On this page


One of the number one questions the Vision Australia Digital Access team receives is what screen readers, assistive technology, and accessibility settings need to be supported by websites and apps. We also often get asked which browsers and devices to support.

We conducted this survey of Vision Australia clients, and the wider blind and low vision community in Australia to help answer these questions. There were 1760 responses received. This included partially completed surveys, 11 respondents not based in Australia and 281 respondents that did not identify as being blind or having low vision. These were all screened out of the survey. Having excluded the latter, the total sample size was 1145 people.

We are making the report and findings publicly available to be used as a reference and provide insight for anybody designing and building websites and apps. Some of the findings were quite interesting, for example, many native apps don't support Dark Mode but the survey found it is one of the most popular accessibility settings used by the blind and low vision community.

This is the first time we have run this type of survey, and there are areas we have identified for improvement in future iterations. We plan to run the survey annually. Let us know if you have found this information valuable. Read on below for the great insights uncovered from the survey!

Josh Crawford
National Manager Digital Access


  • Michelle Weaver
  • Liz Duus
  • Josh Crawford
  • Ben Gilmore
  • Dennii Barrie
  • Hee-Won Ham
  • Anne O’Brien
  • Emily Lonergan

Key themes

Respondents referenced funding and cost prohibitors to accessing technology as one of the most common barriers to accessing assistive technology. 20 comments discussed expense as a barrier to accessing accessible technology. also reported their experiences of using websites, and apps as generally being “frustrating,” “annoying” and “difficult”.

“The technology is usually quite expensive and NDIS don't usually approve the purchase”.
(Blind, 50 – 59 years, NSW)

"Often times, too expensive over the top, and is not multifunctional, only has one or two features.
(Blind, 30 – 39, Vic)

“My experience is that you mention low vision and everything is way too expensive, so we muddle on the best we can” (Low Vision, 70 – 79 years, Qld)

Often the older adults considered their advanced age and perceived lack of technical competency as the cause of the challenges they face with technology, not the fact that a lot of technology is designed with sighted and generally younger-aged users in mind.

"[People who are blind or have low vision] "who are of an older age group and did not grow up or go through education when computers and mobile devices were invented find it extremely challenging to learn how to use the devices themselves and then as an extra challenge the need to learn how to use the adaptive technology and software etc”.
(Blind, 60 – 69, Vic)

“I feel that my personal experience with assistive technology to be by and large very positive. However, as someone involved with peer support, I quite often observe the gulf that can exist between those who have grown up with and therefore likely comfortable with assistive technology, and those who have acquired their vision loss in middle or later years. Sadly, this situation is not helped by the disparity between funding and opportunity available under the NDIS and that which is provided to persons aged 65 and above under My Aged Care.”
(Blind, 60 – 69, Qld)

“Not being a very young and well-educated person relating to technology I find it extremely stressful trying to learn, remember and then use some of the technology which is sold today...it seems to me that adaptive technology is always trying to catch up with the latest in technology so it appears there are limits and things it will not do but which people who are not blind can do on the devices without adaptive technology. There are many people who would be clients of Vision Australia who may handle websites, apps and all kinds of other technical interaction with computers or mobile devices with ease however respondents who are of an older age group and did not grow up or go through education when computers and mobile devices were invented find it extremely challenging to learn how to use the devices themselves and then as an extra challenge the need to learn how to use the adaptive technology and software etc.”
(Blind, 60 – 69 years, Vic)

Lack of awareness of what technology is available was a common experience, many respondents were surprised by how much assistive technology, software and assistive devices existed and said they had not even heard of many of the things in the survey.

“I would use more if I was more aware of what was available to assist me” (Low Vision, 60 – 69, NSW). “I have had not enough exposure to technology that could help me.”
(Low Vision, 80 – 89 years, NSW)

“I found I can generally use the voice assistant but I know that there are many apps that would make my life much easier. I just need to know which and where to find them”
(Low Vision, 80 – 89 years, NSW)

“There are so many options I'm never sure what to use and how to use it effectively”
(Low Vision, 50 – 59, Vic)

“From talking to others, and my initial experience, you have no idea what is available for free through ease of access functions on phones and PC. People are offered things such as magnifiers and special, expensive aids when the in device apps work just fine.”
(Low Vision, 70 – 79, Vic)

“Probably need more one to one training by an actual person”
(Low Vision, 80 – 89, Vic)

Training is an important step in feeling comfortable with technology, but it doesn’t always achieve deep knowledge which causes ongoing challenges. A number of respondents discussed how the initial stage of learning the assistive technology was difficult, some asked for more training opportunities, and others noted the time costs of learning about modern devices as well as the assistive technology. This knowledge can be disrupted by updates/or changing devices, and it feels like they have to start again.

“Once you understand how to use it, and get used to using it, it is great. The problem is learning how in the first place and then remembering everything! Then there’s also what happens when there is a glitch or something goes wrong and I don’t know how to fix it so it just goes in the too hard basket.”
(Low Vision 40 – 49 years, NSW).

“My computer has been adjusted by a computer Guru so that I can see my emails in a larger font. Unfortunately, I'm lost when it comes to the workings of modern technology...Technological things scare me a bit, until I become a bit more confident and used to how they work. I'm sure many old/er people have the same problem - but I'm left feeling impatient and wanting to (slowly) learn more. Sorry - it's all a bit too depressing for me to talk about.....”
(Low Vision, 70 – 79, NSW)

“In my case, I would really appreciate some instruction. I used to keep up with technology advances, but as my eyesight has deteriorated (sic) I am getting further and further behind.”
(Low Vision, 80 – 89, Vic)

“I feel completely unaided in the selection, set up, use of and configuration of each of the pieces of equipment available. On the equipment itself often the font size is so tiny the only way I can see it is with my magnifying glasses with my magnifiers clipped to them and with my floor lamp magnifier used as well. I worked in the computer industry for 10 years and then in corporate (companies) where all my work was on large specialised software programmes so I eventually find a way round all the barriers but it takes years not months.”
(Low Vision, 70 – 79, Vic)

“Apps need to be sensitive to the text size set in phone settings. Websites e.g. especially ones that enable indepdnece (sic) such as banks and ATO etc need to make sure assistive software work. My bank (Auswide bank) recently updated and its not accessible with fusion. There needs to be easier access to traiing(sic) for those outside the workforce for training of assistive technology. It takes a really long time to learn. And then when systems change, its like starting all over again.”
(Low Vision, 40 – 49, Qld)

Issues are often encountered when upgrades are required, some respondents said they found it impossible to access digital information channels without using a combination of product types and brands. This in turn leads to integration issues when updates occur.

“Keeping up with constant upgrades is challenging”
(Blind Client, 70-79 years old, Victoria)

“I have found the changes in Jaws not always helpful e.g. their "sharkie" voice-assistant feature clashes with my web-cam microphone and their access to word documents and pdfs in the latest versions of adobe and office 2019 don't work as well as the earlier versions.”
(Blind, 60 – 69, Vic)

“The more advanced computers, phones and tablets get the more I feel frightened of not being able to do much of anything on my own and I am very lucky to employ a support worker who is able to think logically and understands my needs and try's very hard to find ways so that I can access things like websites or apps but there are many challenges I face as things get more advised and I feel I am being left behind further and further and feel sad that I am not able to do things for myself because the software etc.”
(Blind, 60 – 69, Vic)

“Integration between devices and between platforms is still very complex. I would really love some AT that is universal.”
(Low Vision, 60 – 69 years, VIC)

Some respondents discussed their frustration and difficulty with the user experience of using websites and apps. Respondents expressed frustration with the lack of usability of websites despite being accessible by a screen reader, poor design of websites means the experience is often confusing, and without sight or limited sight, users struggle to know whether they’re missing info, or how to figure out navigation through trouble shooting. The lack of user advocacy and inclusion in the design process is problematic. A Digital Exclusion of BLV Users.

“At times I find it extremely frustrating using the laptop and apps with speech programs”
(Blind, 60 – 69 years, Qld)

“It's overcomplicated. It should be simplified. I am totally blind and I find websites incredibly challenging to navigate. Screen Narrators are often overcomplicated in the information that is given to me. I get confused when it talks about links and have difficulties getting to different sections of the webpage. Information is usually left out or I am given so much that is completely irrelevant.”
(Blind, 70-79 years, SA)

“So many websites and apps are technically usable, but could be much easier to navigate. Too much information is presented as images. Too many apps fail to be accessible with voiceover on iOS More websites need to include alt text and image descriptions”
(Blind, 20 – 29 years, Vic)

“The most difficult part is raising issues or features to be added. EG. ABC has spent plenty of money on audio description, however none of the AD programs are available on iView streaming services.”
(Blind, 30 – 39 years, Vic)

“Ads are a nuisance and sometimes preclude to see the contents. Some sites are very difficult to get to due to the quantity of information on their main web-page with small "print" that do not allow to increase the font”
(Low Vision, 70 – 79 years, NSW)

“There is a long way to go before we have universal design in accessibility. As a blind person I should not have to do lots of work-arounds to access the web or other apps because I want to get on with life just as much as the next person.”
(Blind, 40 – 49 years, NSW)

"The vast majority of web sites do not comply with recommendations for use by blind/sight–impaired people (e.g layout, colors, key-stroke access). When I question the organizations they tell me that it is too expensive to retro-fit the necessary changes. I think we need a better approval system for, particularly business, web sites. That way things would slowly improve over time. At present the sites are designed for sighted users…we are too small an economic group to get attention.
(Blind, 70 – 79 years, Vic)

“It’s frustrating that transport apps such as Uber and taxi, NSW tripview etc cannot be magnified - I’m legally blind do not drive so depend on these apps. Inconsistent screen layouts frustrates when in zoom mode - dense and coloured screen designs which hinder ease of “reading”.
(Low Vision Client, 60-69 years, NSW)

“It is very frustrating when websites and apps aren't accessible. It would be good to know before purchase of an app if it was accessible with screen readers or braille devices.”
(Blind, 10-19 years, NSW)

Despite the challenges respondents describe many benefits of having access to the internet and the digital world, the most common being the ability to independently undertake daily tasks like internet banking, sourcing health information, communicating and socialising. Some respondents described their quality of life as being dependent on their assistive technology.

“Without assistive technology I would be lost. And it helps to bring back as much normality to my life."
(Blind, 5- 59 years, Qld)

“Very helpful, it improves my quality of life”
(Blind, 60 – 69, Qld)

"It allows me to communicate, learn and be entertained. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to be part of society"
(Blind, 20 – 29 years, NSW)

“Seeing AI has provided me with the ability to read documents, seedling packages, and food packages that I had to rely on other people for previously.”
(Blind, 70 – 79 years, SA)

“I use my assistive technology to communicate with friends, do school work. Write letters, read ebooks from local library”
(Low Vision, 10 – 19 years, Vic)

“For the most part, it is lovely having up to date technology. it does open up the world. and, without such things as voice over, screen readers or serie (sic); it would be impossible to use the i-phone computers or any other of the things that need these things for people like us to have access to”.
(Blind, 50 – 59 years, ACT)

“I'm really grateful for assistive technology as without them I wouldn't be able to work or live with the level of independence I currently enjoy.”
(Blind, 50 – 59 years, SA)

“It allows me to communicate, learn and be entertained. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to be part of society.”
(Blind, 20 – 29, NSW)

Opportunities for improvement was a prevailing theme with a focus on website and app compatibility with screen readers and magnifiers and the desire for minimum standards of accessibility.

“It would great if app designers enabled increase in font size within the app”
(Low Vision, 50 – 59, Qld)

“Although a lot of government website are deemed accessible because they work with a screen reader, a lot of the time they are not efficient to use. A lot of them could use better implementation of heading labels and webpage landmarks”.
(Blind 20 – 29, NSW)

“Most software or adaptive apps run on top of the underlying system (windows/android etc) that slows down the functionality you are trying to use. This is very frustrating and in some cases slows thigns(sic) down to a crawl. It would be great if the underlying system providers (such as windows) could integrate more into their software so tha it funs more smoothly and chews up fewer resources. In understand the difficulties (such as windows having to buy zoomtext) but, heh, its all about the user! I live in hope, but not holding my breath…”
(Blind 40 – 49 years, SA)

“Reading tabs, within an app. As most are either small or wrong colour. Siri cannot assist with much, in general once in an app it is difficult.”
(Low Vision, 80 – 89 years, Tas)

“My Explore Magnifier enables me to read any text on desk computer, but it is tiresome to hold it all the time in my left hand to continue reading. I suggest a V.A. stand that efficiently replaces that hand!”
(Low Vision, 90 – 99 years, Vic)

“Its more some apps don't work with voice over like Instagram and some websites if using iphones voice over.”
(Low Vision, 40 – 49 years, Qld)

“Yes, there are a lot of programs out there that need custom Jaws scripts to operate them, this is hard”
(Blind, Age 100 – 110 years, Tas)

“Dark theme technology is what I use for high contrast/smart invert but most of these conflict and a OS dark theme doesn't necessarily work with browser well and even conflicts with it, so you might have Dark Theme activated on MacOS but need to activate and deacticate (sic) different Chrome extensions just to flip between email and working applications like docs or sheets.”
(Low Vision, 40 – 49 years, NSW)

“I wish they would have a Standard for the point of purchase machines, ie: red buttons for No, delete, and green for yes,”
(Low Vision, 60 – 69 years, QLD)

“More assistive technology should be built inot(sic) devices and be part of websites. I would love to see a 'remove everything but the text' button on all websites. This survey is typical in that , for the most part, there is no clear indication that a clock to choose an option has been recorded.”
(Low Vision, 60 – 69 years, Qld)

Next section


About the survey respondents