Global report highlights failings in accessibility processes and procurement

A global survey conducted by AbilityNet shows that, despite widespread senior endorsement of accessibility and inclusion, most organisations still need to adapt their project processes to embed accessibility. They are also failing to adapt their procurement policies and processes, leaving a back door open to accessibility and compliance complaints.

The Attitudes to Digital Accessibility survey was completed by almost 500 people from around the world and launched at AbilityNet's annual conference TechShare Pro conference on 17 November 2022. The full report has now been published and reveals a mixed picture of digital accessibility improvements and barriers. It also points to the next steps any organisation can take to improve the accessibility of its services and workplace.

Graphic of a calculator being pressedKey findings

AbilityNet worked with Open Inclusion, a disability and age-inclusive research, design and innovation agency, to design the survey and analyse its results, the key findings of which show:

  1. Leadership: Positive change is coming from the top. Respondents from executive and senior level roles prioritised accessibility more highly than those in more operational roles. Leaders were also more positive than managers and non-managerial respondents in their perception of their organisation’s business performance and commitment to digital accessibility. 
  2. Motivations: The main motivator for accessibility is legal requirements, followed by brand values and reputation. There is still relatively low understanding and appreciation of the importance of digital accessibility to achieve core business objectives such as revenue maximisation, customer or employee satisfaction and retention, product lifecycle cost management and innovation. 
  3. Capability: Accessibility training is not provided as standard in most organisations, with limited or no formal or centralised guidance for developing accessibility skills.
  4. Processes: There is a clear opportunity for development or improvement of documented, clear and well-maintained accessibility processes, to embed accessibility more consistently and efficiently, and ensure more consistent and efficient delivery across digital products, departments and roles.
  5. Procurement: Only 1 in 3 respondents said guidance existed within their organisation to help them consider whether external services would be accessible when integrated into their business or included in a website, app or other digital assets. This provides the risk of an open “side door” to inaccessible experiences through vendors’ products.
The survey structure reflects AbilityNet's Digital Accessibility Maturity Model.

Find out how this simple, five-part model helps you to build a picture of current strengths and weaknesses and identify a roadmap for next steps and improvements.

Gary Moore, CEO of AbilityNet, commented on the survey results: 

“This survey has helped us take stock of what is happening in the broader accessibility community and paints a somewhat mixed picture. However, you'll discover there are more positive responses than negative across all of the survey topics covered, and there's a general picture of digital accessibility finally being on the agenda for senior leadership in a majority of organisations.”

Read the report

[An accessible Word version is also available to download]

Further report findings

Graphic showing a picture of a head, with a lightbulb in place of the brainHalf of the respondents agreed that there is a clearly stated vision for digital accessibility within their organisation, and just over half feel that there is commitment from leaders to progress digital accessibility. 

Just under half (46%) agreed to some extent that their organisation helps them develop digital accessibility skills. However, the majority of these are “to some extent” with just 1 in 6 people agreeing strongly, the same number who disagree strongly. This shows that opportunities for skills development are still very mixed.    

Less than 1 in 3 (33%) respondents agreed to some extent and almost the same number (30%) disagreed to some extent with the following statement about Procurement: ‘My organisation ensures that purchasing practices and decisions help us maintain or progress our digital accessibility objectives.’

Learn more about procurement and accessibility in our upcoming free webinar!

Join us for our webinar on Tuesday 27th June 2023 at 1pm BST to learn more about accessible procurement and find out how leading accessibility professionals from Google, University of Westminster and Funka are working with their procurement teams.   

Accessibility and Procurement is an Achilles Heel

Mark Walker, Head of Marketing and Portfolio at AbilityNet, says of the findings:

“There are several areas which raise concerns about how deeply the commitment from senior leadership towards digital accessibility reaches, especially when looking at where accessibility fits into processes. A low priority is given to procurement, for example, which remains an Achilles Heel for many of the organisations we work with at AbilityNet.”

About the survey: Attitudes to Digital Accessibility 2022

AbilityNet’s annual survey was open for responses from 20 September to 3 October 2022. A total of 447 respondents have been included in the full dataset. 


Read the report

[An accessible Word version is also available to download]

Access the survey methodology.

Further resources: