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best websites for accessibility

Website Accessibility Report

For most of us, the internet provides almost unlimited access to all the information, products and services we could possibly need. However, there are still many people who struggle to access even the most ubiquitous sites on the web.

Often, visually impaired users have various requirements in order to browse online. Therefore, with over two million people in the United Kingdom alone living with some form of sight loss, websites that do not fulfil these requirements are disabling access to a large proportion of our community.

But which websites provide the most and least accessibility for those around the world living with visual impairments? Lenstore analysed 90 of the most popular online platforms to find the answer.

Lenstore has created their own unique index as part of their Website Accessibility Report. It ranks each site’s performance on a scale of 1-10 across various factors such as contrast, anchor text, empty headers and text—all of which can make accessibility difficult for visually impaired users. An overall ranking has been provided based on their cumulative scores to determine the most and least accessible websites.

PayPal ranks top of the 10 most accessible websites with a near perfect 9.9/10 score

Category

Website

Contrast Errors

Empty Headers

Missing Alternative Text

Null or Empty Alternative Text

Other Text Alerts

Overall score

Banking Credit and Lending

paypal.com

0

0

0

0

7

9.99

Health

alodokter.com

0

0

0

0

5

9.99

Banking Credit and Lending

spectrum.net

1

0

0

1

3

9.99

Health

cdc.gov

0

0

0

0

10

9.98

Social Networks and Online Communities

messenger.com

3

0

0

3

1

9.98

Health

medlineplus.gov

0

0

0

0

16

9.97

Health

nhs.uk

1

0

0

9

5

9.96

Health

cvs.com

1

0

0

3

14

9.96

Health

doctolib.fr

2

0

0

8

8

9.95

Banking Credit and Lending

capitalone.com

0

0

1

5

13

9.95

Of the 90 websites studied, PayPal was one of three that achieved a near perfect score of 9.9/10 in Lenstore’s website accessibility report. Studying the amount of contrast errors, empty headers, and null, missing or empty alt text across the website, PayPal scored perfect ten out of ten scores.

The overall ranking was brought down only by some text issues; 5 of these were identified on the website meaning it received a 9.96 score in this section when compared against other sites.

The text that resulted in accessibility issues with PayPal included adjacent links that go to the same location which results in additional navigation and repetition for screen reader users, as well as the use of PDFs which provide accessibility issues.

The other websites that scored 9.99 out of 10 were health provider Alodokter and financial service experts Spectrum.

Mail Online news site revealed to be the least accessible for visually impaired users

Category

Website

Contrast Errors

Empty Headers

Missing Alternative Text

Null or Empty Alternative Text

Other Text Alerts

Overall score

News

dailymail.co.uk

60

27

22

360

597

5.39

Arts and Entertainment

syosetu.com

340

0

12

0

831

6.3

Social Networks and Online Communities

line.me

16

0

0

640

396

7.26

News

thesun.co.uk

128

0

0

270

416

7.66

eCommerce

rakuten.co.jp

1

0

211

85

51

7.85

Arts and Entertainment

myanimelist.net

219

0

0

0

234

8.34

eCommerce

avito.ru

215

0

13

1

40

8.66

Arts and Entertainment

youku.com

0

0

76

0

254

8.8

eCommerce

taobao.com

115

0

56

1

23

8.86

Social Networks and Online Communities

reddit.com

147

0

0

28

112

8.9

The Daily Mail’s incredibly popular online news platform, the Mail Online, was found to be the least accessible website in Lenstore’s study. It scored the lowest overall number, just 5.39/10, after an analysis of their use of contrast, headers and anchor text.

Very low contrast between text and background colors can create myriad problems for users with low visibility, and there were 60 errors of this nature on the Daily Mail’s website.

Furthermore, Lenstore also found 27 missing headers, which can introduce confusion for keyboard and screen reader users, as well as 360 instances of missing alt text, which help visually impaired users understand any images they cannot see.

Arts and entertainment platform Soyetsu ranked second to bottom in Lenstore’s website accessibility study with a score of 6.30/10 having discovered over 830 issues with their on-page text. Social media platform Line was the third lowest with a 7.26/10 score due to its poor use of alt text.

Health sector websites have the greatest accessibility for visually impaired users

Category

Website

Contrast Errors

Empty Headers

Missing Alternative Text

Null or Empty Alternative Text

Other Text Alerts

Overall score

Health

alodokter.com

0

0

0

0

5

10.00

Health

cdc.gov

0

0

0

0

10

9.94

Health

medlineplus.gov

0

0

0

0

16

9.87

Health

cvs.com

1

0

0

3

14

9.75

Health

nih.gov

0

0

0

0

31

9.70

Health

nhs.uk

1

0

0

9

5

9.64

Health

doctolib.fr

2

0

0

8

8

9.60

Health

halodoc.com

2

0

0

7

17

9.53

Health

mayoclinic.org

0

0

0

17

8

9.37

Health

walgreens.com

0

0

0

51

28

7.93

Health

healthline.com

8

0

3

8

74

6.79

Health

tuasaude.com

44

1

0

1

81

6.38

Health

medicalnewstoday.com

3

0

3

12

160

5.85

Health

webmd.com

6

2

3

1

46

5.64

Unsurprisingly, the health sector is leading the way in website accessibility. Of the 14 major websites studied in this category, there was an overall average score of 9.86/10.

The aforementioned Alodokter may be the website with the most accessibility out of those studied, however, the CDC, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention which is the national public health agency of the United States, ranked closely behind it.

The CDC scored perfect 10s in every category other than its on-page text. There was found to be some ambiguous text, text that did not make sense out of context and extraneous text (such as "click here") that can cause confusion for users with accessibility requirements.

Website accessibility study highlights problems with media as news sites found to be least friendly to visually impaired users

Category

Website

Contrast Errors

Empty Headers

Missing Alternative Text

Null or Empty Alternative Text

Other Text Alerts

Overall score

News

usatoday.com

0

0

0

38

1

9.81

News

buzzfeed.com

2

0

0

44

32

9.66

News

bbc.co.uk

0

0

0

4

113

9.64

News

foxnews.com

1

0

1

0

124

9.57

News

cnbc.com

17

0

0

0

79

9.53

News

cnn.com

1

0

5

3

103

9.45

News

nypost.com

14

0

0

1

138

9.38

News

businessinsider.com

2

0

1

22

147

9.38

News

express.co.uk

14

0

0

10

175

9.23

News

finance.yahoo.com

43

0

1

13

43

9.16

News

nytimes.com

46

2

0

21

130

8.73

News

theguardian.com

54

0

1

62

107

8.57

News

washingtonpost.com

0

0

43

0

89

7.93

News

thesun.co.uk

128

0

0

270

416

5.60

News

dailymail.co.uk

60

27

22

360

597

2.84

The Daily Mail, which scored lowest overall in Lenstore’s website accessibility report, was not the only news platform that may require some improvement. The media industry had the worst overall performance in the study with an average rating of 9.21/10.

Most of the websites included in the study were able to score over 9/10 including the New York Times, The Guardian, BBC News and USA Today, the latter of which ranked highest overall with 9.89/10. However, The Sun’s website brought down the overall average, ranking only two points higher than the Daily Mail.

The Sun had 128 contrast errors which could result in visually impaired users being unable to read parts of the website, whilst there were 416 additional text errors related to the website’s structure, links and headings that caused accessibility issues.

The social media platforms offering the most and least accessibility

Website

Contrast Errors

Empty Headers

Missing Alternative Text

Null or Empty Alternative Text

Other Text Alerts

Overall score

messenger.com

3

0

0

3

1

10.0

discord.com

6

0

0

5

5

9.9

pinterest.com

1

0

0

7

19

9.9

tumblr.com

12

0

0

0

4

9.9

vk.com

11

0

0

6

14

9.9

tiktok.com

7

0

5

10

14

9.9

facebook.com

15

0

2

18

9

9.8

zhihu.com

31

0

0

1

1

9.8

whatsapp.com

17

1

6

0

11

9.8

linkedin.com

1

0

22

6

16

9.8

twitter.com

18

1

0

16

25

9.7

instagram.com

39

0

1

0

33

9.7

ok.ru

29

0

24

2

65

9.5

reddit.com

147

0

0

28

112

8.9

line.me

16

0

0

640

396

7.3

Facebook Messenger was found to be the most accessible platform for users with visual impairments. Aside from a very small handful of contrast errors and issues with anchor text, both of which can cause confusion for screen readers, the instant messenger scored perfect 10/10 scores in almost every category. Overall, Messenger scored 9.98/10.

But what of TikTok, arguably the most trendy social media platform at the moment? TikTok was found to be the 6th most accessible social site, beating its competitors Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. It scored high marks across the board in Lenstore’s report with an overall grade of 9.86/10.

Five ways that websites can improve accessibility:

  1. Ensure that the alternative text conveys the content and function of the image accurately and succinctly. The alt attribute should be equivalent, accurate, and succinct.
  1. Some visually impaired users, especially those using keyboard and screen reader users, often navigate by heading elements. An empty heading on your website will present no information to them, causing confusion.
  1. Identifying the language of the page or portion of the page. This allows screen readers to understand the content visually impaired users are accessing.
  1. Increase the contrast between the foreground text color and the background color. Large text, such as those larger than 18 point or 14 point or in bold, does not require as much contrast as smaller text.
  1. Image links can be confusing to users accessing websites via screen readers. Include appropriate alternative text on an image within a link to guarantee that the function and purpose of the link, as well as the content of the image itself, is understandable.

Whilst many website users with visual impairments may choose to improve their vision by wearing corrective contact lenses, this should be at their discretion. In order to create a fully accessible website, companies should be aware of problems users with visual impairments face, and be proactive in remedying these.

Data:

The full data can be found here.