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With the impact of COVID-19 making the majority of people work remotely and shifting everyday tasks online, this got Recite Me Sales Manager Martin Robertson thinking. What does "Accessibility" really mean to him and how this word now has so many different connotations. Martin shares with us his thoughts on accessibility and his journey through the changing world of online inclusion. I recently read this piece (from 2017 but very much still relevant) https://incl.ca/accessibility-people-not-standards/ on accessibility being about people and not about standards. It got me thinking about my own experiences during the time I've been at Recite Me and what accessibility means, primarily as it could be so many different things, whether that's the design of a building, a town, a city, a bus, a train or a car (you get the idea, I won't go on!), or, as is more common for me, a website or other platform accessed via a browser. Often my day includes at least 1 conversation where I’m explaining the basics of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG, which you can read more about at https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/) and how that differs from the Recite Me offering (which is more about inclusion, but I’ll get to that). Typically, my conversations are with those who don’t have any technical experience when it comes to the build of their sites or the platforms they use; think of the Diversity and Inclusion, Talent, HR, Marketing or Communications lead who has a responsibility and a desire for accessibility and inclusion, but doesn’t have the direct responsibility for the website/platform/application. Something that I’ve said a few times in presentations and webinars with audiences in these roles is that they should be asking their teams and/or vendors if the site/product/platform is built to WCAG AA. If the answer is yes, then great, be inquisitive about the level achieved and talk about what can be further improved. If the answer is no, they should challenge why not (hint, there’s no reason not to, not a good one anyway) and make sure it’s included in the scope from that point onwards. And if (as has happened) the answer is ‘what’s that’, then find a new vendor or invest in training for the team and people responsible. It is vital for users of assistive technology such as screenreaders that you are striving to achieve these standards. Buyer Beware: There are companies and products out there that will claim to make your site ‘accessible in minutes’, or ‘compliant using just a couple of lines of code’. They won’t and they can’t, because they can’t change the build, and neither can Recite Me, that’s your job. WCAG experts often, and rightly call out these claims as being nonsense (you can read the latest one I saw at https://developer.paciellogroup.com/blog/2020/05/bolt-on-accessibility-5-gears-in-reverse/). But for me, achieving WCAG compliance is not the end of the journey when it comes to accessibility. Another recent read was a piece by Vijay Matthew of Howlround Theatre Commons (https://howlround.com/making-your-website-accessible-vital-your-equity-diversity-and-inclusion-efforts) in which he states; “Our biggest lesson, however, was learning that simply complying to technical standards is not the same thing as true inclusion. We can’t just check the box of compliance and think that the work is done. It is quite possible to make a website that technically passes all the accessibility tests but that still is terribly difficult for a person to use.” I’d been trying to articulate that thought for 4 years! It’s here, in the world of being inclusive and promoting inclusion online that Recite sits and my focus is. Imagine if you will the person with Irlen Syndrome (you can learn what Irlen Syndrome is at https://www.irlensyndrome.org/what-is-irlen-syndrome/) who has a preference for green background and black text. A site that is compliant as far as standards and guidelines are concerned is still difficult for that person to use and, is difficult to replicate in most (all?) browsers. Here’s what google returns as theme extensions for example https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/themes. Now, what about the person who has a preference for a particular shade of blue, using a particular font, in a particular language, but has sensory issues so would love to see that image carousel disappear. You (as in the provider of the site/platform/application) can’t accommodate this. It simply wouldn’t work for everyone, and that’s the point, we’re all individual, we all have our own preferences, you cannot provide an experience that works for all by meeting the highest of Web Accessibility Guidelines, it’s not possible (but you should still be building to them (see above)). What you can do is give people as many choices as possible, so that their experience is as inclusive as it can be. That is what Recite does. What it does not do, is make your site ‘accessible’, it helps you make your online world more inclusive for users and visitors. All of which leaves me thinking that the answer to the question I posed myself when I started this 'What does Accessibility mean to me' is, it means 2 different things – it means compliance, but it implicitly means inclusion too. I might start talking about Recite as Accessyclusion software!
Jobtrain collaborative webinar Join Recite Me's Sales Manager, Martin Robertson and Giles Heckstall-Smith Director of Strategic Development at Jobtrain as they discuss: The differences between accessibility and inclusion Demystifying and explaining WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) and AA compliance Learning and understanding your audience and the options you should make available for diverse groups (e.g. personalisation, colours, fonts and languages) Setting up your ATS to deliver an inclusive candidate experience Watch the Webinar back now
To enable all residents to access important information on the Sefton Council website they now offer accessibility and language support. At this time when it is vital that everybody is aware of the messages regarding COVID-19. Sefton Council is promoting the ability of Recite Me to help its’s diverse population who require additional support when visiting their website. By turning on the Recite Me accessibility toolbar, people visiting the Council’s website can use the support service to read website pages out loud in different voices and languages, customise the styling of the website including fonts and colours, and use reading aids such as a ruler and screen mask. ”I have Autism and Dyslexia and found that when using the Council’s website, I can change the font to Dyslexia font and add a ruler to keep my place, which really helps me to understand the information I need to stay independent. I am happy that the Council use Recite Me as it is very helpful and very interesting.“ Maria a Sefton Resident Meeting the needs of their residents is a priority to the council to reach those with a wide variety of communication needs and to ensure they are totally inclusive and accessible. Sefton Council spokesperson commented, “Recite Me has helped us to meet this vital requirement, offering a range of features supporting a wide range of communication needs, including for those people with learning disabilities, those with a hearing or visual impairment, and those for who English is not their first language. “This feature has been crucial during the COVID-19 situation; where clear communication and accessible information has been an important element in stopping the spread of the virus within our communities and keeping our population healthy. In some cases, those residents who benefit most from the Recite Me features are those same people for whom shielding and public health messages have the highest importance. "Communicating with them on issues such as mental health support, alterations to delivery of support services and public health guidance is extremely important and Recite Me ensures that all our information can be delivered in a format that suits the needs of our residents.”
The final deadline for all public sector bodies to meet the new accessibility regulations for public sector websites and applications is set for 23 September 2020, which is fast approaching. With this in mind, we thought it was time to revisit the key details, emphasise the importance of accessibility to public sector information, and outline steps your public sector organisation can take to ensure you comply. Access to public sector information is especially important in light of recent world events. The Covid-19 pandemic has confined a significant percentage of UK citizens to their homes, making access to information particularly difficult for the elderly, disabled and vulnerable, further highlighting the need for equality when it comes to the accessibility of information online. We have touched on this previously with reference to how utility companies can help customers in vulnerable circumstances during lockdown, and many of the same principles apply when discussing public sector information. The Story So Far In September 2018 the new accessibility regulations for public sector websites and applications came into force, making it essential that providers of public services and facilities make their online information accessible to all. Public sector services are many and varied and include local authorities, law enforcement, healthcare providers, emergency services, education institutions, infrastructure suppliers, and transport providers. The new regulations came with two deadlines for compliance: ● New public sector websites published on or after the regulations came into force in September 2018 needed to follow the principles of the World Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 accessibility Level AA by 23 September 2019. ● Existing websites published before the regulations came into force in September 2018 must meet the new accessibility standards by 23 September 2020. What do the New Regulations Entail? The web content accessibility guidelines are based on four cornerstone principles that allow anyone to access and use web content. You can download a full guide to the regulations here, but some of the key points include: ● Using alt text tags for all images and videos. ● Using high contrast between text and background. ● Adding web accessibility software. ● Making documents such as PDFs, Microsoft Word docs, and any other online forms accessible. ● Ensuring page headings are displayed correctly. ● Allowing people using screen readers to easily navigate around the website. Why is it Important to Comply? To answer a question with a question, who wouldn’t want as many people as possible to be able to access and use their website? But of course, there is more to it than that… As the new rules are now official government legislation, public sector bodies must act to ensure their websites and apps comply with the requirements, otherwise they may face enforcement action and will also run the risk of significant damage to their reputations. So it is important to run a basic accessibility test before publishing any new public sector website or app. Aside from the potential for financial and reputational repercussions, there are several other motivating factors for public sector bodies to observe the new requirements: ● Nearly one in five people in the UK have some form of disability that could affect their capacity to access information. ● The UK has an ageing population, and the aged are some of the heaviest users of many public sector services such as transport provision, healthcare services, and local authority schemes. ● The older we get the more likely we are to develop a disability, and a 2019 study revealed that only 60% of local authority websites’ home pages were accessible to people with disabilities. ● With Covid-19 restrictions still in place and many citizens still in lockdown, accessibility to public sector information online is more important than ever. How can Recite Me Help? Hundreds of companies already use Recite Me software to make their websites more accessible to readers, including many healthcare providers, education institutions, and other organisations within the public sector. The Recite Me assistive toolbar makes it possible for websites to easily comply with the four cornerstone principles of the new guidelines by ensuring that online content is: Perceivable – our toolbar allows content to be perceived either via sound or enhanced visual means. Understandable – our styling features allow people to change the way that content is displayed for personal ease of use. Operable – our technology allows users to track their location on a page via the screen reader navigation feature. Robust - Once Recite Me is installed onto your website you will receive regular updates and will always have the latest version. More specifically, users of the Recite Me toolbar can: • Personalise font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read. • Download content as an audio file so they can listen on the move. • Convert page content into over 100 different on-screen languages. • Have the page read aloud in a choice of 35 different languages. • Customise PDF documents and have them read aloud or translated. • Utilise the mask screen tool, which isolates parts of the page to help with focus. • Use the ruler tool to make reading easier. The Benefits: A Case Study of London University The University of London was one of the first educational institutions to embed the Recite Me toolbar onto their website, and the results were quite staggering. In just six months there was significant engagement and interaction, and the university was delighted with the outcome: • Over 16,400 unique users • 43,000 toolbar launches • 131,500 features used • 31,000 pieces of content translated • 97,000 pieces of content read aloud • 11,000 styling customisations These statistics show just how important inclusion and diversity considerations are on the web, and why ultimately, all public sector bodies should be doing as much as they can to ensure online accessibility for all. Want to Know More? Are you are concerned that your public sector organisation will not be ready for the deadline? To get more information about what you need to do to comply with the new regulations and how Recite Me can help you, please feel free to contact our team or book a demo.
The state of Tennessee is home to 6.7 million residents and around 30% face barriers accessing information online due to website inaccessibility and language barriers. Over a million Tennessee residents have a reported disability, which can impact their lives in varied ways, from limited sight, hearing and mobility, to reading comprehension and more. Additionally, more than 5% of residents speak a language other than English as their primary language. Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) is on a mission to protect the rights of people with disabilities and support them at no cost. At DRT, they believe that access to online information is a right and they are deeply committed to providing accessible resources. on the DRT website there is a wealth of information online to help people find, understand, and access services they need, but without accessible tools, those resources may go unused. To fulfill this commitment and provide the most accessible support they now enable all website visitors to read and understanding content barrier-free through Recite Me assistive technology. This accessibility and language support toolbar offers a unique set of features to make their website accessible to both people with disabilities and non-English speaking users. Visitors can fully customize the DRT website to suit their individual needs to create a truly customized experience. Toolbar options include; text to speech functionality, fully customisable styling options, reading aids and a translation tool with over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices and many other features. Kelsey Loschke, Director of Community Relations at Disability Rights Tennessee commented, "Disability Rights Tennessee is thrilled to offer the Recite Me toolbar to its web users. People do not always have the assistive technology they need to navigate online. This robust and fully customizable toolbar will allow all users to access our web content and services. Offering tools like Recite Me makes business sense for everyone that has a presence on the web. "
As Covid-19 continues to dominate our daily lives, there is increasing concern surrounding UK citizens who are classified as vulnerable – and the growing number who are becoming vulnerable – in their own homes. With internet usage skyrocketing across the country, additional value is being placed on the importance of having the necessary information and communication services available online so that everyone can address their basic human needs for gas, water, and electricity. With limited opportunities to leave the house, and most brick and mortar customer service outlets remaining closed, this can be a challenge for the more vulnerable in our society. When discussing the vulnerable, we typically think of the elderly, the infirm, and those living below the poverty line. However, the term also takes account of those without the ability to adequately understand or communicate, and those who do not have access to information that they need. In this case specifically, the information they need to keep them safe and warm during the Covid-19 lockdown. In relation to online accessibility, this includes those who are unable to read in English and those who suffer from visual impairments. The same principle is true of those with disabilities. We tend to think of ‘the disabled’ as those who are physically incapacitated. However, many types of mental disability also fall into this category. This includes those who suffer from conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, and hyperlexia. The 2010 Equality Act identified all of these conditions as a disability because those suffering from them are unable to fulfill their potential. Online Accessibility Issues for the Vulnerable 10 % of UK citizens suffer from dyslexia. That’s 1 in every 10 of us that struggles with reading, writing, and spelling. In the online world, unless a website is equipped with accessibility software, this means encountering difficulties with readable fonts, colour contrast, and layout on any given webpage. 10% of the UK population speaks English as a second language. The majority of these can speak English too, but reading and writing in English are much more difficult than having a spoken conversion. This is mainly due to the many complex grammatical rules, but can also be exacerbated by additional factors such as differing phonetic systems between English and the native languages. So reading and communication online can be problematic. NHS statistics suggest that around 2 million residents in the UK are living with sight loss. Around 360,000 of these are registered blind, which leaves over 1.6 million partially sighted citizens that struggle to read web pages and use online chat functions. The Impacts for Utility Providers Over the last couple of decades, the UK has moved away from a nationalised gas and electricity system to a privatised system, and there are now more than 60 individual suppliers. This amount of choice can feel somewhat overwhelming, and the internet remains an essential source for information where people can research and compare their options. So it is not just the utility providers themselves that need to be considering consumer accessibility needs, but also the many comparison sites that help people make the best financial decisions. “The technology of consumer engagement is changing and moving online more and more. As a result, vulnerable customers need to be supported online. Recite Me is now calling on all UK energy comparison websites and energy suppliers to ensure their websites are accessible for people with disabilities. We look forward to seeing more UK energy comparison websites and energy suppliers using web accessibility software such as Recite Me to ensure they are fully supporting customers in vulnerable circumstances.” Recite Me Founder and CEO Ross Linnett The Covid-19 Catalyst Lockdown has made things more difficult for everyone. Communication is harder, human contact is reduced, and many people have withdrawn from society altogether. This has had a significant effect on individual psychology and stress levels, with studies and surveys already showing increases in cases of depression. All of us have struggled with the realities of Covid-19 in some way or another, so it is difficult to imagine how scared and frustrated some of our more vulnerable citizens are feeling at the moment. Imagine dealing with all of the regular day-to-day stress of living throughout the pandemic, plus having to deal with accessibility issues to the essential information and services you need to keep you housed, fed, and warm. It is under these circumstances that vulnerability levels increase, as any inequality in access to information (and by default services) can have significant financial impacts on the individuals concerned. This is especially true of those whose job or job security has been threatened by the coronavirus outbreak. The Solution Given the lack of physical contact and a reduced sense of community, it is clear that more needs to be done to develop stronger online communities. This means making information accessible to all, and especially information regarding basic needs like energy and heating. This is where products like Recite Me come in. The assistive toolbar allows those with sight loss or cognitive impairments like learning difficulties and dyslexia to access any website in a way best suited to their individual needs. It also incorporates different linguistic needs. Specific examples include: Text-to-speech functions. The ability to fully customise the look of a website for personal ease of use. A screen mask to provide colour tinting and block visual clutter. Additional reading aids such as an on-screen ruler and text-only mode. A real-time translation feature catering to over 100 languages, including 35 text-to-speech voices. The Recite Me accessibility toolbar is particularly useful during Covid-19 because it allows users to navigate and understand their online accounts without needing the additional support of live chat functions, or having to spend lengthy waiting times in telephone queues to speak with customer service representatives. Recite Me is proud to be working alongside many of the country’s leading utility organisations already, including Northern Powergrid, Cadent Gas Limited, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, and over 20 others. We invite all energy suppliers and utility comparison websites to follow their lead, and make their websites more inclusive by utilising assistive technology.
During these uncertain times, it is vital that vital information is accessible to all. London Luton Airport (LLA) has teamed up with accessibility software company Recite Me in creating a fully accessible COVID-19 information page to support all travellers around the world. At the start of the Coronavirus outbreak in the UK Recite Me Founder and CEO Ross Linnett, pledged that the company would support any business in making their online coronavirus information accessible and inclusive, at no cost. In three weeks, London Luton Airport has supported over 700 people to read and understand important travel information through being able to customise their experience online. Clare Armstrong, Head of Passenger Services at LLA said, “London Luton Airport believes that everybody should have an equal opportunity to fly and use our services. It is therefore vitally important for us to make our website easy to use for as many people as possible. “Joining the Recite Me pledge has enabled us to communicate our COVID19 message to the widest possible audience. Visitors can customise their viewing experience through a screen reader, styling options, reading aids and a translation function. This online support allows London Luton Airport’s key messages to be accessed and understood by all, particularly during these difficult and unsettling times. “ The Recite Me accessibility and language support toolbar will provide visitors to the London Luton Airport COVID-19 information page a wide range of features that include text to speech functionality, fully customisable styling features, reading aids and a translation tool with over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices. Ross Linnett, Recite Me CEO and Founder said: “During these uncertain times Recite Me is here to support businesses across the world to create online information related to Coronavirus that is accessible and inclusive for everyone for free.” Any business can visit the Recite Me website now to find out how the free accessible and inclusive landing page works and how to create their own landing page.
Today Thursday, May 21, 2020, marks the ninth Global Accessibility Awareness Day and together we all want businesses to think about digital inclusion for over 1 billion people worldwide who have disabilities. Let’s start off by discussing Web Accessibility. This is the term used to describe websites, tools, and technologies that are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can access your website easily. Web accessibility also benefits people without disabilities, for example, people with “temporary disabilities” such as lost glasses or for people who would prefer to listen to a large section of text instead of reading. WebAIM’s recent web accessibility testing of the home pages of one million websites found that 85.3% (852,868) of websites studied didn’t meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) AA Level because of low contrast text. Causes of Most Common Accessibility Failures Low Contrast Text 86.3% Missing Image Alt Text 66% Empty Links 59.9% Missing Form Input Labels 53.8% Empty Buttons 28.7% Missing Document Language 28% Overall, the study shows that many of the roughly 13 million people in the UK who have a disability won’t be able to easily access the websites analysed, if at all. These are alarming statistics to think that so many people in 2020 are unable to access the internet barrier-free to complete everyday tasks. Every user deserves a first-rate digital experience on the web. Understanding Accessibility standards Web Accessibility standards have been created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for everyone to follow. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 define how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. The 13 guidelines and success criteria are organised around four principles, which set the foundation for anyone to access and use web content. They are perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. You can find out about these in more detail here Understand WCAG guidelines. Creating a digital platform with these principles in mind is a great starting point but what about usability and inclusion? We are all different and these guidelines are not enough to support everyone online. Common disabilities and impairments that need support online are, visual, hearing, motor, and cognitive. People need to be able customise their experience to read and understand online content easily. “Our biggest lesson, however, was learning that simply complying to technical standards is not the same thing as true inclusion. We can’t just check the box of compliance and think that the work is done. It is quite possible to make a website that technically passes all the accessibility tests but that still is terribly difficult for a person to use.” Vijay Mathew, Cultural Strategist & Co-Founder HowlRound Theatre Commons Creating a customized experience A proven way of supporting people online with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, and people who speak English as a second language, is assistive technology. Through the COVID-19 pandemic Recite Me has been spreading the importance of digital inclusion and supporting businesses for free with our assistive technology to provide accessibility support to staff and website visitors who need it the most. The overwhelming response towards our accessibility pledge so far resonates with why Global Accessibility Awareness Day is so important. Over 100 organsations from the UK and USA including, Public Health Wales, LNER, Virgin Money, Network Rail, Volkswagen, Atkins Global, and the RSPCA, have come together to support over 15,000 people online to read and understand vital COVID-19 information. If this is not enough evidence to show the importance of accessibility, I don’t know what is. So, it’s crucial that all websites and digital platforms are now accessible and inclusive, in order to make a fairer society, with equal opportunities for people with disabilities. Support Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) and share the need for digital inclusion to remove barriers from inaccessible websites that prevent people from taking an active part in life. 1000’s of organisations already use Recite Me to help make their websites accessible for people who have disabilities – To find out more contact the team or book your free demo.
Scottish Learning Disability Week 2020 runs from Monday 18th to Sunday 24th May. This year, to comply with Scottish Government guidelines regarding the current Covid-19 outbreak, all of the week’s events and activities will be held online. This makes it a perfect project for the team at Recite Me to get involved with, and we are excited about helping Scottish Learning Disability Week with accessibility support through the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD) website. About Scottish Learning Disability Week The theme of this year’s Scottish Learning Disability Week is ‘My Environment – My Place, My Planet’. The underlying premise is that everyone should be encouraged to think about their local environment and community, and the steps that can be taken to help all who live there thrive and prosper. From an accessibility standpoint, this means raising general awareness about learning disabilities and the need for equality when it comes to having access to online information. It also includes creating opportunities for those with learning disabilities to be able to contribute to discussions, policies, and debates on a larger scale, not just in their own local environment. In a nutshell, the Scottish Commission for People with a Learning Disability (SCLD), who are facilitating the week, is keen to create opportunities for people to come together in their personal environments, while also demonstrating that those with learning disabilities can - and should - be involved on both local and national platforms when it comes to more global topics too. Fun Fact The mascot for Scottish Learning Disability Week is Uno the Unicorn. Did you know that the unicorn is the official national animal of Scotland? Did you know…? ● Approximately one in every hundred people worldwide had a learning disability that can make accessing information online difficult. ● There are over 23,500 adults with learning disabilities known to local authorities in Scotland. ● There are over 13,500 children and young people with learning disabilities known to schools in Scotland ● These statistics only include people with learning disabilities known to authorities, and it is estimated that the total number of people who have a learning disability in Scotland is likely closer to 120,000. How Can Recite Me Help? Recite Me was founded on the core belief that no individual should ever be defined by their disability or miss out on online content because of it. We want the online world to be an equal playing field, where those with learning disabilities are respected and included by everyone. As such, Recite Me’s unique assistive toolbar is designed to allow users to customise website copy in whichever way works best for them, regardless of their specific accessibility needs. When equipped with Recite Me software, websites become instantly accessible, readable, and much easier to understand. From text-to-speech functions, customisable styling features, reading support aids, and a translation tool with over 100 languages, we provide all of the online accessibility support that readers need. What This Means for Other Businesses Once the scale of what is possible by lifting the barriers to online access becomes clear, making a website accessible to all becomes a no-brainer. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the smart thing to do. Based on any given interpretation of the statistics on Scotland alone, there could be up to 120,000 people in just one small country, who are disadvantaged by not being able to read and understand online content. Regardless of which sector or industry you are part of, that’s an awful lot of people to marginalise - especially when the software needed to include them already exists. That’s up to 120,000 potential customers that businesses are missing out on. Up to 120,000 potential students without the opportunity to learn and study. Up to 120,000 people who can’t access the valuable information they need to help them with health and financial planning. A talent pool of up to 120,000 hardworking employees lacking the ability to tap into their dream job application. And this is just in Scotland alone, so when you take a moment to reflect on what the implications are on a continental or global level, the stakes are raised even further. Progress So Far… SCLD first began to use Recite Me back in 2018 and found that it made a significant difference amongst web users with a learning disability. Recite Me was implemented onto two relevant websites: SCLD’s main website, and ‘The Keys to life’, a website that provides information on the Scottish Government’s learning disability strategy, The Keys to life. Early results show a significant percentage of users interacting with our accessibility toolbar and using all three of the main features – the screen reader, translation, and styling. Some statistics so far: ● Over 1,425 individual toolbar feature clicks. ● The top screen reader languages were English, followed by Portuguese, Dutch, and Flemish. ● Top styling changes included o altering link colours to red o increasing font size to 110% o changing the background colour to yellow While still early days in terms of statistics, these results show that we are very much achieving our goals of supporting a full range of differing abilities online. This includes catering to varying language preferences, those who suffer from visual impairments or colour blindness, and those with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, or hyperlexia. There are still barriers to accessing the internet, and therefore online content, for some people with a learning disability. The digital world can be bewildering for many, regardless of whether you have a disability. However, it is hoped that through assistive technology like Recite Me, progress is being made to make the online world a more accessible and inviting place for people with a learning disability. How to Get Involved Join SCLD and the hundreds of other third and public sector organisations, corporate businesses, service providers, and charities that have already made strides towards inclusivity. Start working on making your website accessible to all by utilising assistive technology today. As well as the feel-good factor that comes with it, you’ll be tapping into a whole new network of potential and positive outcomes! Find out more about Scottish Learning Disability Week… Scottish Learning Disability Week is Scotland’s learning disability awareness-raising week, which takes place in May every year. Every year has a different theme that is important to the lives of people with a learning disability. Scottish Learning Disability Week 2020 takes place next week from Monday 18th – Sunday 24th May. You can find out more about how to get involved here. On social media use the hashtag #LDWeekScot2020 and: ● Follow us on Twitter. ● Like our Facebook page. ● Follow us on Instagram. ● Sign up to our eFocus mailing list.
During these uncertain times, it is vital that vital information is accessible to all. Mk Dons has created a fully accessible COVID-19 support hub through the support of the Recite Me accessibility pledge. Recite Me Founder and CEO Ross Linnett pledged that the company would support any business in making their online coronavirus information more inclusive, at no cost. Fans of all ages and regardless of their differing abilities or if they speak English as a second language need to be able to access important information online regarding their football club and the COVID-19 pandemic. Antoni Fruncillo, Media Manager at MK Dons commented, “At MK Dons we believe very strongly that football is for everyone and therefore, we are delighted to have been able to link up with Recite Me and ensure that important information from the Football Club can be accessed and understood by all, particularly during this difficult and unsettling time.” Evidence shows that at least one in five people have some kind of disability, long-term health condition, or impairment, which means they often have online access issues. This makes it essential to consider each individual's needs and ensure websites and other digital platforms are accessible to them. The Recite Me accessibility and language support toolbar will provide visitors to the MK Dons COVID-19 information page a wide range of features that include text to speech functionality, fully customisable styling features, reading aids, and a translation tool with over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices. Ross Linnett, Recite Me CEO and Founder said: “During these uncertain times Recite Me is here to support businesses across the world to create online information related to Coronavirus that is accessible and inclusive for everyone. “So, this is our pledge to help everyone in a time of need by helping any business make key information online, free of charge. “If you think your sporting organisation needs help to make your Coronavirus related online information accessible and inclusive to all your staff and customers, please contact us now.”
Digital Union collaborative webinar Join Recite Me to discuss how to remove online barriers for your diverse audiences and move from basic compliance to actively supporting visitors and users. Who Should Attend This webinar? This event is open to any businesses and employees looking to improve their communications by making their online presence more accessible for all - including those with disabilities. Sign up for free here > https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/online-networking-online-accessibility-and-inclusion-tickets-104127125034 Digital Union Powered by Generator, Digital Union is the largest collective of creative and digital businesses operating in the North East of England. It supports and champions all members and believes that by working together, the North East digital sector can lead the way.
Millions of people across the world are working from home at the moment because of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. This working from home trend has seen a rapid surge in internet usage, which has roughly doubled during the day in the UK, according to internet service provider Virgin Media. Most employers have created working at-home practices and solutions that allow staff to access their internal systems being used remotely, but people are still getting used to the new ‘normal’ working arrangements. Making sure that websites, intranets, and other digital platforms are accessible must be at the heart of new working from home arrangements. Evidence shows that at least one in five people in the UK have some kind of disability, long-term health condition, or impairment, which means they often have access issues. This makes it essential to consider the access needs of these users and ensure websites and other digital platforms are accessible for them, whether they are working at home or anywhere else. Supporting NHS staff Even before the outbreak of COVID-19 Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was already using web accessibility software Recite Me on its internal StaffNet intranet and website. Having Recite Me’s assistive toolbar on the Trust’s internal StaffNet intranet means that staff can use Recite Me whilst working from home to help them easily access StaffNet. Recite Me’s assistive toolbar can be used for styling changes like changing the font size and font type, zooming in, changing the text and background colour contrast, or users can use it to opt to have the text read aloud. Recite Me can also translate content from English into over 100 different languages, which makes it a perfect working from home tool for people who speak English as a second language. For example, Donato Cacciacarro, a Domestic Supervisor at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Recite Me is really good. I can translate text just by highlighting it or, if I don’t understand something in English, I can use the dictionary button“ The numbers don’t lie Recent data on how Recite Me is used by visitors to the Trust’s StaffNet intranet over the last five months show just how popular Recite Me is. The most popular accessibility and language features of the Recite Me toolbar being used are: Screen Reader 54.3% (2,453 pieces on content read aloud) Styling 21.27% (979 styling changed from 742 toolbar launches) Translation 19.73% (908 pieces of content translated. The Top 4 languages being, Afrikanns, Russian, French, and Welsh) These figures show how often Recite Me is used and how much it helps the Trust’s staff and its service users. Nikki Kriel, Organisational Development Manager for Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As an inclusive employer, Recite Me has been extremely popular in a number of ways offering users the opportunity to enlarge, translate or read aloud the Trust’s website.” Jennie Shore, HR Director for Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, added: “Recite Me is an extremely useful tool which helps us to be a more inclusive organisation.” We are now offering to host a free accessible and inclusive landing page for any business to share your COVID-19 related messages to all staff and customers. You can visit the dedicated COVID-19 support page on our website now to find out how the free accessible and inclusive landing page works and how to contact us to create a landing page for your business.
RIDI collaborative webinar Recite Me will look at the facts & figures supporting greater online accessibility for recruitment companies, and why it's fast becoming a necessity rather than nice to have. We will provide top tips as to how to move from basic compliance to actively supporting a diverse and inclusive culture by removing online barriers to accessibility - externally and internally. Who Should Attend This webinar? In House Recruiters Recruitment Professionals D&I professionals HR business partners and managers HR directors This webinar is free to attend please click here to sign up
Do-IT Solutions is a ‘tech for good’ company providing online and face- to face training and web-based tools to support neurodiverse people to optimise skills and to ultimately gain and sustain employment. We work in a number of sectors including education, employment and the justice sector nationally and internationally. The team has the expertise, knowledge and experience not only to deliver the processes and training but also the IT expertise to build accessible tools. We help employers attract, retain and harness neurodiverse talent and help those in education and the justice sector to seek out their strengths and minimise the challenges in their day to day lives. Do-IT takes a person-centered approach, supporting each individual in the context of their lives. I am Amanda Kirby, a medical doctor, CEO of Do-IT, and Professor in Developmental Disorders. I have more than 25 years’ experience, working clinically, in research and practically e in relation to neurodiversity. I have trained more than 100,000 people, written 8 books and published more than 100 research papers. I am also a parent and grandparent of a very neurodiverse family with amazing musicians, scientists, mathematicians and doctors alongside other wonderful people in our family with learning disabilities and smiles to make the world light up! Our team has internationally recognised experience of developing robust tools and training, including the co-founder Dr Ian Smythe as an internationally recognised dyslexia expert. He has been working in the field of accessibility also for more than 20 years. What is your D&I mission for 2020 and beyond? Do-IT is passionate about championing the talents of people who are neurodivergent and believe in sharing information about neurodiversity to others in order to influence and encourage positive change. Our mission for 2020 and beyond is to ensure that education and employment places are neuro-inclusive so that talents can be harnessed and maintained. We recognise a complementary neurodiverse world offers new solutions when we work together. In addition, we want to help to provide the means of raising awareness of specific challenges sometimes relating to neurodiversity and provide practical tools and training so that we help reduce social inequity and provide everyone an equal opportunity to showcase their talents. Ensuring systems are accessible is essential to allow the doors to be open equally for all. Can you share some D&I best practice examples? We are passionate about inclusion and were the first Disability Confident Leader in Wales. We also led on the content for the www.neurodiversityemployment.org.uk website and used Recite Me to ensure that it was accessible for all, as we do for all our sites. We have recently launched an e-learning course for HR, Diversity and Inclusion leaders that is accessible and easy to use with bite-size videos that can be watched at home or on the move. It provides step by step guidance to ensure best practice at all stages from recruitment to retaining talent. We are launching an ‘Embracing Neurodiversity kitemark’ in collaboration with the ADHD Foundation that will allow organisations to show others they are inclusive and have undertaken awareness training. During this terrible time with COVID-19 we have been delivering free webinars to more than 2500 people in the UK including a series for DWP and the Ability Network. What are you doing across your digital landscape to be inclusive? Our e-learning materials are accessible in design and delivery. We are busy training others on how to deliver accessible content including considering readability of information, the design and the manner in which it is delivered. We have launched our accessible e-learning modules which include practical guidance on being a neuro-inclusive employer. Our Neurodiversity Workplace Profiler is as web- based profiling tool which is BDA Assured and captures relevant background information regarding an individual’sjob, provides an understanding of what intervention has worked successfully, and what further support the person may require. It contains an initial Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD,ASD screeners relating to Neurodiversity strengths and challenges, wellbeing tools and resources and assistive technology guidance We offer the Neurodiversity Aware® Award which is a training and accreditation programme leading to an Open College Network (OCN) Level 4 qualification for those who want to gain a greater understanding of neurodiverse related conditions and want to have confidence supporting people in their workplaces. Can you share an example of D&I success at your organisation? We are leading the way in establishing an accessible means of raising awareness, by providing innovative tools and training to reach employers of all sizes and their staff. We constantly review and consider how we can be more inclusive in all that we do, including communication mapping with our team to ensure we understand the different ways we best communicate. Concluding company message Do-IT Solutions is a tech- for- good company that values collaboration and shared working and is passionate about making a difference and helping others to be the best they can. We see maximising neurodiverse talents is essential for the survival of humanity. We like to develop lasting relationships that allow for sustainable change. This results in inclusion never being a ‘tick box’ exercise but business as usual so that we all benefit.