61pc of Ireland’s service websites are not accessible, says report

16 Nov 2022

Taoiseach Micheál Martin; Kyran O’Mahoney, co-founder and director of IA Labs and CTO at NCBI; June Tinsley, head of advocacy and communications at NCBI; Senator Martin Conway. Image: IA Labs

Three of the country’s five most popular social media apps are not digitally accessible for people with disabilities, according to a new audit.

Despite the fact legislation will soon require websites in the EU to be digitally accessible for all, many leading sites in Ireland are inaccessible to people with disabilities.

Research by Inclusion and Accessibility Labs (IA Labs) and the National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) has found that 61pc of Ireland’s top service websites are digitally inaccessible.

Their report audited more than 40 websites and mobile apps that would typically be used on a daily basis. These platforms were assessed based their usability for people with disabilities and compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Three of the country’s five most popular social media apps are not digitally accessible for people with disabilities, the audit found, while three of Ireland’s five most popular news websites are also inaccessible.

Just two of the six most popular clothing websites in Ireland are usable for a person living with a disability, it added, and four out of five food delivery apps could not be used by a person with a disability.

NCBI and IA Labs published their findings today (16 November) to coincide with Digital First Day.

This Government initiative is aiming to celebrate and assess the impact digitalisation is having in Ireland. It also hopes to tackle the digital divide at all levels of our society and advance economic and social regional development across the country.

“Over the last number of years, digital has become an essential component of our everyday lives and is transforming the ways in which we work, learn, socialise and access information,” said Taoiseach Micheál Martin, TD.

He added that every person across the country should be able to “embrace the benefits that digital offers”, and so acknowledged the “critical” research from IA Labs and NCBI.

Recent research also carried out by IA Labs and NCBI found that 89pc of recruitment websites in Ireland are inaccessible. Another report by IA Labs in April found that 72pc of Irish companies’ websites are not accessible for people with disabilities.

Speaking on the launch of the latest report, NCBI CTO and co-founder and director of IA Labs, Kyran O’Mahoney, urged people to take action before the EU introduces further digital accessibility legislation.

“Our research demonstrates that people with disabilities are continuing to face barriers and obstacles in an economy and society that is becoming increasingly reliant on digital technology.

“Given that it will soon become mandatory under EU law, businesses, organisations and service providers in Ireland need to check their website or mobile app’s compliance against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and take concrete steps to ensure full accessibility.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.