A Story About Digitalization and Those Left Out : A quantitative study exploring the effect of digitalization on web accessibility.
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- Master Thesis 
This thesis examines the influence of digitalization on web accessibility for people with disabilities (PwD). The central research question addressed is: "How does digitalization affect web accessibility for people with disabilities?" The hypothesis proposed in this study is that web accessibility decreases as digitalization advances, irrespective of legislation and awareness regarding the accessibility gap. The hypothesis is grounded in the observation that visual aspects are prioritized during web development, potentially overlooking the importance of web accessibility. This is an important topic of research since nearly 20% of the world's population (World Health Organization 2023), have a disability and almost everyone will experience disability at some point in their life (World Health Organization n.d.). Utilizing quantitative methods to conduct an empirical test this research evaluated the web accessibility of 49 Canadian Universities over a 15-year time period, from 2008 to 2022. Data collection utilized online sources such as the Wayback Machine. The research findings reveal that during periods of web advancements, there is an initial increase in web accessibility issues, validating the negative impact of digitalization on web accessibility. However, over time, there is a noticeable reduction in these issues, indicating an overall improvement in web accessibility. One significant factor negatively impacting web accessibility identified in this study is, the visual advancements brought about by digitalization. The effectiveness of legislation in enhancing web accessibility was investigated, focusing on compliance deadlines. The study demonstrates that compliance deadlines do not lead to increased accessibility on the web, meaning legislation fails to effectively improve web accessibility. Overall, this research highlights the immediate inaccessibility of the web resulting from digitalization. These findings emphasize the ongoing need to prioritize web accessibility amidst digital advancements. From these findings, stakeholders can work towards a more inclusive and accessible web environment for PwD.