Research from NEC Digital has compared private hospital websites and NHS hospital websites and found that the former performs significantly worse for accessibility errors.

Over 530 websites were analysed, using the WAVE API, with each website studied for the number of errors, contrast errors and alerts.

They were than ranked from highest to lowest for each metric and given an overall ‘accessibility’ score. The average score for a private hospital website was just 3.2, while the NHS scored 5.9 on average.

The NHS websites that were analysed had an average of 5.6 accessibility errors and 5.4 contrast errors. In comparison, private hospital websites contained 20.4 accessibility errors and 22.9 contrast errors, on average.

On a single private hospital webpage the most errors encountered was 52 – for a single NHS page it was 42. Overall, private hospital websites contained 3.6 times as many errors as the NHS websites, and more than four times as many contrast errors.

Almost nine million people in the UK have accessibility needs, with around three million people being colourblind. This can make accessing digital services much harder, unless websites are designed with accessibility in mind.

The 2018 WCAG regulations require public sector bodies to ensure their website is accessible. However, NEC Digital’s Digital Divide: The impact of public sector web accessibility on users with visual impairments report, found many still have barriers to accessibility. In particular, it noted that individuals who rely on screen readers were often unable to access information easily.

Back in May this year we revealed that another study into UK GP surgeries’ websites, by Nexer Digital, found similar accessibility issues. According to that research, 66% of websites had at least one fault based on WCAG standards. The average GP surgery website contained three errors on its homepage alone.