Following up their successful screen reader user surveys, here's one targetting low-vision users (some of whom also use screen readers). Unlike the screen reader surveys with around 1000 respondents, this survey ended up with just 216 valid responses. Hopefully the next low-vision survey will have more! If you know someone who regularly uses the web and has low vision, ask them if they'd be interested in the next low-vision survey, whenever WebAIM does it.
While a majority of respondents were nearing middle-age or older, they reported their vision impairment isn't a result of age, but something else. A little over half wear some kind of vision correction such as glasses. A majority were regular and experienced internetters. Many used a combination of AT such as a screen reader with a magnifier, as well as the built-in browser controls for things like text enlargement or contrast settings. Unsurprisingly, a large majority of users found default web text too small, and found good colour contrast to be *very* important.
- Younger people tended to use mobiles more. This likely reflects a general device trend though.
- Probably reflecting the general internetting population, Windows and IE were the most popular combination. What the survey mentions as interesting is that iOS is the second-most popular OS.
- iThings, Android and Nokia were the three most-used mobile platforms.
- Skip links were found to be of course more useful to keyboard users, and to beginners, but with the high prevalence of iOS users where both touch is the main input type and webkit's in-page-link bug is present (very recently fixed), I wonder if more people would otherwise be using skip links. I mean, you wouldn't use them with webkit browsers as they don't do anything for you but move visual focus down, and don't save you from having to tab your way down to where you want your focus to be. iOS also has some kind of web rotor thing for navigation, though I don't know how popular it is. Would be an interesting question to add to the next survey.
- Zoom Text (a combo screen reader and screen magnifier), JAWS and VoiceOver were the most popular "screen readers" (in quotes because of Zoom Text).
- A great deal of users used keyboard, but generally a mixed bag, as was whether text-enlarging widgets (like the a, A, A things) were useful. The majority of respondents stated they like these widgets and would like more. WebAIM cautions web authors (us developers) about this though.
Originally Posted by webAIM
Opinions of in-page text resizing widgets are very mixed. Respondents who always or often use a keyboard found these widgets much less useful than non-keyboard users. Interestingly, those who use browser text sizing options were twice as likely to find in-page text resizing widgets very useful than those who do not use these browser settings. Those with beginning internet proficiency were much more likely to find them useful than those with advanced internet proficiency.
(text bolded by me)
I wonder if this has something to do with sites usually using cookies with these widgets, meaning users' choices get remembered. Browsers may or may not remember enlargement settings such as CTRL++ on a per-domain basis, especially if you have various privacy settings on. For me, Firefox (with text-enlarge only) remembered domains, while right now with my current settings, Opera does not between sessions (only during sessions).
It may also be that if developers bothered adding text-enlarging widgets, which work different from the "zoom" offered by browsers, that they probably also bothered testing what these settings looked like, and made sure their page layouts didn't break. I still encounter layouts breaking or making long scroll bars with both zoom and text-enlarge, which I use on almost every site I visit.
The top 3 most problematic things (of 11) users found on websites?
1. Complex page layouts
2. Content that becomes unreadable when enlarged
3. Poor contrast