Ryan Wieland

WebAIM Screen Reader Survey #10: Key Takeaways for 2024 and Beyond

WebAIM recently released the tenth edition of its annual survey on screen reader preferences. This survey, which took place in December and January, provides us with amazing insight into the preferences and usage rates of those who use screen reader technology daily.

The report is highly detailed and has vast content, so our team strongly recommends reviewing the entire Survey Results on the WebAIM site

After analyzing this year’s survey results, we wanted to provide an overview of our key takeaways and some key trends compared to previous studies.

Some context on the survey that adds additional and exciting data points to the results, compared to previous years, is that the WebAIM team noted achieving better global representation in this year’s data. Survey respondents were from a much more diverse global geography than in years past. 

Furthermore, in this year’s version, there was a significant increase in users from the age group of 60 or older compared to previous years. This highlights the importance of considering website accessibility efforts for diverse age groups.

Overall, this year’s survey included 1,539 valid responses, with some of our key takeaways outlined below.

Mobile Usage among Respondents

It is no surprise that ‘mobile-first’ continues to be a trend among technology users worldwide, with many teams developing a mobile-first mindset more frequently across many industries. Mobile usage has also continued to rise significantly among screen reader users in recent years, with 91.3% of respondents to this year’s survey reporting using a screen reader on a mobile device!

This will be an interesting trend to follow when cross-referenced with predicted digital accessibility legal cases in 2024. 

For example, Accessibility.com predicted in its annual report that there will be a 300% increase in mobile website and application lawsuits this year. 

I think this number is a lofty prediction for various reasons, as I reflect weekly on actions and tactics by the high-volume plaintiffs filing many of these lawsuits. 

However, the high usage of mobile screen readers reported by users with disabilities in this year’s WebAIM survey would make this prediction seem pretty reasonable.

iOS vs. Android Screen Reader Usage

This year’s survey continued to show much higher usage of iOS devices among users with a disability at 72.4% versus usage on Android at around 27%. iOS usage has been largely flat, hovering around 75% since the 2017 study, but Android has gained slight market share usage in the past 5 years.

One key takeaway from this when considering mobile accessibility testing and prioritization is the importance of testing both iOS and Android applications as part of your long-term strategy. 

However, especially when building within a cross-platform framework such as React Native or Flutter, it can be a sound approach to test your iOS application first and then perform QA testing post-remediation on Android devices when trying to scale accessibility results as quickly as possible to the broadest audience of users with disabilities.

NVDA’s Increase in Usage Rate

In reviewing this year’s results, one usage trend that popped up was the continued increase of NVDA as the primary screen reader used by assistive technology users that we have seen the past few years. In fact, this year, NVDA nearly passed JAWS as the primary screen reader used by respondents. 

To me, this is a very positive and welcome trend, considering the NV Access Team has continued to increase their software’s capabilities while also having the mission of providing FREE and easy access to assistive technology for every Blind or Vision–Impaired individual—compared to other options such as JAWS, which require a paid subscription.

Among others, there are two potential key takeaways from these results.

One is the more global presence of respondents, which likely bumped NVDA usage results when considering lower-income regions worldwide opting for the no-cost option. With that said NV Access’s mission and vision are critically important to the disabled community and their access to strong assistive technology as a baseline for equitable access. 

The second takeaway is that development teams looking to dip their toes into even light-QA testing with a screen reader are justified in opting for the free option in NVDA.

Global Laws Intersect with Screen Reader Usage

In parallel to the global increase in survey respondents and global screen reader usage within this year’s WebAIM Survey compared to prior years, it is interesting to note that this perfectly intersects with an increase in web accessibility requirements across the globe. Most notably, the survey saw 31% of respondents from Europe, where the European Accessibility Act takes hold, with web accessibility compliance requirements going into effect on July 1, 2025. 

For businesses operating in or dealing with Europe, it’s clear that there is a growing consumer base using assistive technology on digital platforms, and pending legislation deadlines to comply with.

Long story short, if you do not already have a digital accessibility plan underway, now is the time to act!

Headings Matter

A fascinating insight from this year’s survey that is highly applicable to all web developers and content managers is the heavy use of headings by screen reader users when navigating websites. In fact, the 2024 survey found that 71.6% of respondents leverage headings to find information on pages. Leveraging headings for locating information has continued to increase over time.

Not only is this critical for screen reader users navigating your website, but it is also commonly called out in web accessibility demand letters and lawsuits. The WebAIM survey would seem to validate this claim, but a big part of this also comes from the fact that heading levels, or lack thereof and/or illogical order of heading levels, is easily found by automated testing tools. 

In fact, Allyant has a robust accessibility tool for identifying improper heading levels that is readily usable for developers and content managers across all skill levels of accessibility to drive accessibility of your web pages while also reducing legal risk. 

For more information on this topic, our team recently wrote an article on ensuring your heading levels are accurate.

Decrease in Web Accessibility?

Finally, one very alarming survey result was the perceived decrease in website accessibility since 2021. In this year’s survey, 18.6% of respondents noted that web content has become less accessible, and 46.8% feel it has not changed. Although the decrease was not drastic purely based on percentages, in three years, with all the technological advances and the ability to do seemingly everything in a virtual or digital environment, it would seem realistic to think accessibility has progressed.

Unfortunately, users of screen readers living with a disability disagreed.

With new and pending legal regulations going into effect in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and other places throughout the world, the time is now to ensure you have a strong digital accessibility project plan in place.

We can all work together to ensure the next WebAIM study shows an increase in web accessibility – but it takes the realization that accessibility is an ongoing process and no ‘quick fix’ or automated-only approach will solve issues for users in your digital environments leveraging assistive technology such as screen readers.

If your organization is looking for support on building an accessibility roadmap and including testers with disabilities, such as native screen readers, reach out to our team below. We would be happy to help!

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