Web Accessibility in Higher Education: Update of the Pope Tech 4k Project

Presented at 2:15pm in Colorado I-J on Thursday, November 9, 2023.



  • Mark Pope, Web Accessibility Specialist, Pope Tech

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Beginner
  • Type of session: General Conference


Since 2019, Pope Tech has been testing the top-level websites of all US universities and colleges (over 4,000 higher education institutions) for web accessibility using our automated scanner. The primary purpose of the 4k Project is to document the progress of web accessibility in higher education. This presentation will review interesting findings, including the most common errors found.


In this presentation, we will report on the findings of our ongoing, longitudinal study on the web accessibility of American academic institutions. Although previous projects have focused on perhaps one or a few schools, this is the only comprehensive study we are aware of to explore all degree-granting colleges and universities (public and private) in the United States and to do so over time (since 2019).

Using open source and government lists, all United States universities and colleges were identified (the final list contained over 4,000 institutions of higher education). The top-level domain for each academic institution was identified. To create a robust sample of pages, each website was crawled by Pope Tech.

In the 2023 update, we identified 20 pages linked from each institution's top-level website's homepage. The identified web pages were analyzed in the Pope Tech scanning platform using WebAIM’s WAVE Engine to detect automatically detectable accessibility issues.

In our presentation, we will cover trends in web accessibility in higher education, present interesting findings, as well provide comparisons by institutional demographics (including public vs private, enrollment levels, and geography).

It is important to keep in mind we are only reporting on accessibility issues that can be detected through automated testing.


  1. Scanned all (over 4,000) US Higher Ed Institutions top-level website for detectable accessibility issues.
  2. We discuss common errors across higher education websites, trends, and changes over time.
  3. It is important to keep in mind these are only automatically detectable issue.

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Administrative/Campus Policy, Research, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Mark Pope

Mark Pope is a web accessibility specialist. His mission is to help organizations improve web accessibility. Before working at Pope Tech, Mark was a lecturer and researcher in higher education.