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Colour Blindness and Website Assistive Technology

06 Sep 2021 | news

Did you know that we are all born colour blind? Our vision slowly improves from birth, and most of us can see the full colour spectrum by the time we reach six months of age. However, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women remain colour blind throughout their lives. That’s an average population percentage of around 4.5%, accounting for over 300 million people worldwide. What Is Colour Blindness? Colour Blindness is also known as Colour Vision Deficiency, and is defined as the decreased ability to see colours or differences in colours. The condition is mostly genetic and is incurable. However, some people develop colour blindness later in life due to old age, head injuries, or diseases such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Colour Blindness is Different for Everyone The most common form of colour blindness involves reds and greens. Blue/yellow colour blindness and total colour blindness are much rarer. But regardless of the type, everyone experiences colour blindness differently. For example, being red/green colour blind doesn’t necessarily mean people will only confuse reds and greens. Any colour containing red or green pigments can be problematic, which means people may also confuse blue with purple because they can’t distinguish the red hues within a purple object. The effects of colour blindness also vary in severity. Research reveals that around 40% of colour blind people leave secondary school still unaware of their condition. However, around 60% experience problems in everyday life such as: Choosing clothing Determining ripe from rotten food Understanding traffic lights Reading information online How Does Colour Blindness Affect Internet Use? Any visual impairment can make online reading difficult because text size, font, and spacing all affect readability. But for those who are colour blind, the most significant factor tends to be colour contrast. Low-quality monitors, bad lighting, and screen glare can influence the clarity of some colours, but even without these, some websites simply do not use combinations that are colour blind friendly. Poor Colour Contrasts Colour combinations to avoid include: green/red green/brown blue/purple green/blue light green/yellow blue/grey green/grey green/black The picture below shows how a regular sighted person would view these colours compared to someone with Protanopia (red colour blindness). Image Source: Smashing Magazine The Perils of Grey Scaling Grey scaling makes websites incredibly difficult to use for people with vision problems. It tends to cause headaches and eye strain because all elements on the page look the same. Plus, usability is impacted because: Calls to action look disabled Links are indiscernible The hierarchy of information is lost Earlier this year in the UK, Network Rail and National Rail hit the headlines when they switched to a black and white version of their website to mark the death of Prince Phillip. However, this gesture backfired as many customers with vision deficits could no longer use the site. You can read the full article here. Colour Blind Inclusive Website Design When making accessibility adjustments to accommodate colour blind readers, web designers should consider the following action points: Text – To be readable, text should be based on accepted text colour, background colour, and text size combinations. The newest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) require a contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for normal text (14 point) and 3:1 for large text (18 point +). Images – Where text is overlaid onto images, the opacity of the image often needs to be increased to make the text readable. Links – Links should be easy to identify without relying on colour or hovering over the text with a cursor. Underlining links is a good way to make links easier to spot. Swatches – Use labels or descriptive text, as it is often impossible to differentiate between options on colour picker charts based on visuals alone. Required fields – Some people may not see the difference when colour is used to signify mandatory fields on online forms. Using asterisks or clearly labelling some fields as ‘required’ are better options. Placeholder text – Placeholder text usually has insufficient contrasts, but increasing the contrast causes confusion between placeholder text and user input text. So it’s much better to use labels than placeholder text on forms and login pages. Buttons – Don’t use colour alone to identify primary buttons. The right solutions depend on branding preferences, but alternatives include utilising boldness, icons, borders, and sizing. Graphs – Using patterns rather than single blocks of colour to denote different sections makes visual displays much easier to understand. Helpful Tools WebAim Contrast Checker – Allows you to check any two colours against each other to gauge contrast suitability. Colour Oracle Colour Blindness Simulator – Provides demonstrations and examples of how people with vision deficits view things differently. Toptal Webpage Filter – Previews what web pages look like to people with various forms of colour blindness. How Can Website Accessibility Technology Help? To support those with colour blindness and other visual impairments, the Recite Me toolbar provides a wide range of customizable options to enable website visitors to tailor their experience. This includes background, text and link colours, remove pictures from pages to minimise styling distractions, and have content read aloud. Users can: Change the colour of HTML coded attributes, including text, background, links, and buttons. Experiment with unlimited combinations, allowing complete control over the colour spectrum to account for all preferences. Choose from 35 text-to-speech languages. What Recite Me technology cannot do is change colours within images. Nor does our technology promise to make your website instantly ‘accessible’ in the form of how a website is built or compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Our software is built with WCAG principles at its core, but the onus is on business owners to make their websites as accessible as possible to begin with. Then, with Recite Me software integrated, you can provide your online visitors with as many choices as possible. Not dictating how someone should view a website creating a unique inclusive experience. “The range of styling features on the Recite Me assistive toolbar massively supports my content reading. Mostly the font size increase button, the colour contrast, and font options”. Martin Lea, Recite Me Sales Executive Is Your Website Colour Inclusive? Inaccessible websites and apps create barriers to use. No matter what sector of business your organisation sits in, this is simply not good for business. Here’s our 5 step process for ensuring your website is accommodating of colour blind users: Take some time to reflect on the difference being inclusive will mean for your target market. By making your products, services, and information accessible to more of the population, you stand to increase traffic flow, sales, and revenue. Check that your web design conforms to best practices and principles for accessibility. Familiarise yourself with the WCAG and ensure your website meets the minimum requirements. Check the disability legislation that applies to websites in your location, and make a plan to complete any necessary updates. Here in the UK, we follow the Equality Act. However, if your business operates further afield in the USA or Australia, you will also need to be familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). Look into assistive technology software to add further layers of usability to your website, making it truly inclusive. Recite Me is quick and easy to implement on your website and can usually be installed in under an hour. Our software is already active on over 3500 websites, and every year we help millions of people to enjoy inclusive journeys online. Contact our team today to learn more or book a live demo of our toolbar. Article Sources: Enchroma, Colour Blind Awareness.

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Accessibility Tools: A 'Game Changer' for the GMB Union

03 Sep 2021 | news

GMB Union is the first union to launch Recite Me online accessibility and language tools to serve the diverse needs of UK workers. GMB represents employees from a broad range of sectors including manufacturing, commercial services, and public services. To get the best possible deal for workers when it comes to pay, work-life, and fairness, GMB Union has ensured all online information can be accessed barrier-free regardless of an individual’s disability, learning difficulty, visual impairment, or language. Nell Andrew, National Equality and Inclusion Officer at GMB Union commented, “Equality is at the heart of everything GMB does, inside and outside the workplace. That’s why we’re proud that visitors to our website can customise the GMB web pages in a variety of ways that work best for them, using the Recite Me website accessibility toolbar. “GMB is committed to making every workplace we organise as accessible and inclusive as possible – having the Recite Me website accessibility toolbar for members to access the information they need has brought us closer to our goal and ensured we are led by best practice." The unique and customisable toolbar on the GMB Union website provides users with screen reading functionality, multiple reading aids, customisable styling options, and an on-demand live translation feature that boasts over 100 languages including 35 text-to-speech and styling options. Nell Andrew continued, “Vital Features such as being able to easily have documents read aloud or translated into a whole range of languages have been described by our members as ‘a game changer’ in terms of accessibility and inclusion.” To explore assistive technology on the GMB Union website, select the Aa icon at the top of the website. To find out more information on how you can provide an inclusive online experience go to the Recite Me website and book a demo with a member of our team.

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Northern Housing Association Teams Up With Recite Me

02 Sep 2021 | news

25% of people living in the North East have a disability and can require additional support when accessing vital housing information via digital technologies. To ensure everyone’s voices are heard, Karbon Homes has implemented Recite Me assistive technology on their website to support residents who are visually impaired or neurodiverse. The service is also helpful for those who speak English as a second language. People visiting Karbon Homes’ website can access support tools by selecting “Recite Me” in the footer of the website. Users can fully customise the site to suit their own needs by translating content into different languages, or requesting for content to be read aloud, or adjusting the colour, font, and size of the text. Di Keller, strategic equality, diversity and inclusion lead at Karbon Homes said “We’ve been working hard to make sure our online channels are accessible and inclusive for all. The Recite Me toolbar and analytics help us to better understand what people are doing on our website and how they are accessing our services. This insight is a key part in our learning journey and is fundamental in helping us to plan any future development.” Karbon Homes builds, manages, and maintains almost 30,000 homes across the North of England, aiming to provide quality housing, deliver excellent customer service and shape strong, sustainable places for its communities. Recite Me assistive technology is quick and easy to implement on your organisation’s website. For more information please contact a member of our team.

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Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council Provides Online Accessibility Tools for 220,000 Residents

31 Aug 2021 | news

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council has transformed the way people access online information and services with Recite Me assistive technology. Stockport Council is a local authority in Greater Manchester, England with a responsibility to oversee local services for residents including bin collections, street lighting, libraries, and leisure centers. To support the needs of the diverse range of residents in Greater Manchester, Stockport Council has removed online barriers for those with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, and those who speak English as a second language. The digital world can be a daunting place for those who face access barriers, particularly if you cannot receive information on services and resources that affect your life. Kirsteen Roe, Service Director for Citizen Focus at Stockport Council commented, “Stockport Council has a transformation programme focussed on improving customer experience. We are modernising the way people access council services, putting the needs of the people who will be using the service first. Most people in Stockport are online and expect information and services to be available 24/7. Making sure that everyone has equal access to this information and our services, regardless of their ability or disability, is a responsibility that we take very seriously. Our user experience team has focussed on our customers’ journeys, looking at ways that we could make it easier for people to use our website and online tools and removing the barriers that some face accessing online content.” The Recite Me accessibility and language toolbar on the Stockport Council website ensures those with a range of abilities can read content in a way that best suits their individual needs. Features of the toolbar include screen reading functionality, multiple reading aids, customisable styling options, and an on-demand live translation feature that boasts over 100 languages including 35 text-to-speech options. Kirsteen Roe continued, “Stockport Council places diversity and inclusion at the heart of our values. We are committed to ensuring equal access to our services and improving access to information about them. We chose to add the Recite Me assistive toolbar on our website because it gives everyone a better website experience and access to digital services that we offer.” To explore the unique customisable toolbar on the Stockport Council website, go to ‘Accessibility’. For more information on providing an inclusive online experience for all go to the Recite Me website or book a demo with a member of our team.

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Making PDFs Accessible

26 Aug 2021 | download

What many people don’t know is that PDFs can be inaccessible to disabled people, particularly those with a visual impairment or a learning disability such as dyslexia. If a PDF is not designed in the right way, someone using a screenreading device or the voiceover command might not be able to access the content. Download our guide to find out our top 10 tips for making PDFs accessible and how the Recite Me PDF reader can help.

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How can utility providers support customers online?

25 Aug 2021 | download

Every home needs access to gas, water and electricity. Yet, utility services are not always readily available to all. Throughout the last year, many customers have been homebound due to COVID-19 restrictions and unable to access services and information easily online. We have written a helpful document explaining how utility providers can help customers who face online barriers. Download it now.

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Labour Unions: Supporting People in the Workplace With Accessible Information

23 Aug 2021 | news

Recite Me and workers unions are aligned in a mission to provide support and promote inclusion for all. Unions are often the first port of call for employees looking to maintain or improve their working conditions. And in today’s digital landscape, web accessibility is absolutely a part of that. How Do Unions Work? Unions are democratic organisations formed by groups of workers who use their collective strength to lobby managers and employers for improvements to pay, healthcare benefits, safety, unfair treatment, discrimination, etc. There are many unions spanning various industries and sectors, and more often than not, unions are legally recognised by employers. Savvy organisations welcome unions as a way of driving and managing change, and ensuring that their staff have a voice. Unions and Disability While unions support all of their members, some employees are open to more potential bias and discrimination than others. This includes disabled employees. In recent years, unions have developed new Equality Representative and Disability Champion roles with the specific aim of improving disability policies. Disabled Employees What do you think of when you hear the word disabled? Someone in a wheelchair? Someone who uses sign language? Someone who has a lifelong injury? Or something else entirely? Disability can come in many forms, and aside from the stereotypical definitions of a physical disability, several hidden disabilities can cause disadvantages in the workplace. These include: Visual impairments such as poor eyesight, deafblindness, and colour blindness. Learning difficulties like dyslexia, hyperlexia, and dyspraxia. Neurodevelopmental and neurological conditions like ADHD, autism, and epilepsy. Language and literacy issues Sources: WHO, United Nation Legislation and Workplace Best Practices It's not acceptable just to ‘check the box’ on hiring candidates with disabilities and simply hope for the best. Employees need to be supported, and it is expected by law that employers do not treat disabled staff less favourably. Legislation Various national laws prohibit discrimination and require employers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled employees. Examples include: UK – The Equality Act of 2010 Europe – The European Accessibility Act USA – The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Australia – The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) Best Practices Aside from legal considerations, employers should also consider adopting best practices to avoid union action. Businesses are encouraged to: Create a culture of inclusion that promotes self-identification, authenticity, and drives innovation through disability inclusion. Offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to help employees resolve problems that are affecting their performance. Conduct regular reviews, make accommodations, and provide the tools each employee needs to contribute and excel. Online Barriers So how does web accessibility fit in? In today’s increasingly digital landscape, employees rely on websites, online training platforms, and staff intranets to stay up to date with company news and perform to the best of their abilities. Without equal access for all, employees with disabilities are excluded because they are unable to: Read the words due to font, size, text spacing, or poor colour contrasts between the background and the foreground. Understand the web copy because it’s not in their first language. (understand the language) Use a mouse or touchpad. Focus on the relevant section of text. Remove distractions presented by graphics and image carousels. Access PDFs or online forms due to missing fields and empty button errors. What is GMB Doing to Help? GMB was the first workers union to adopt our accessibility software. GMB supports over 620,000 workers across various industries and many different walks of life. So it is essential that their website visitors can customise web pages to access the information they need in the way that works best for them. “GMB is committed to making every workplace as accessible and inclusive as possible. We know many members can face barriers when trying to access digital resources. The Recite Me toolbar allows users to pick their own unique range of settings for font sizes, colours, styles, background colours, spacing, and more. Plus, vital features such as translation and text-to-speech in a range of languages has been described by our members as 'a game changer' in terms of accessibility and inclusion.” Nell Andrew, National Equality and Inclusion Officer, GMB How Can Recite Me Help? Assistive technology is one of the easiest and lowest-cost solutions for inaccessible websites. The Recite Me toolbar removes barriers in several ways by: Accounting for differences in vision - Users can adjust the font size, font type, and use a screen reader for better focus and ease of reading. Removing barriers for people with learning difficulties - Toolbar functions include options for changing colours and colour contrasts between background and foreground, the spacing between words, and stripping out distracting graphics. Providing information in clear language - We provide text to speech in 35 languages, on-screen translation in 100 languages, and inbuilt spellcheck and thesaurus functions. Making your website easier to navigate - Keyboard accessibility means users can navigate interactive elements more easily. Providing accessible publications - Our DocReader means PDF documents on your webpage are also accessible. What the Data Says Our software is already installed on over 3500 websites, and every day we help thousands of internet users to enjoy accessible and inclusive online journeys. Our most recent 12-month stats show that: We supported over 2.2 million users Over 12 million pages were accessed with the Recite Me toolbar enabled Our accessibility features were used over 35 million times The Next Steps for Unions Embracing disability can lead to many benefits for businesses, and the job of unions is to push for equality and fairness across the workforce. In modern-day operations, this means advocating for online inclusion as well as physical inclusion. By choosing not to make websites accessible, unions are creating access barriers to the very people many people who need help the most. We recommend unions take following the steps below to ensure web content is fully accessible to everyone: Ensure your website build is up to date for accessibility best practices and the relevant legal requirements. Develop a thorough understanding of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Look into assistive technology solutions like the Recite Me toolbar that combine accessibility and usability to create an inclusive online experience for all users. Encourage all businesses with union members to follow the same steps to increase inclusion and online accessibility. You can find out more about organisations that use Recite Me software on our sector pages. You can also speak to our team or book a demonstration of our assistive toolbar.

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The Role of HR in Diversity & Inclusion

16 Aug 2021 | news

Having launched in 2010, Derwent Facilities Management is an industry leader in providing facilities and management services across a broad spectrum of sectors, including education, healthcare, local authority, commercial, and private clients. As a business, Derwent fm prides itself on a transparent and honest business approach, and the team believes in clear definitions and inclusion for all. As an operator of student accommodation up and down the country, Derwent fm is an interesting case study because there are significant crossovers between many different industry sectors where accessibility and inclusion are essential - namely HR, education, and social housing. Lately, we reached out to Alex Greenwood, Head of People and Culture at Derwent fm, about her thoughts on the link between HR teams and diversity and inclusion factors. Alex has been a specialist in building positive cultures within organisations for over 20 years, and is certified in EQi2 (the world's most validated EQ assessment) and 360-degree feedback. Why should those in HR job roles support diversity and inclusion? HR professionals are integral to key parts of businesses. They support recruitment, advertising, interviewing, onboarding, training, and talent management. They are also heavily involved in restructures, reviewing workforce changes, designing policies and procedures, and advising on complex employee relation issues. A skilled and knowledgeable HR team within diversity and inclusion is essential to support the overall business plan. Diversity and Inclusion should be the golden thread for an HR team, in supporting the workforce to be the best it can be to enhance company performance. Why is it important to Derwent fm to provide an inclusive online experience? There are many strands to our Inclusion Strategy, one being the online experiences of our people and our customers. Our company is nationwide, and while we must always keep our business objective in mind, we are passionate about creating a culture where colleagues feel truly included whilst also providing customer excellence. Therefore, our approach for diversity and inclusion must include our HR processes as well as the service we provide to our customers. Why Recite Me? Investing in the Recite Me accessibility toolbar further demonstrates our commitment to Diversity and Inclusion. These are the key reasons we invested in the Recite Me toolbar - for both our internal colleague intranet and also for our external company website: In 2019, we introduced our colleague intranet to improve our communication across the company. We analysed our people data in conjunction with the intranet engagement ratings. A significant proportion of our colleagues originate from outside the UK, and their first language is not English. From a customer perspective, we have a diverse number of customers worldwide who visit our company website to engage with our services. Therefore, having an inclusive online approach has to be high on our agenda. We also considered learning difficulties that our online audience may encounter because we want to provide an accessible experience for a diverse range of people. What is your feedback on the toolbar so far? What I love about the Recite Me toolbar is the range of tools it provides. It supports people with a wide range of disabilities, including dyslexia, autism, partial vision etc. The accessibility software gives people choices to consume online information in a tailored way, enhancing their experience by allowing them to understand and navigate our services better.

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Accessibility Tools Take Off at Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority

13 Aug 2021 | news

Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority (LNAA) takes accessible travel to the next level with Recite Me online assistive technology. Passengers with a diverse range of needs and abilities can choose from a variety of online support tools to reduce the stress of air travel on FlyABE.com. With passenger traffic of 911,970 in 2019, the LNAA located in Pennsylvania, US, aims to be the best regional airport system in North America by providing an unmatched experience for passengers as they travel through to board their flight. This mission starts with a passenger’s initial online interaction with the LNAA. Accessibility and language support tools on the LNAA website improve access for people with disabilities, visual impairments, learning difficulties, those who speak English as a second language, or just need some extra support online. Thomas R. Stoudt, Executive Director at Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority (LNAA) commented, “Ease and convenience are the cornerstones of choosing ABE, and that extends beyond the terminal. Recite Me customises the travel experience. It’s an invaluable resource that gives everyone options for reading and understanding online content that might have made using the airport overwhelming.” The assistive toolbar on the LNAA website includes screen reading functionality, multiple reading aids, customizable styling options, and an on-demand live translation feature that boasts over 100 languages including 35 text-to-speech and styling options. To explore the customizable toolbar on the LNAA website select Accessibility & Language. For more information on how you can provide an inclusive online experience book a demo with a member of our team.

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Understanding Website Accessibility Law in Australia

13 Aug 2021 | news

Not everyone has equal and inclusive access to information online. Over 4.4 million Australians are living with a disability. Among these, 600,000 have a vision impairment, over 2 million have hearing issues, and at least 10-15% of the population have learning difficulties or are neurodiverse. Many of these citizens need additional assistance online to access the same content as everyone else. To ensure this happens, several web accessibility laws and guidelines exist. Understanding Accessibility Needs Having an inaccessible website means that users with varying disabilities cannot access your information, goods, and services. Not only is this discriminatory, but it is foolish when you consider that at least 1 in 6 people in Australia have a long term illness, impairment, or disability – and many more may have temporary disabilities that affect their ability to access your site. Specific barriers that can make your website inaccessible include: Visual impairments Deafblindness Colour blindness Dyslexia Hyperlexia Dyspraxia ADHD Speaking English as a second language Epilepsy Mobility and physical impairments With such a broad spectrum of accessibility barriers, the pitfalls of an inaccessible website are wide-ranging, but the most common problems are with websites that: Are not easy to use on a mobile Cannot be navigated using a keyboard Have inaccessible PDF forms that cannot be read using screen readers Have poor colour contrast that makes the text difficult to read Do not have adequate link descriptions or alt text descriptions on images Use images containing text that is unreadable by speech synthesiser software Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) is the primary piece of legislation that covers website accessibility and requires equal online access for people with disabilities. Section 5 of the law describes explicitly that inaccessible web content is discriminatory against people with disabilities by treating them “less favourably” than those without a disability. DDA requirements apply to all individuals and organisations that develop a website or website resource. It is expected that website owners make reasonable adjustments so that content is accessible to people with disabilities. Failure or refusal to make adjustments is viewed as discrimination. What Does the DDA Mean for You and Your Business? All government agencies and any public-facing organisations are required to follow the DDA web accessibility laws. This includes online resources related, but not limited, to: Education Employment Banking & Finance Public Transport Real Estate & Rentals Sport Telecommunications Entertainment Recreation Commonwealth Programs Since January 2018, all federal agencies and contractors have also been expected to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) accessibility Level AA. Web accessibility laws have been bolstered over the years due to updates, amendments, and new treaties and strategies, including: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - Under convention regulations, state parties must ensure that accessible formats and appropriate technologies are adopted to ensure those with disabilities can seek and receive information online. The National Transition Strategy - The primary policy that focussed on web accessibility in terms of the implementation of, and continued compliance with, the WCAG 2.0. The implementation of web accessibility law tends to begin with government and public service websites, before expanding to cover more private sector organisations. However, even if you don’t think current legislation affects your business, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put the same amount of effort into making your website accessible to as many users as possible. Making your website accessible is the right thing to do, and the benefits include enhanced brand reputation, increased market share and profit, and reduced legal risk. How to Comply with the DDA The key for website owners is to adopt a design and layout that is clear enough so that most people can use it, while also supporting those who need to make adaptions. Many people assume this process would be complicated and costly, but that is generally not the case. “Many of the most common accessibility issues making sites difficult or impossible to use in a non-traditional way can be easily fixed.” Sam Stemler, web accessibility author Under the DDA, companies must make reasonable adjustments to their websites to make them more inclusive. The four cornerstones of the guidelines for compliance require websites to be: Perceivable – Accommodating for various sensory differences in vision, sound, and touch so that users can comprehend and consume web content. Operable – User interface and navigation components on a website must be usable by all. Understandable – Both website information and the operation of the user interface itself must be consistent and coherent. Robust – The website must be standards compliant and function using all applicable technologies, including assistive software. Assistive Technology Solutions Software solutions like the Recite Me assistive toolbar help websites to be inclusive through a suite of customisable accessibility and language options. When equipped with Recite Me software, websites become instantly accessible, readable, and much easier to understand. Our software has been designed with WCAG principles at the core of the product. However, our goal is to do much more than simply ‘check the box’ on compliance for reasonable adjustments. Recite Me is about creating a totally inclusive digital environment, where users can: Personalise font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read. This is beneficial to readers who have dyslexia, dyspraxia, colour blindness, or decreased vision in general. Download content as an audio file, which is excellent for those with vision problems. Access text to speak functions in 35 different languages, which is beneficial for all site visitors with English literacy issues. The text can be read aloud at varying speeds with either a male or female voice, which is great for autistic users too. Utilise the screen mask and ruler, allowing those with ADHD and other attention disorders to focus rather than being distracted by other content on the page. Convert text content into over 100 different on-screen languages. Ideal for those for whom English is not their first language. Make use of the toolbar’s built-in dictionary and thesaurus to check word definitions. This is particularly important for users with conditions like hyperlexia, who can read words but not necessarily understand their meaning. Switch to “text-only” mode. This feature is favoured by those with conditions like Epilepsy, as they can strip away any media or graphics that may cause a seizure. Want to Know More? Are you confused by any of the legal jargon and terms? Or unsure whether your website meets the DDA criteria for compliance? Feel free to contact our team for more advice and information. You can also schedule a demonstration of our toolbar in action if you’d like to get a better idea of how it works and how it can help you attain a more perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust online experience. Article Data Sources: Australian Network on Disability, Learning Difficulties Australia, Australian Government Department of Health.

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Understanding Online Inclusion: A Guide for Human Resource Teams

09 Aug 2021 | news

In today’s increasingly global workplace, diversity and inclusion factors - including website accessibility - are vital components of a healthy organisational culture. HR teams are often the unsung heroes of a company’s growth and success. After all, it’s their job to create a diverse team whose cumulative experiences and perspectives translate into a competitive advantage. Effective HR professionals purposefully focus on creating an inclusive environment to motivate staff, reduce absenteeism, and increase productivity levels while simultaneously ensuring the best practices for attracting, recruiting, developing, and retaining the best employees. Why HR Roles are Paramount to Support Diversity and Inclusion As a strategy in its own right, diversity empowers organisational culture and drives the company forward. By drawing from the widest pool of talent available, HR departments can: Acquire high-quality staff Discover new skill sets Find and leverage untapped opportunities Identify new trends Improve innovation Create equal opportunities Demonstrate fairness Improve staff morale Increase revenue and profits “HR professionals are integral to key parts of businesses. An HR team that is skilled and knowledgeable about diversity and inclusion is essential to support the overall business plan. Diversity and Inclusion should be the golden thread for HR teams in supporting the workforce to be the best it can be and enhance company performance.” Alex Greenwood, Head of People and Culture at Derwent Students Disability and Diversity The key for HR professionals is to alter their perceptions of disability as a factor in their diversity and inclusion policies. Traditionally, physical disabilities have always been included in D&I considerations along with gender, race, sexual orientation, cultural background, age, etc. However, there is a long list of none physical conditions that put users at a digital disadvantage. We call these hidden disabilities, and examples include vision problems, neurological differences, cognitive impairments, language issues, and learning difficulties. Online Barriers Applicants and employees with hidden disabilities are at a significant disadvantage online as they cannot assimilate information on websites easily. Accessing content is usually challenging for one of four main reasons: People Can’t Read It - The size of text, the font used, and the colour contrast between text and background can all be barriers to reading. People Don’t Understand It – Web copy should be in simple language, run logically, and include alt tags and link descriptions. People Can’t Navigate It – Website errors like empty links and buttons, missing input labels on forms, and missing document language often make keyboard navigation impossible. People Don’t Trust It – Flashing images, videos, or image carousels can be triggers. Without making adjustments for this, businesses fail to: Tap into the broadest talent pool available Provide an inclusive candidate journey Support employees with the tools they need to excel Allow staff to learn and grow to their full potential Facts and Stats More often than not, hidden disabilities have zero effect on a candidate or employee’s ability to perform. In fact, in many cases, supporting people with a disability can be a competitive advantage. “According to Accenture’s 2018 study, The Disability Inclusion Advantage, companies that embrace best practices for employing and supporting people with disabilities outperform their peers with higher revenue (28%) and profit margin (30%).” John Stern, Accessibility Advocate To get an idea of the scale of the number of people affected, let’s look at some global statistics. 2.2 billion people suffer from visual impairments On average, around 20% of the population has a learning difficulty Approximately 15% of the population is neurodiverse Millions of people speak English as a second language About 2% of the population is Autistic Over 1 in every hundred people have epilepsy How You Can Help Adopting inclusive web design principles and ensuring your social media profiles are accessible is a good start. Another proven way of supporting people online is by utilising assistive technology. Assistive software allows adaptions that account for varied digital access barriers. The Recite Me assistive toolbar is already used by hundreds of companies to support diversity in the workplace. Our software provides a variety of tools that allow users to create a fully customisable experience by: • Personalising font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read. • Utilising the mask screen tool, which isolates parts of the page to help with focus. • Using the ruler tool to make reading easier. • Downloading content as an audio file as an alternative to reading. • Converting page content into over 100 different on-screen languages. • Having the page read aloud in a choice of 35 different languages. • Customising PDF documents and have them read aloud or translated. Recite Me Data Our software is already installed on over 3500 websites, and every day we help thousands of internet users to enjoy accessible and inclusive online journeys. In the careers sector specifically, our most recent stats over 12 months show that: Our toolbar was launched over 96,000 times Nearly 400,000 careers pages were accessed with the Recite Me toolbar enabled Our accessibility features were used nearly one million times If you’d like to know more about how assistive technology can help make your business more inclusive, you can contact our team or request a demonstration. Industry Leaders We are proud to work with numerous organisations in the HR and recruitment sector already, including: Dunelm TTP Recruitment SNC Lavalin The Searchologist Vertus Partners Morson Group Rullion The Clear Company Champions for Change The Clear Company works with a wide range of clients to allow unseen talent to shine. Established in 2003 with a mission to remove inclusion barriers and create diverse workplaces, they are now a recognised leader in inclusive recruitment and talent management. "HR and people teams are pivotal to the D&I journey within organisations, although ultimately leaders must be accountable. Therefore, it is key that HR teams have the skills, knowledge, and capability to advance D&I priorities in the same way that HR professionals can progress in reward, recruitment, and other areas of specialism. One aspect of inclusion that is often overlooked is that of digital inclusion. With so many HR teams relying on access to systems to self-serve on HR matters, receive communications and performance reviews, it is more critical than ever that accessibility is a key pillar of any D&I plan." Jenny Hinde, Executive Director, The Clear Company 5 Steps to a Digitally Inclusive Workplace Here’s our 5 step process to guide you along the path to inclusion. 1. Integrate D&I into Your Core Values Ensure your organisation complies with disability discrimination laws Gather employee feedback regularly Make sure that employees with disabilities have a say in decision-making processes 2. Become Disability Confident Employer Disability Confident schemes exist to help employers be more inclusive and explore the benefits of employing disabled people. Over 20,000 forward-thinking companies are currently registered as Disability Confident – Recite Me being one of them, of course. 3. Provide an Inclusive Candidate Journey To tap into the biggest pool of talent, you need an inclusive recruitment process. We invite you to download our guide to accessible online recruitment, compiled in partnership with Guidant Global. 4. Use Assistive Technology Accessibility software allows disabled people to access your website and job vacancies in the way that works best for them. Many organisations also use accessibility software on internal systems like intranets and learning platforms to ensure company information is fully accessible and inclusive to their employees. 5. Seek Advice Committing to a more inclusive organisation is a significant step forward. But we know it can be confusing and intimidating at times. Don’t panic, though, as some fantastic companies specialise in supporting businesses to develop more inclusive practices within the workplace. Here are some examples: Inclusive Employers - The UK's first and leading membership organisation supporting businesses to develop more inclusive practices within the workplace. RIDI – a non-profit initiative to create disability confident recruiters and help to reduce the disability employment gap. Verdica – A recruitment agency specialising in diversity and inclusion. Article Sources: WHO, United Nations, CDC

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The Importance of Inclusive Recruitment with Paul Smith, from Includability

04 Aug 2021 | news

We caught up with Paul Smith, Founder of Includability, to discuss the importance of inclusive recruitment. With over 13 years of experience in the industry, Paul is an expert! Includability is on a mission to provide a platform for employers with a commitment to treating people fairly and to offer job seekers a fully accessible application process. As part of their mission to offer applicants an inclusive candidate journey Includability have implemented the Recite Me Assistive Toolbar on their website. This provides applicants with a variety of tools to customise their online experience to choose how they navigate the website and how they consume the content. Why is Inclusive Recruitment Important? “It is not just important, it’s vital for every business. Companies that do have an inclusive recruitment process will almost certainly create an environment with happier employees, the teams they build will be stronger and there is a good possibility that they will gain an advantage on their competitors. A fully inclusive recruitment process enables an organisation to widen the gate when it comes to attracting job seekers – that is why Includability is raising expectation and accountability where the only thing that matters is someone’s ability to do the job. There are many things that companies should consider, including: Website accessibility, diverse interview panels, educating employees and staff in management roles, robust communication across the business, regularly reviewing all recruitment processes and engaging with external consultants to seek continual improvement.” How does the Recite Me Assistive Toolbar make a Difference? “All too often, companies who are trying to build an inclusive process simply fall at the first hurdle because their job advert and website is inaccessible. By partnering with ReciteMe, we know that every person visiting our site can make the necessary adjustments that best suit their individual needs. Understanding where those pitfalls are and putting a strategy in place to remove them, organisations like Includability will benefit by attracting the best candidate for the role, not simply the best candidate who was able to apply for the position. ReciteMe enables us to do just that.” Find out more With modern recruitment processes relying so heavily on digital technology there is no better time to find out more about inclusive online recruitment. Web accessibility technology helps you to support a diverse range of applicants. The features of our accessibility toolbar can either be used individually or combined to make multiple adjustments for ultimate ease of use. Users can personalise font size, type and colour, use the ruler, convert the page content into over 100 different languages and much more. If you would like to speak to one of the team about booking a demonstration of our assistive toolbar or would like any further information, please contact us, and we’ll be happy to assist you. Visit Includability.co.uk to find out more about a new standard of job board, how they support job seekers and how to become an Includability Employer through a 5-star verification process which increases employer accountability.

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Why Utility Companies Need to Provide An Inclusive Online Experience

02 Aug 2021 | news

Every home needs access to gas, water, and electricity. Fact. Internet usage skyrocketed throughout 2020 and 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Data Reportal, there were 22.82 million internet users in Australia in January 2021, an increase of over 513,000 since January 2020. This is not a surprising statistic. With limited opportunities to leave the house, customers were pushed online to conduct many day-to-day tasks, including contacting utility providers, booking installations, and paying bills. Hidden Disabilities Disabilities are not always visible. In the past couple of decades, businesses have made tremendous leaps in making their premises more accessible to those with physical disabilities. However, in the modern-day climate, efforts now need to be made to ensure equal access is available online too. This involves making adjustments for internet users with a range of hidden disabilities like cognitive and neurological disorders, visual impairments, and language barriers. Some examples include: Dyslexia Hyperlexia Dyspraxia ADHD Autism Epilepsy Deafblindness Colour blindness Speaking/reading English as a second language You may be thinking this is not such a big deal. If brick and mortar customer service outlets are closed, people can just go online for the information and services they need, right? Wrong. Utility services are not readily available to all because many of our most vulnerable citizens face significant barriers when accessing information online. Our Aging Population Australia is home to almost 4 million people aged 65 years or over, and the aged are some of the most vulnerable when it comes to accessing utility services. As the aging population increases, so does the overall percentage of people with disabilities, visual impairments, and hearing loss. Often, multiple accessibility adjustments are required to support the elderly online because many already struggle with a hidden disability combined with the general barriers brought on by old age. Helping Customers in Vulnerable Circumstances We’ve outlined in previous articles why we believe web accessibility is a basic human right, and this is particularly important when it comes to vital services like access to gas, water, and electricity. All of us have struggled with the realities of Covid-19 in some way or another. So imagine how scary and frustrating it must be to desperately need information about essential services for your home, but not be able to access it - or act on it once you have it. Customers who lack the necessary tools to access or adequately understand information online cannot communicate with suppliers via the internet. With other lines of communications blocked or delayed, it is therefore critical that websites are accessible. “The technology of consumer engagement is changing and moving online more and more. As a result, vulnerable customers need to be supported.” Recite Me Founder and CEO Ross Linnett The Impacts for Utility Providers There are over 30 electricity and gas suppliers to choose from in Australia. That amount of choice can feel overwhelming, and the internet remains an essential source for information where people can research and compare their options. Therefore, information and communication services must be available to all internet users so that everyone can address their basic human needs for gas, water, and electricity. Website accessibility is the right thing to do. But there is a well-established business case for embracing an inclusive too. Making your website inclusive opens up an extra 18% of the market share, as 1 in 6 people in Australia have increased online access needs. Optimising Self-Serving Accounts Throughout 2020 and 2021, customer service teams have been inundated with calls. Wait times have been at an all-time high, with consumers on the end of the phone not knowing if their call will be answered in 5 minutes, 5 hours, or not at all. Improving web accessibility and providing more practical and efficient ways for customers to communicate online can help avoid situations like this. Plus, it not only improves customer service but uses employee time more effectively. Price Comparison Sites Inequality in access to information leads to inequality in access to services, which can have significant financial impacts on the individuals concerned. So it’s 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. Make Your Website Inclusive Recite Me is here to help businesses communicate information more effectively by making websites accessible and inclusive of all users. With the Recite Me assistive toolbar installed on your website, those with sight loss, cognitive impairments, learning difficulties, and attention disorders can access your website in the way best suited to their individual requirements. It also accounts for varied linguistic needs. Users can: Personalise font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read. Download content as an audio file as an alternative to reading. Access text to speak functions in 35 different languages. Have text read aloud at varying speeds. Utilise a screen mask and ruler for better focus. Convert text into over 100 different on-screen languages. Make use of the toolbar’s built-in dictionary and thesaurus. Switch to “text-only” mode to strip away graphics and page clutter. How Inclusive Websites Help Utility Providers Over the 12 months, Recite Me made thousands of utility website pages accessible. Our utility sector data for 2020 demonstrates that: The Recite Me assistive toolbar was launched 233,000 times. Over 944,000 utility-related web pages were viewed using the toolbar. Our software translated over 7 million pieces of content into multiple different languages. Over 1.6 million people utilised the screen reader to have web content read aloud. Over 86,000 individual styling changes were made by users accessing utility websites. We invite all energy suppliers and utility comparison websites to take positive steps and make their websites more inclusive using assistive technology. "Recite Me was the easy choice for Cadent not only because it was straightforward to implement but because it is so user-friendly for our customers and has such a broad range of features to support accessibility. We particularly like how an online customer can save their preferences, meaning that when they return to our pages they continue to have a personalised and hassle-free experience. " Jo Giles, Customer Safeguarding Manager, Cadent Join us in making the online world a more inclusive place for everyone. Contact us today to find out more about making your website accessible with Recite Me assistive technology.

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National Center for Learning Disabilities

27 Jul 2021 | case-study

The NCLD is a not-for-profit organisation that works to improve the lives of the 1 in 5 children and adults in the US with learning and attention issues. The NCLD was founded in 1977 as the Foundation for Children with Learning Disabilities and since has worked tirelessly to create an equal society for all, providing the skills needed to succeed in school, at work, and in life.

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Assistive Technology: Who Needs It?

27 Jul 2021 | news

On an individual level, the short answer is about 20% of the population. That equates to a pretty staggering number – over 13 million people in the UK, over 5 million people in Australia, and over 65 million in the US, for example. The internet can be a minefield for those with access barriers. On any given website, an access barrier can be any element of the design or formatting that prevents users from reading and understanding the content. The people who are most susceptible to access barriers are those who struggle with: Decreased vision Learning difficulties Literacy Language/linguistic problems Attention disorders Physical disabilities Assistive technology provides solutions and support for all of these, making the online world more inclusive and an equal playing field for everyone. So…Why Don’t ALL Companies Want to Provide Assistive Technology for Their Users? A fair question, given the possibility of adding to your market share with millions of new website visitors and customers. No matter what sector your organisation sits in, ignoring 20% of the market is simply not good for business. Plus, there are other benefits to being inclusive, such as reduced legal risk and improved brand reputation. The two most common objections we hear from prospective clients are that “Our site users don’t need it” or “Those who need it will have their own technology already”. Yet, we know from experience that neither of these statements is true. Busting Accessibility Myths The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that only 1 in 10 people have access to the assistive technology they need. For example, over 200 million people with low vision do not have access to assistive products to support them. “Assistive technology enables people to live healthy, productive, independent, and dignified lives, and to participate in education, the labour market and civic life. Without assistive technology, people are often excluded, isolated, and locked into poverty, thereby increasing the impact of disability on a person, their family, and society.” WHO, 2021 So, onwards to myth busting… 1. “Our Site Users Don’t Need It” Wrong! It’s a common reaction, mainly because many of the conditions that make websites inaccessible fall into the category of ‘hidden disabilities’. Often, these conditions are kept purposefully hidden for fear of drawing unwarranted attention or being discriminated against. This can be particularly true in the workplace environment. Did you know? … It’s estimated that at least 15% of the population is neurodiverse! Let’s take dyspraxia as an example, as many people haven’t even heard of it. It’s a condition that affects around 10% of the population, and at least 3-4% in a significant way. So the chances are that within your website user base, there will absolutely be individuals with dyspraxia who need to be supported. The same can be said of Dyslexia, Hyperlexia, and a myriad of other unseen conditions that impact web accessibility. So rest assured, your users DO need assistive technology! A side note to employers: The average cost of adjusting for employee accessibility is typically just a few hundred pounds/dollars. Plus, data shows that employees with disabilities take less time off and tend to stay with companies for longer. So any outlay is almost certainly recouped many times over. 2. “Those Who Need It Will Have Their Own Technology Already” Wrong again! Put simply, if people were able to - and preferred to - use their own assistive technology, we wouldn’t have seen the incredible increase in subscription coupled with the phenomenal rise in usage of the Recite Me toolbar over the last calendar year: Over 1.8 million unique users. Over 10 million pages viewed with Recite Me enabled. Over 47 million clicks on the Recite Me toolbar to use features like our screen reader, translation services, and styling features. Website users are deterred from using personal assistive technology tools for many reasons, including: Cost - Those with disabilities tend to be more financially vulnerable, and many simply can’t afford the technology. For example, a single copy of JAWS (a computer screen reader program that assists the visually impaired) costs over AUD1500 without updates. From an ethical standpoint, should someone with a disability have to pay out of their own pocket to get the same access to information, services, and employment as everyone else? That’s a hard no from us! Usability - Individual assistive technology (such as JAWS) will work on only the device on which it is installed. With most people now moving between pc, mobile, and tablet devices regularly, this is incredibly restrictive. Fun Fact: Recite Me began because our CEO, Ross Linnett, purchased assistive technology to help with his dyslexia, but was frustrated it would only work on one machine. Functionality - Unlike most other assistive tools, Recite Me remembers each individual user's preferences. So when they return to your site or any other site that hosts Recite Me, the toolbar will launch with personal preferences already installed, thus providing continuity of user experience. Availability – Many internet users, especially older people, are simply unaware that solutions are available. “I think I faced more challenges when I was younger, as there wasn't the technology like today. I've just tried out the Recite Me toolbar to see how this would work for me, and it's very easy to use. What I particularly like about it, is that I can scroll over text and the words are read back to me, also you can change the language to suit your needs - that really stands out for me because no website that I know of has this feature. Michael McEwan, Freelance Journalist What Kinds of Business is Recite Me Good for? Every type of company and organisation can benefit from Recite Me assistive technology. We work with businesses across all sectors, including e-commerce, finance, public sector, technology, education, utilities, transport, leisure and entertainment, sports, recruitment, and construction. Due to the very nature of our product, Recite Me is also very popular in the health and charity sectors. There are so many examples of people with disabilities reporting the vital need for assistive technology at a content level, that our technology has been assessed and tested by many disabled user groups before installment. As a result, we work directly with many disability-specific charities that have adopted our technology after gathering extensive user feedback. You can see a complete list of company testimonials here. What Recite Me Users Say One of our prospective clients commissioned Scope, a well-known disability charity, to carry out user testing on our toolbar. All participants said they would use the tool again and that they’d be more likely to use a website again if they knew that their accessibility needs were accommodated. Here are some of the user comments and feedback… “It doesn’t strain or hurt my eyes when I read now.” “It’s remembered my settings across different sites, I really like this” “It shows that they’ve given accessibility some thought, and that goes a long way with me.” “Being able to change the background to black is a real bonus for me - I get dry eyes, so this extends the amount of time I can stay online.” “If a place I’m planning to visit has an accessible website, I think they are more likely to be accessible when I get there.” The Time for Accessibility is Now! The demand for accessible and inclusive websites has never been greater, so goal-setting for inclusion should be at the top of your company’s to-do list. Adopting an inclusive approach to your online services before your competitors will solidify your position as a market leader – and improve profits, customer service, and employee satisfaction at the same time. Recite Me is quick and easy to implement on your website and can usually be installed in under an hour. Join the hundreds of companies who have already adopted our inclusive software by contacting our team for more information, or by booking a toolbar demonstration. Article Data Sources: United Nations, World Health Organisation (WHO), Australian Network on Disability, Learning Difficulties Australia, Australian Government Department of Health.

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