Background Image Alternative Text: Online application form

Project 7 An Investigation of Online Job Application Accessibility and Usability




The purpose of this one-year study is to evaluate the accessibility and usability of job-application websites of 30 Fortune 500 companies. This project will be conducted in collaboration with the American Foundation for the Blind.

Research Questions

  1. What is the current state of accessibility and usability of online job-application sites of national companies?
  2. What are the most common accessibility and usability issues on companies’ online job-application sites?
  3. What is the user experience for blind or low vision (B/LV) screen reader users when applying for jobs through companies’ online applications?

Study Summary

The use of online application sites is almost ubiquitous today, and inaccessible online applications are considered a major barrier to employment for people who are B/LV. The most recent research on the accessibility of these sites is nearly 10 years old, and technology has changed substantially since then, so additional research in this area is needed.

Our sample will consist of 30 companies from the Fortune 500 list across five industry sectors: (a) financial; (b) healthcare; (c) retail; (d) technology; and (e) hotels, restaurants, and leisure. Three experienced usability testers with different levels of technical expertise will each test all of the websites (for a total of 90 tests). An expert accessibility engineer will monitor data collection, capture real-time feedback from the testers, and record the length of time taken to complete each application. The accessibility engineer will create a "report card" for each site (to be shared with the respective company) that summarizes the type and severity of issues found and highlights specific feedback from the usability testers.

Expected Outcomes and Benefits

This project will provide current information about the accessibility and usability of online job-application sites of 30 large, national companies, making it the biggest study of its kind ever conducted. It will promote employment for screen-reader users who are B/LV by providing companies whose job-application sites are problematic with specific feedback and advice to make them more accessible.

Project Outputs

McDonnall, M. C. (2024, Spring). Online job applications still need improvements. AccessWorld.