Four out of five leading price comparison websites surveyed are inaccessible to disabled and elderly users, potentially putting them in breach of the Equality Act 2010, a new report has found.
Conducted by ICT access charity AbilityNet, the research presents a dismal picture of accessibility by disabled and elderly users for the websites, which allow people to compare prices of goods and services including online shopping and insurance prices.
A wide range of accessibility issues and barriers were found, including images without alternative text, rendering these images inaccessible to screen-readers; keyboard traps; inconsistent navigation of pages; colour contrasts which may be difficult for visually impaired users; and fixed text sizes.
Fixing these basic issues would be a relatively simple process, and “would benefit millions of potential customers”, Robin Christopherson, Head of Digital Inclusion at AbilityNet, told E-Access Bulletin.
Four out of the five comparison websites surveyed (comparethemarket.com, gocompare.com mysupermarket.co.uk and confused.com) scored just one star out of five, and failed to achieve the minimum standard for estimated legal compliance, as set out by AbilityNet’s rating system – based partially on checkpoints set out in the widely-used international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
The fifth site, kelkoo.co.uk, scored two stars out of a possible five, achieving some of the legal requirements set out in the testing.
The sites were audited by AbilityNet using a mix of manual checks, an independent accessibility testing tool (the HiSoftware Compliance Sheriff: http://bit.ly/ITVZqz ), and testing by disabled computer users.
Unfortunately, price comparison websites are far from unique in their lack of accessibility, Christopherson said: “In our estimation, around 90%-95% of websites out there don’t meet a base level of accessibility and don’t comply with legal and moral requirements. There is also a very significant business case to making websites inclusive.”
The report is the latest in AbilityNet’s bi-monthly ‘State of the eNation’ reports, each examining the accessibility of websites in a particular sector. It is available as a Word document:
or as a PDF: