Despite the efforts of experts and campaigners, it is clear that many people find it hard to access websites and other digital technology, particularly older people and people with disabilities.
The Fix the Web project exists to help people report problems with digital accessibility to a team of volunteers who take up the cases people report with website owners and encourage them to fix accessibility problems. Fix the Web is based in the United Kingdom, but our aim is to become a globally significant force for creating an inclusive internet.
This video explains what the Fix the Web project does, and we have also produced an animated video introduction to digital accessibility.
"I believe many techies would be horrified to think that the web they love so much is excluding people. I firmly believe that this isn't a problem disabled people should have to deal with on their own. We expect to see ramps, extra wide doorways and adapted toilet facilities, but what about the equivalent online?" - Dr. Gail Bradbrook, Citizens Online
As the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative put it: "most Web sites and Web software have accessibility barriers". Reports have found that around 80% of sites fail to meet minimum requirements for accessibility. Only one-third of 761,000 EU public-sector and government websites are accessible, and a 2006 UN audit (pdf) found only 3 of 100 sites in a global sample met basic accessibility requirements.
This affects an enormous number of people. There are at least 11 million disabled people in the UK, 76 million across the EU and more than 550 million worldwid. There are many reasons why a person might be disabled, some permanent, some temporary, but these disabilities significantly affect the level of online task success and satisfaction experienced by disabled people.
The scale of the problem is huge and we believe there is a need for culture change amongst web developers and website owners. Learn more about the current state of digital accessibility in our review of various reports on web and software accessibility.
Our solution is to make it simple for the people facing accessibility problems to report them to us, and for our team of volunteers to encourage the site owners to get them fixed.
Fix the Web volunteers aim to emphasise the real problems disabled users face, and to support website owners to make their sites more accessible by signposting them to the great range of support that is available. Find out more about what web accessibility is, and how to make websites and web-based documentation more accessible, in our "training area", which contains links to articles, courses, videos and tools. Could you volunteer?
The power of volunteers
Fix the Web relies on an army of volunteer reporters and volunteers. It would not be possible without them.
You can't set up a company to deal with this problem single-handed: the power of volunteers is required! Apart from enabling the project to function on a large scale, the other advantages of our volunteer approach are:
- the personal touch: Website owners get real and personal feedback on their sites and how they are being used,
- skill-sharing: Volunteers enhance their own knowledge and skills,
- building links: disabled reporters can work closely with volunteers, reducing any sense of isolation, and providing for an exchange of knowledge and experiences.