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An enquiry into the acceptance of accessible web content and web design standards by UK small businesses.


4.1 SME Survey Response

The response to the questionnaire was very positive. Thirty eligible respondents completed the online forms which exceeded the minimum target of twenty replies. The results were entered into a spreadsheet and the statistics were extrapolated.

The full tabulations of the results are included as Appendices V-VIII.

4.2 Designer Survey Response

The response to the designer survey was also very encouraging. Of the six designers asked to answer the questions, four obliged and the other two cited work reasons, but one expressed an interest in proof-reading the document and linking to it from the Web Standards Project website. The designers who replied were:

Their short biographies (to demonstrate their involvement with accessibility to date) and full responses are included as Appendices III and IX-XII respectively.

4.3 SME Questionnaire Error Compensation

Four businesses claimed they had some experience of web design through their work. Although web designers are not excluded from the study as they operate as SMEs under the same laws, to assume that 13.4% of small businesses in the UK are web design firms would be erroneous, and their choice to partake may have been due to their high interest in the subject. Therefore for the sake of comparison, the statistics affected are displayed twice, with all statistics including these four respondents indicated in square parenthesis e.g. [65]. With a relatively small sample it can mean a number of percentage points difference. Any values quoted outside of the methodology are calculated with these four businesses omitted as it assumed that professional web design firms are more aware of their own industry than SMEs in other fields.

4.4 Classification

Some basic statistics are listed here to give an idea of the classification of the responses.

4.5 Quantitative Data Summary

Here is a list of some of the critical figures. More comprehensive information is located in Appendices V-VIII.

Figure 4.1, Businesses With A Website

Pie Chart: Percentage of respondents with a website: 12% have a website, 88% do not have a website

Figure 4.2, Website Management

Pie Chart: Control of Website Management: 38% are managed externally, 45% are managed by Themselves and 17% are managed by an In-House department

Figure 4.3, Aware of the DDA

Pie Chart: Percentage of respondents aware of the DDA: 27% are aware, 73% are not aware

Figure 4.4, Aware of “Website Accessibility”

Pie Chart: Percentage of respondents aware of Website Accessibility; 38% are aware, 24% are unsure and 38% are not aware

The businesses were asked if they had heard of a number of different international and UK accessibility initiatives, guidelines and standards (see Figure 4.5)

Figure 4.5, SME awareness of accessibility initiatives and organisations

Chart showing SME awareness of accessibility initiatives and organisations; Approximate values; WCAG - 85% have no knowledge, 15% have heard of it. WAI - 92% have no knowledge, 8% ahve heard of it. WaSP - 90% have no knowledge, 5% have heard of it and 5% are very familiar with it. Boody/WebXact - 88% have no knowledge, 4% have heard of it and 8% have some knowledge. A, AA & AAA - 88% have no knowledge, 12% have head of it. Section 508 - 97% have no knowledge, 3% have heard of it. PAS 78 - 100% have no knowledge of it

The respondents’ attitudes of accessibility were recorded. They were given six (exclusive) choices (see Table 4.1)

Table 4.1, Attitudes towards web accessibility
% Attitude Expressed
23% Accessibility is expensive and/or a waste of time as the small number of our customers affected will either not be bothered or will contact us in another way.
27% We have no need for extra accessibility. Our customers/visitors are able enough to cope, but we will provide support to them if they ask.
4% We actively promote our website accessibility and ensure we provide measures to attract people with access needs, even if we have to pay more to do this.
27% We would like to think we are accessible to as many people as possible, but we probably won't be going out of our way or spending more just to attract a handful of customers.
4% We meet any suggested standards because we have heard of legal actions against companies that don't conform.
15% Other

The respondents were asked if they felt this if the prior legal cases were a concern to them as a small business. 50% said they were concerned, 27% [23] said they were not concerned and 23% [27] said they were unsure (see figure 4.6).

The respondents were asked who should be legally accountable for the access provisions of websites. 35% [33] said they believed it was solely the responsibility of the business and 36% [37] believed it to be the designers’ task to know the law and be fully accountable. The remaining 27% [30] believed in joint accountability (see figure 4.7).

Figure 4.6, Concerned by legal action

Pie Chart: Percentage of respondents concerned about legal action; 50% are concerned, 23% are unsure and 27% are not concerned

Figure 4.7, Legal responsibility

Pie Chart: Legal Responsibility; 27% believe in Joint Responsibility, 35% believe in business responsibility and 38% believe in designer responsibility

Table 4.2 shows how the respondents said they would react if accessibility of websites was legislated for§ .

Table 4.2, Actions that would be taken in event of access becoming a legal requirement
% Action To Be Taken
12% No Actions
8% Hire A Consultant
81% Ask The Designer
23% Order A Redesign
0% Close The Site - These laws shouldn't apply to SMEs
12% Close The Site - It wouldn't affect our trade

§ Note that it was not implied that this is already the law. This was done in order not lead respondents who were unawares of the law from changing their natural responses; however it would not affect the response of people who already knew this.

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