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Canadian industries lag behind on website Accessibility

Jun 18, 2019 - By Jennifer Doyle

The Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81) has been passed in the House of Commons — and it’s expected to become law this summer. Yet many companies are far behind on digital accessibility.

TORONTO, June 18, 2019 — With the Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81) expected to become law this summer, and with websites in Ontario being required to meet strict accessibility criteria by 2021, the call for accessibility is gaining momentum. However, a newly launched Accessibility World Map website shows that Canada still has a long way to go. In terms of digital accessibility, Canada trails a number of developed nations, including the U.S., the United Kingdom, and Australia. 

Calculated using the Siteimprove Digital Certainty Index™(DCI) Accessibility Score*, the scores on the Accessibility World Map are rated out of 100, with 100 being the most digitally accessible, and 0 being the least digitally accessible.

Here are the key Canadian findings:

  • Canada scores 63 out of 100. Globally, the U.S. has the highest score with 65, and United Arab Emirates has the lowest score with 58. See below for the full list of country scores.
  • Of the Canadian industries ranked, Education is the highest with a score of 66. Surprisingly, Retail ranks the lowest with a score of 59, meaning that Canadian retailers are missing out on a large percentage of potential customers.
  • Other Canadian industries are ranked as follows (from most inclusive to least inclusive): Government - 65; Healthcare - 64; Financial Services - 63; Manufacturing - 61; Tourism and Hospitality - 60

“Accessibility is no small issue — approximately 1 in 5 Canadians have a disability,” says Mike Cart, Managing Director, Siteimprove Canada. “Creating a Canada where everyone can participate fully without barriers is long overdue — and not just in the physical sense. We’re just starting to see companies and industries wake up to the fact that all Canadians deserve equal access to websites and digital platforms.”

While it may come as little surprise that Education and Government are the most accessible sectors in Canada, it’s unfortunate to see Retail at the bottom of the list. However, for those in the accessibility industry, the results are hardly shocking.

“We’ve been working with clients from all of these sectors over the last couple of years,” explains Cart. “And to be frank, we aren’t surprised to see retail rank the lowest, as the industry has a lot to do to catch up to some of its more digitally inclusive counterparts. Making e-commerce sites more inclusive is beneficial for many reasons, including reaching a potential 22 per cent of the customer base that’s being missed out on.”

Based on Siteimprove’s Must-Have Accessibility Handbook, organizations can begin making their websites more accessible by using consistent design across their site, choosing color wisely (high contrast can help visually impaired users), ensuring users can navigate the site without the use of a mouse (using only the keyboard), including proper page headings to help situate users, and providing the option for text to be read aloud.

About Accessibility World Map

As one of the leading voices in the push for digital accessibility, Siteimprove — a global software company that offers comprehensive Digital Presence Optimization (DPO) — launched the Accessibility World Map on May 14, 2019. The map allows for accessibility comparison across twenty-eight countries and between the following industries: Education, Financial Services, Government, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Retail, and Tourism and Hospitality industries. The initiative is a world-first in benchmarking digital inclusion globally.

*The Siteimprove Digital Certainty Index™(DCI) Accessibility Score is a measure of how well a website tests against web accessibility standards that have been set out in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1). A website’s Accessibility Score is determined by the number of success criteria a site fulfills under the three WCAG conformance levels (A, AA, AAA).

Country scores: Australia - 64; Austria - 62, Canada - 63; Denmark - 64; Estonia - 63; Finland - 62; France - 60; German - 62; Iceland - 63; Italy - 62; Japan - 64; Netherlands - 64; Norway - 64; Spain - 63; Sweden - 64; Switzerland - 64; United Kingdom - 64; United States - 65; United Arab Emirates - 58; Belgium - 62; New Zealand - 62; Portugal - 63; Brazil - 62; Chile - 60; India - 61; Mexico - 62; Russia - 61; South Africa - 59

About Siteimprove:

Siteimprove offers the world's most comprehensive cloud-based Digital Presence Optimization (DPO) software. The Siteimprove Intelligence Platform provides eye-opening insights that empower you and your team to create higher quality content, drive better traffic, measure digital performance, and work towards regulatory compliance — all from one place. Siteimprove is also proud to offer best-in-class technical support, academy courses, services, and technology integrations. Find out why more than 7,000 organizations around the world practice DPO using the Siteimprove Intelligence Platform at