Website accessibility errors prevalent among healthcare providers

By Jo Makosinski | Published: 4-Oct-2023

Research reveals that private hospital websites have four times more accessibility errors than their NHS counterparts

People with vision-related access needs are finding it increasingly difficult to access healthcare websites, despite regulations aimed at reducing inequalities.

Currently it is estimated that almost nine million people in the UK have accessibility needs, and around three million people are colourblind, which can make accessing digital services more difficult. 

And accessibility is especially important when it comes to healthcare websites, as it can impact the ability of people with disabilities to access important information and services.

Now, experts at NEC Digital have analysed over 180 private hospital websites and 350 NHS hospital websites to assess how accessible these websites were for a user initially trying to access the site.

The findings reveal that while both NHS and private hospital websites had fewer accessibility errors than the average webpage, many still had errors and colour contrast issues that could impact low-vision users.

And private hospitals performed significantly worse, on average, when it came to accessibility barriers.

The research looked at the number of errors, contrast errors, and accessibility alerts on the page and each website was assigned an ‘accessibility score’ out of 10 – the higher the score, the more accessible the page.

The average accessibility score of the NHS hospital websites was 5.9, whereas private hospital pages scored an average of only 3.2.

NHS pages had an average of 5.4 accessibility errors per page and 5.6 contrast errors. However, private hospitals saw an average of 20.4 accessibility errors and 22.9 contrast issues. 

The most errors encountered on a single private hospital page was 52, while the figure was 42 for NHS pages.

And more than one in five hospital pages (both NHS and private) analysed had at least one colour contrast issue that could impact low-vision users

In light of these findings, there is a growing call for continued government focus on enhancing web accessibility across the healthcare sector, which may include increased investment in this area, or tighter regulations.

“Bridging the accessibility gap is both a legal requirement and a moral duty, improving the daily experience of individuals with accessibility needs,” said a spokesman for NEC Digital.

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