By Chris Winter
The Green Agenda is having a negative impact on the accessibility of websites. I am currently unable to quantify the size of this problem due to the incompleteness of the data that I have currently identified. My current anecdotal evidence is presented below.
Context. The WebAIM organisation published its WebAIM Million 2023 report on the accessibility of the top one million home pages on the web. It reported that 96.3% of home pages had Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2 accessibility failures. A heady 0.5% improvement since 2022 and a whole 1.5% improvement since the 97.8% failures detected in the first version of this annual report published in 2019. This is a poor result for the world of IT which is used to significant technology improvements such as: Moore’s Law ‘that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles about every two years’. It is especially poor considering the first version of the WCAG were published in 1999.
Green fonts on a white background are difficult to read. The most common WCAG failures identified in the WebAIM Million reports have consistently been low contrast errors. Low contrast errors such as pale green fonts on a white background (or a white font on a pale green background) are difficult to read. This colour combination is difficult for people with good eyesight to read but more problematic for the 1.7 million people in the UK registered with poor eyesight and a further 3 million UK people estimated to be colour blind (which is a physical impairment but it is not considered a disability by the DWP or the WHO):
Black on white is easy to read.
Green font is difficult, as you see here:
Anecdotally I have encountered many websites with multiple WCAG low contrast errors caused by a colour combination of pale green and white. These websites often belong to organisations that are in some way connected to the ‘green agenda’ such as green lobby organisations, providers of ‘green energy’, etc. The concern is not with the green topics but their choice of green to publish information. A lack of data makes it impossible to determine whether organisations are unaware (unconsciously bias) of the problem or if they are aware and consciously choosing to exclude disabled people through poor accessibility.
About the author
Chris Winter FIET FBCS CITP is an Ambassador for the Digital Poverty Alliance, an evangelist for digital accessibility and a former IBM Fellow, now retired.
About the Digital Poverty Alliance (DPA). The DPA defines Digital Poverty with five key determinants: the affordability of devices and connectivity, accessibility (for the disabled), skills, motivation and a lack of ongoing support. With the breadth of digital poverty being so broad. Its objective is to eradicate digital poverty in the UK by 2030.