be taken as direct input given by the end users themselves. A few of these participants (129) reported they have hard of hearing and cognitive disability. These percent may not be screen reader users.
Though majority of the survey takers are from North America (60%), users from Europe, Asia, Africa & middle east and Australia have also taken it. This indicates a global participation.
Screen reader demographics
The latest screen reader user survey revealed that JAWS is undoubtedly the leader in the desktop screen reader market with 46% share followed by NVDA 32%. Voiceover on Mac operating system increased to 11.7% from 7.6% in 2015. JAWS and NVDA has also increased their share but the major change is because Window Eyes was packaged free with MS office during 2015 survey.
The statistics of commonly used screen readers is really interesting. JAWS share is 66.0 and NVDA is 64.9. This means the difference is just 1.1%.
In case of mobile screen readers almost 88% reported that they use screen reader on mobile device. This is almost 20% increase from 2015. In 2015 survey 69.2% respondents reported that they use mobile screen reader. Though the Apple devices are considered expensive voiceover takes the major share of mobile screen reader market. 75.6% reported that they use Apple products while Android users are just 22%.
It is very clear that Firefox is the browser used by most of the screen reader users on desktop. Firefox is used by 41% of respondents. With the recent release of Firefox quantum which might not be a smooth experience for the screen reader usability, this might be changed in future. Internet explorer 11 with 23.3% and Google Chrome with 15.5 % are in the next places. Safari’s share is 10.5%. This may be purely by voiceover on Mac users. Microsoft Edge is not yet adopted by screen reader users. The current share is just 0.5%. The combine share of internet explorer 10 and below is slightly more than 8%.
Screen reader and browser combinations
As we explained in our article screen reader and browser combination, JAWS and internet explorer form a pair with 24.7% share, NVDA and Firefox with 23.6%, Voiceover and Safari with 10%. The other interesting combination is JAWS with firefox having 15.1%. This might be due to high % of users having JAWS as their primary screen reader and Firefox as their primary browser.
As we noted 88% of the respondents use mobile screen readers the use of mobile apps Vs mobile websites is also interesting. To accomplish a task 46% users are likely to use mobile app while 54% are interested in using website. This is a marginal difference. Also it was noted that the proficient screen reader users are likely to use mobile apps. So no wonder the usage of mobile apps will increase in the future compared with the use of mobile website.
Web Accessibility facts
85% of the respondents claimed that it is the responsibility of the developers to provide accessible websites. Two questions in this section, one talking about the landmarks to navigate the web page and the other ways to find the required information directly or indirectly reveals that headings are the most used mechanisms to navigate different portions of the web page. Almost 60% of respondents said that they expect a first level heading with the document title. Being an accessibility consultant I recommend having a skip to main content link for keyboard only users and a first level heading at the beginning of the main content to skip the repeated navigational items on the web page. I strongly believe both of them are important while landmarks can be an additional advantage to satisfy 2.4.1 Bypass blocks.
Finally, CAPTCHA is still the major problematic item on the web. Content that updates dynamically is noted as the second problematic item in this survey. This indicates that the developers should be more careful while developing complex interactions and widgets on the websites. Providing meaningful text for links and buttons, keyboard accessibility and forms accessibility are also noted as problematic elements by many respondents.
Thank you web AIM for this survey. Hope digital content becomes more accessible in the future.