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Awareness of the need for digital accessibility is growing across the globe, according to the survey by digital quality and crowd-testing company Applause, with 69% of respondents saying their company is prioritizing digital accessibility now more than ever because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organizations struggle to attain full digital accessibility status.

Above: While two-thirds of respondents said they are prioritizing digital accessibility, their development and testing efforts are still lagging.

Image Credit: Applause

This trend is more pronounced among larger companies, those with 1,000+ employees, as 73.5% said digital accessibility was a bigger priority for them.

However, the increased visibility and awareness of digital accessibility does not always result in action -– two-thirds of the global respondents said their company hasn’t tested for accessibility within the last three months, and nearly half say their company hasn’t tested for accessibility within the last six months. This is a trend that needs to be corrected, as testing is an essential step in identifying and solving accessibility issues.

There multiple reasons why designing accessible websites and applications made sense for businesses, such as improved user experience, deeper market penetration and brand awareness, improved automation efforts, and mitigating legal risks.

The survey also found that the importance placed on delivering accessible digital experiences to end users varies by role. Over half (57.4%) of the engineers in the survey said they only sometimes, rarely or never write code with accessibility in mind. This finding is concerning for a few reasons – first is that building accessibility into digital experiences from the outset improves the overall quality and experience for all users. And second, there is a financial implication in not considering accessibility when writing code as accessibility issues are much harder, more time-consuming and more costly to fix later on in the software development lifecycle.

While there is still work to do on the engineering side, the trends were more positive among those in product roles. More than three-quarters of product managers say they are working accessibility into their design plans at the earliest stages of development. This is an encouraging sign as designing for all users at the outset is a critical step in building inclusive products.

Earlier this year, Applause ran a global survey of more than 1,800 engineering, QA, product, DevOps, marketing, CX/UX and legal professionals on the state of digital accessibility at their companies.

Read the full Accessibility Testing report.

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