To answer the askers question, it looks like we have to use a little deduction. Nobody seems to collect these statistics outright. Someone wrote a very detailed article as to why.
- There are 326 million people in the US (source)
- 88.5% of the US population uses the Internet (source)
- 2.3% of the US population have visual impairment (source)
- 54% of those that are disabled go online. (source, source)
- 89.2% of people that use screen readers are disabled (source)
So 88.5% of 326 million people = 288.5 million Internet users.
And 2.3% of 326 million = 7.5 million. 54% online = 4 million people potentially using screen readers because they cannot see but are online. Add an additional 10.8% that are using screen readers that are not disabled will give you the following statistics...
4.4 million users using screen readers in the USA.
1.38% of internet users are using screen readers in the USA
Now to address screen readers and accessibility for the majority of people coming across this answer...
Screen readers are important. The most used is JAWS and you can download a copy here: JAWS Download.
Thinking only about screen readers when developing is like thinking
only about forks for a restaurant; sure, it's better than nothing, but
patrons will think you're incompetent if you serve them a steak or
soup. You can easily do better.
Screen readers just scratch the surface of what is happening out there in the real world as far as user experience for the disabled goes.
As far as selling the extra costs of accessibility; there isn't really a lot of extra costs. The barrier is just being familiar as a developer with two things: 1) How do you do it, and 2) What goes on with human experience when you're not looking.
Almost no effort is required to maintain accessibility once you
understand it. In fact, once you get a taste of the benefits that come with making a site accessible, you may do it for free.
I'll attempt to solve both barriers for developers in this post.
Statistics on people that benefit
- 2.3% of Americans are visually impaired and do/would benefit from a screen reader (source).
- An additional 4.3% of Americans are color-blind (8% of males and
0.5% females) and would benefit from A11Y compliance (source)
- 7% of people that responded to screen reader surveys reported they are not impaired and so do not show up on any statistics; these people use them for temporary issues (Source)
- Over 60% of people wear glasses or contacts and can experience glare and other issues when in extra dark or extra light environments that would benefit from A11Y compliance. (Source)
- Most developers forget that nearly all users will adjust their resolution or font size due to "temporary" impairment on many occasions in their lives (waking up, going to bed, after a hang-over, during a migraine, when it's really sunny out. All browsers have had hot-keys for font-size up/down since their creation).
7% of all people that use screen readers are not permanently impaired (Source)
- I have 20/15 vision (Snellen chart details) and even I adjust my font size up and down many times a year.
Statistics on costs of not caring
- Legal trends show that it is not if you will be sued, but when. ADA Title III requires all public places be accessible (Source)
- Thousands of federal lawsuits have been filed by disabled people that felt they were unable to access material online. This does not include state or municipal lawsuits which are obviously higher. However, federal lawsuits set precedence, as lawyers can easily find and quote the rulings. (Source)
Note: The 2017 numbers were gathered -mid year-
- Judges are ruling that even the stance of "We're working on it now" does not protect you from a lawsuit, for example with Five Guys in New York (Source).
- Judges have ruled incredibly harshly against non-compliance and against small businesses. For example, the whisper lounge in California was ordered to pay $4,000 for a single visit to their website because it did not support a screen reader (Source)
Basically, if your site isn't accessible, all it takes to get sued for more than the cost of the entire development process is a single upset disabled person, and the chances of a disabled person suing is more than doubling every year.
The courts are overwhelmingly siding that the Internet is a public
place and is therefore covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Trump administration DOJ has placed website laws on the inactive list, meaning no new legislation is going to come out anytime soon. Judges will continue to rule, and base their rulings on previous rulings, setting an overwhelming precedence as they have been doing for the last few years. This is basically a guarantee that lawsuits will continue to flow as congress shall make no new laws. (Source)
How do I get compliant?
It's actually easy. You read one article, stay up to date on one website, and use one tool.
The ARIA labels and relationships article by Google's website
fundamentals team is all you need to understand how to talk to
screen readers. The entire accessibility guide (that this article
is a part of) will make you an expert, but the ARIA labels is all
you really need to know.
The Tota11y tool by Khan Academy is all you need to not only
see how your site looks to screen readers, it shows you contrast and
other A11Y compliance issues that will make absolutely everyone
happy. You can add it to your website with a single line of code for
The A11Y project website. Keeps you up to date on absolutely
everything related to happy disabled users.
You could do the above 3 items in a single afternoon, you could also get a raise because you did it.
We are judged in our humanity by how well we take care of our most
Now get out there and make the world a better place! :)