Applause Global Accessibility Survey Shows Disconnect Between Making Accessibility a Priority and Achieving Conformance to WCAG 2.1 Standards

Reveals opportunity for improving accessibility knowledge and more consistent practices among developers

BOSTON--()--Applause, a world leader in testing and digital quality, today announced the results of its annual Accessibility and Inclusive Design Survey. The recently completed survey of more than 1,300 software testers, product engineers, legal professionals, software developers, QA and UX professionals across the globe, examines how companies prioritize accessibility when developing their digital experiences and how respondents rate their knowledge level regarding accessibility.

The study also asked respondents to rate their organizations’ levels of conformance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, a set of international standards for making web and mobile content more accessible to people with disabilities (PwD).

Key Findings

● More than 68% of respondents said that digital accessibility is a higher priority for their organizations than it was last year.

● Nearly 43% of respondents rated digital accessibility as a top priority for their organizations, which is down slightly from 46% in 2022; 37% rated accessibility as important. Fewer than 7% rated accessibility as either a low priority or not at all important to their organization.

● Despite the tendency for more organizations to prioritize accessibility than not, the survey shows that just over one-third are conforming to WCAG 2.1 (up from 30% in 2022).

● Regarding their personal level of understanding of digital accessibility, more than one-third of respondents rated their knowledge level as either basic (28%) or very little (7.5%). Under 6% consider themselves experts.

● Just less than one-fourth of the engineers who participated in the survey said they always write code with accessibility in mind, which, though a small group, is a considerable increase from 15% in 2022.

● More than 29% of product developers surveyed said they do not build accessibility into their design plans at the earliest stages (up from 27% in 2022 and 24% in 2021).

“With the pending update to WCAG standards this summer, and the implementation of the EU Accessibility Act in June 2025, companies need to commit to advancing their focus on accessibility and inclusivity for their digital products and experiences. Making strides in accessibility often requires education and a cultural shift within organizations. If there is a disconnect between prioritizing accessibility, and actually taking the steps necessary to make it a reality, it’s difficult to make progress. The survey shows we haven’t really seen a huge amount of progress over the past three years, and there is even a growing trend for product developers to be less likely to build accessibility into their design plans. Digital accessibility requires an ongoing commitment to building inclusive experiences, designing products and writing code with accessibility in mind, and then testing digital properties for accessibility throughout the development process,” said Bob Farrell, Vice President of Solution Delivery and CX Practices for Applause.

Motivators for Conformance

For a second year, respondents answered that the top three biggest motivators in achieving accessibility conformance were “improving usability for all end users” (45%), “building positive public perception” (22%) and “gaining and maintaining market share” (15%).

“Most organizations see the importance and value in releasing accessible products and experiences, but legal compliance is just a starting place. Truly accessible experiences require input from people with disabilities and non-disabled, both from a design and a testing angle. This is where organizations should engage the support of specialists where they need help, to ensure they are building fully accessible digital experiences for all,” Farrell said.

Additional Resources

Blog post: Advancing Equity Through Inclusive Design

Blog post: How to Avoid ADA Lawsuits and Remediate if You Can’t

Blog post: What is the European Accessibility Act?

Blog post: What is Digital Accessibility Testing? Standards, Guidelines and More

Ebook: Shift Left and Build Empathy Through Inclusive Design

About Applause

Applause is a world leader in testing and digital quality. Brands today win or lose customers through digital interactions, and Applause alone can deliver authentic feedback on the quality of digital assets and experiences, provided by real users in real-world settings. Our disruptive approach harnesses the power of the Applause platform and leverages the uTest community of more than one million digital testing professionals worldwide. Unlike traditional testing methods (including lab-based and offshoring), we respond with the speed, scale and flexibility that digital-focused brands require and expect. Applause provides insightful, actionable testing results that can directly inform go/no go release decisions, helping development teams build better and faster, and release with confidence. Digital-first brands rely on Applause as a best practice to deliver the digital experiences their customers love.


Jennifer Maguire:

Release Summary

Applause announced results of its annual Accessibility and Inclusive Design Survey examining accessibility prioritization and WCAG conformance.


Jennifer Maguire: