"Percentage of screen readers users in USA" : Is there a place where I can find such statistics ?

A more global statistic that would still be good too.

I came across this page but I could not find the more "global" numbers I was looking for: http://webaim.org/projects/screenreadersurvey5/


Here I am not trying to discuss whether or not I should make my website screen reader friendly.

Please stick to answering to the title of the question. If you want to answer whether people should do their website for screen readers or not then create a new question on this forum.

  • 6
    Making a website 'screen reader friendly' means "building it properly using established web standards". Unless you plan on building the website badly and wrong in the first place I don't see how it would be an extra cost to make it work on screen readers.
    – JonW
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 12:13
  • 1
    @JonW You can find a great deal on surf-n-turf for $3.99 but how good can the surf and/or turf possibly be. Adrien is just proposing getting lobster from the ocean rather than a can at the dollar-store so the price needs to go up. Maybe the client doesn't know how to stay away from $3.99 surf-n-turf.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 14:54
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    What would add cost is to have screen readers included in the testing/QA process. Then addressing those issues that wouldn't show up in the usual tests. Commented May 15, 2014 at 17:40
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    Coding for screen readers isn't just about writing correct HTML, it's also about testing (as @KenMohnkern says), knowing the standards (WCAG 2.0, Section 508) and defining exactly how you'll meet them, knowing the WAI-ARIA properties and how to use them, and more. Some clients won't care about it, others will. It adds extra work in the definition stage, UX, dev and especially QA/test. I think MonkeyZues' idea of an hourly rate is a good one.
    – elemjay19
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 23:36
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    @JonW I'm no accessibility expert, but your assertion that properly supporting screen-readers takes no extra work and is simply a question of writing standards-compliant code seems wildly wrong to me. There are usability features that benefit normal people at the expense of people with screen-readers (e.g. form autofocus), layout features that are bad for screen-readers specifically (e.g. a feature-comparison table with features as columns; screen-readers will unhelpfully read it left-to-right), and extra things you can do purely to help screen-readers (e.g. setting ARIA properties).
    – Mark Amery
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 13:53

5 Answers 5


When building a website for a client, I'd like to be able to sell the extra cost of making the website screen reader friendly.

The problem is trying to sell it as an extra cost. A properly built web site is, by default, screen reader (and, as such, also search engine) friendly.

As for your actual question, the National Federation of the Blind has several different estimates:


(These estimates are for the number of blind people in general, but I think it's safe to assume that, in general, in the US most everyone uses the internet).

Note that it's hard to define 'blindness' in a specific sense, so these numbers will always be a little fuzzy (no pun intended).

But, again, note that focusing purely on screen readers is kind of missing the point of accessibility and machine-readability in general.

  • thanks this link! Other interesting websites mentioned by the NFB: disabilitystatistics.org , nei.nih.gov/eyedata/blind.asp , visionproblemsus.org , and factfinder2.census.gov
    – Adriano
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 23:44
  • nfb.org wrote 6,636,900 for 2011 (census population not indicated), nei.nih.gov wrote 1,288,275 for 2010 (census population not indicated), disabilitystatistics.org wrote 6,670,300 (2.2% of the census population) for 2012, visionproblemsus.org wrote 4,195,966 (2.9% of the census population). So that could give us a rough idea of the percentage of blind people browsing the internet with screen readers (circa 3% maybe?)
    – Adriano
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 23:49
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    As I mentioned in a comment on the question itself, the claim that competently-built websites are accessible by default is nonsense. Some features (e.g. autofocus) sacrifice accessibility for the blind to benefit the rest of us. Some layout features (e.g. tables that are meant to be read column-by-column instead of row-by-row) are awful for screenreaders but not wrong or bad in any objective sense if you don't specifically value accessibility. And some accessibility features, like ARIA, have zero value to the non-disabled and require development work to support - they don't come for free.
    – Mark Amery
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 17:32
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    The idea that mere development competence automatically gives you an accessible site, and that competent businesses will never face accessibility tradeoffs, is nice, politically correct, and oft-repeated... but simply not true. Everywhere I've worked, I've flagged up accessibility issues and the people above me have correctly observed that disability support would cost us development time for little reward, and that maximising profit and properly supporting blind people were conflicting objectives. Profit has always won. Propagating the fiction that these tradeoffs don't exist helps nobody.
    – Mark Amery
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 17:43
  • @MarkAmery I'd argue auto-focus is usually an annoyance more than a drawback. Regardless, if you implement auto-focus correctly, it can certainly be accessible. A table is actually very accessible if properly built. ARIA attributes are trivial and really add nothing more than proper code formatting or class naming standards would add.
    – DA01
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 19:06

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)

Lawsuits are on the rise

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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 testing.

  3. 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 vulnerable.

Now get out there and make the world a better place! :)

  • 1
    +1 great answer! Also kinda interesting how the word source is currently written as soruce when giving the stats on percentage of visually impaired people :-)
    – Eric Mutta
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 23:53

I would say another way to word your request is potentially "Number of active (legally) blind computer users globally" Or maybe you can combine stats yourself, global computer users + global counts of the visually impaired. That being said, you should always code to make your site accessible by the greatest number of users, unless you can somehow guarantee your site will never be viewed by the visually impaired? It's a best practice.

  • The first part of your answer ("Number of active (legally) blind computer users globally" Or maybe you can combine stats yourself, global computer users + global counts of the visually impaired.) is a good idea to find out what I want but I cannot find those stats either.
    – Adriano
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 18:12

In my personal experience, I've found more revenue is earned the more you meet the needs of the client. Consider replacing "I'd like to be able to sell the extra cost of..." with "How can I better meet the needs of the client?"

For example, say a client wants you to rewrite and reskin a website because it doesn't drive revenue for their business. You could do just what they ask, and in another year they could find someone else to rewrite the same website again for the same reason.

Or, you could help them get to the root of the issue. Maybe many users come from mobile devices and the website looks bad for them. If you rewrote the site without using response design you may have not fixed their issue. Maybe their host is extraordinarily slow for the location of their users. If you used the same host it would again be the same issue.

If you can help the client be successful the revenue will follow. They'll remember you were the one that helped fix the issue, you were the one that helped drive revenue, and you'll be the one they want to use again in the future.

  • 1
    Your answer is not answering my question (see the title), you may have a point but this answering another question (maybe you should create it)
    – Adriano
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 18:09
  • @AdrienBe unlike StackOverflow, where there are often very specific questions with very specific answers, topics such as UX tend to be much broader and, as such, will often produce answers that don't necessarily address the minute specifics of the original question--yet can still be very valid answers. (Also, a big part of UX is trying to determine what question should be asked--as often clients are asking the wrong question. :) )
    – DA01
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 18:39
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    @DA01: interesting, I did not know tat ux.stackexchange had different rules. Note that I only added that comment about selling this to a client to make a point in how important finding out the result could be but realized it diverted people from the answering what I looked for: numbers.
    – Adriano
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 23:14
  • @DA01: I do however completely agree with you with the fact that we should try make website screen reader friendly from the beginning, by trying I mean what most do: develop screen reader friendly without testing. This could be changed by providing numbers: develop screen reader friendly & get it tested by blind people. How many unexpected behaviors are we not aware of? this might be an interesting question to ask a group of blind people. For instance a small syntax error seem to completely disable the screen reader interpretation: stackoverflow.com/q/21586478/759452.
    – Adriano
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 23:22

The National Federation of the Blind can help answer questions about statistics and need, and provide you with links to resources, including standards. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes screen reader compliance pretty much compulsory. It should not be seen as an "if we can afford it" option.

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