R&D notes

Charitable accessibility

Jonathan Robert Pool

Which charities make themselves accessible on the web?

Introduction

Making one’s website accessible for all, including persons who face obstacles in browsing the web, is a charitable thing to do. It is also a responsible thing to do, since nonprofit organizations, like businesses, can be held liable for disability discrimination if they do not. Therefore, it would be reasonable to expect charities to make their websites accessible.

But that expectation would be wrong. In fact, accessibility problems abound in websites of charities.

Findings

I tested the home pages of 116 mainly USA-based charitable foundations. I selected the charities from those working to advance various causes, chiefly justice, inclusiveness, civil liberties, ecological recovery, waste reduction, population sustainability, nutrition, disaster resiliance, peace, public safety, secularism, evidence-based policy, and knowledge access. They include the charities to which GiveWell awards its top rating for efficacy.

I used an automated testing procedure (version 7 of a11y in Autotest). The procedure leverages over 400 tests in three widely used packages (Axe, Equal Access, and WAVE) and extends them with 16 custom tests of my own.

For the main page of each organization’s website, the procedure generated a score. A score of 0 would indicate that a page has passed all the tests. Any score greater than 0 indicates test failures.

I performed the tests in October and November 2021.

In the table below:

Accessibility scores of web pages
PageScore (lower is better)
National Center for Access to Justice321
Vegan Outreach348
Freedom of the Press Foundation382
The Sports Bra Project384
Disability Rights Advocates386
Internet Archive388
New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Education Fund407
Climate Emergency Fund412
Streetsblog NYC426
PanLex483
Riders Alliance523
Center for Responsive Politics539
Reproductive Health Access Project551
Center for Court Innovation557
Third Way Institute561
Direct Relief577
Global Greengrants Fund581
Earthjustice598
Hesperian Health Guides611
Population Connection623
Friends of the Earth630
Population Balance663
New York Public Library673
Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future694
Cultural Survival702
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy771
Rescuing Leftover Cuisine775
Siksha Foundation775
Environmental Defense Fund789
Partners in Health789
Dissent798
Socially Responsible Agricultural Project804
Carnegie Council828
Center for International Environmental Law858
Rainforest Foundation US860
Wikimedia Foundation864
Brennan Center for Justice895
Esperantic Studies Foundation898
Guttmacher Institute940
New Incentives957
Transportation Alternatives964
Evidence Action974
Global Footprint Network983
Tax Policy Center995
End Fund1002
Gentle World1011
Rehabilitation International1019
PAI1030
Center for Justice and Accountability1075
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists1098
Violence Policy Center1112
Government Accountability Project1156
International Rescue Committee1168
Earth Day1183
Against Malaria Foundation1193
Geohazards International1198
Long Now Foundation1205
American Atheists1225
Sierra Club1231
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence1300
City Harvest1301
Food & Water Watch1305
Benetech1307
National Coalition Against Censorship1307
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine1316
Freedom from Religion Foundation1352
Carbon1801357
Information Technology & Innovation Foundation1365
GiveWell1383
Union of Concerned Scientists1385
Coalition for the Homeless1387
SOIL1398
Ceres1401
Healthcare-NOW1403
Citizens for Global Solutions1447
American Civil Liberties Union Foundation1472
WaterAid1474
United Nations1530
International Justice Resource Center1532
SCI Foundation1535
CARE1581
Esperanto USA1591
As You Sow1602
Sightsavers1629
United Nations Population Fund1637
Water1st1647
Terralingua1690
Americans United for Separation of Church and State1694
NARAL Pro-Choice America1734
Room to Read1783
Rainforest Alliance1848
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting1969
Environmental Working Group1994
Environmental Integrity Project2044
PSI2072
WILPF2125
Humanity and Inclusion2149
Oxfam America2153
Natural Resources Defense Council2177
Climate Reality Project2321
Center for Constitutional Rights2332
American Humanist Association2366
Planned Parenthood2417
The Institute for War & Peace Reporting2496
Helen Keller International2718
Center for Reproductive Rights2930
Children’s Defense Fund3105
Malaria Consortium3250
Public Justice3330
Grist3594
350.org3779
Physicians for a National Health Program3799
Animal Welfare Institute4317
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights4457
Genocide Watch4938
Special Olympics10871

Conclusion

Many of these charities have missions that would make them sympathetic with accommodations for diversity and inclusion.

Web accessibility mainly aims to ensure that people with various disabilities can successfully use web resources. But the scores of disability-oriented charities were widely dispersed, suggesting they have not given special attention to the accessibility of their own websites.

A similar result was found for international human rights organizations, whose home pages received scores ranging from about 450 to more than 3500.

Measures of accessibility vary, there is no consensus on the best or the correct way to measure it, and these tests, like all tests, are fallible. That is why this procedure runs many tests from several sources. Being fully automated, this procedure can be replicated and double-checked. Being open-source, the details behind the scores that it generates can be inspected and challenged.

More importantly, these organizations can study the individual reports about their web pages, in order to discover and dismantle website barriers, thereby making themselves more inclusive.