Summary from WebAIM screen reader survey from 2017

The 2017 edition is out now

This is the 7th edition of the survey that started in 2009.

1792 people participated this year

The most surveyed region was North America with 60% participants followed by 23% participants from Europe/UK and 8.5% participants from Asia.

Primary screen reader

46.6% of participants use JAWS as their main screen reader

Followed somewhat closely by NVDA with a 31.9% of participants and VoiceOver with 11.7%.

However, this is only the main screen reader surveyed users use. In my opinion, the next stats help grasping the big picture better.

So... which screen readers do they commonly use?

66% of participants use JAWS commonly

64.9% of participants use NVDA commonly

Here we can see the clear tie there is between these two in terms of usage.

39.6% of the participants use VoiceOver commonly

This seems to point to the fact that VoiceOver is used a lot as a secondary screen reader.

It's also relevant to mention that 68% of the respondents use more than one screen reader.


When it comes to screen readers though, it's not only a matter of the tool you choose. It is also important under what operating system it is running and what web browser it's being used with. Next, we can see which are the most commonly found combinations.

41% of users use Firefox together with their most common screen reader

The other top contestants in this category were:

  1. Internet Explorer 11 with a 23.3%
  2. Chrome with a 15.5%
  3. and Safari (10.5%)

So now that we know what tools are being used, let's see what are the preferred ways to navigate and discover the content of a website.

Finding Information

How screen reader users approach and navigate lengthy websites is a topic that I was especially interested in.

Given the nature of web accessibility, where different screen readers convey the same structures in slightly different ways, sometimes it is more important to craft an experience that provides extra context.

Sometimes, that can turn out to be as important as having all the items checked in the accessibility auditing tool of choice.

But don't forget those either :)

67.5% of participants navigate through the headings of the page

It is clearly the preferred option when it comes to moving through the content.

"Using the find function" follows with a discrete 14.4%. Users who prefer going through links take a 6.8% of the total and navigating through landmark/regions has a 3.9%. The rest prefer to read through the page accounting to a quite small 7.3%.

That would tell us to test taking the approach of going through headers when manually testing the usability and accessibility of a site. Try to adapt the site to achieve an understandable experience through proper markup if explored in this way.

Another topic that I recently looked into is having a skip link to the main content of the page. The question of the survey was about how often respondents use a "skip to main content" or "skip navigation" link when it is available on a page.

There's no choice that got a strong representation here. If we order the options by most usage to least we get two top ones: "always use them when available" with a 15.8% and "often use them" with 16.4%. These two account to a third of the total which is notable. There's almost another third taken by the middle option, "sometimes", which is also the most common option with a 27.8%.

The two options that lay at the bottom of the results are "seldom" and "never use them" with 21.6% and 18.4% respectively.

There is more than this

If you still want to know more about how to build your markup or app to be accessible and usable, I totally recommend you to check the original survey from WebAIM.

It contains many more facts and further detail. I honestly believe it to be a very valuable source of information when trying to grow your understanding of how to implement web accessibility in a way that actually helps people :).

Please ping me on Twitter if you have any comments or just liked this!

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