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Rezoomo collaborative webinar Join Recite Me's Chief Revenue Officer Manager, Darryn Hall, Rezoomo CEO and Co-Founder Cathal Doorley and Jim Berrisford, the Chief Commercial Officer at Rezoomo as they discuss how to remove online barriers to create an inclusive online candidate journey. Topics will cover: What is inclusive recruitment? Learning and understanding your audience and the options you should make available for diverse groups How do you create an inclusive candidate experience online How to use Recite Me with Rezoomo
In the ever-changing landscape of 2020, the majority of businesses and industries in the US have faced numerous challenges in maintaining operations, and the education sector has been in particular focus of late. The COVID-19 pandemic forced closures in all 50 states, meaning a sharp shift to remote learning. Schools and colleges scrambled to put systems in place for online access, and parents had to quickly adapt to the role of being home teachers while also balancing their own jobs and other responsibilities. With the school year now complete, pressure has been reduced, but there is still an ongoing debate about the correct steps to take going forward. Many states are planning to re-open in the fall, but with the start of the new school term still weeks away and the pandemic still very much at the forefront of daily American life, there is still room for change and many questions remain about the practicalities, effectiveness, and implications of an ongoing period of remote learning. Remote Learning – The Challenges Remote learning is not a new concept, and various education establishments like the American Open University and an array of online chartered schools have been offering e-learning courses for decades already. However, there is a big difference between offering pre-planned accredited courses and the reality of moving America’s 56 million school-age students onto online learning platforms virtually overnight. In addition to the practicalities of such an abrupt change, it is also difficult to provide equal access and the same level of inclusion online, compared to in-person teaching. There are millions of disabled children in America who rely on individualized instruction and a range of additional educational support and services afforded to them by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These provisions are much more difficult to provide in a remote learning environment than in person. Accessibility Barriers to Remote Learning The simple act of making information available doesn’t make it accessible to all, especially when you consider that: There are nearly 7 million disabled students in the US. Autistic students make up 10% of the nation’s disabled school children. Learning disorders affect at least 1 in 10 school children. Approximately one in six American children aged between 3 and 17 have one or more developmental disabilities. One in every five children has attention issues. At least 10% of all school children are dyslexic. Some students learn in a second language. All of these students are disadvantaged and marginalized in different ways in a remote learning environment, as it is virtually impossible for any online learning portal to accommodate unilaterally for the broad spectrum of barriers that face students. That’s where assistive technology can help. Using Assistive Software to Promote Inclusion At Recite Me, we are firm believers that children need to be supported from a young age and that every stage of education should be inclusive. This is more important in 2020 than ever, as all students need to be able to access information easily online. Our unique assistive toolbar is an accessibility solution that allows students to customize a website in the way that works best for them, and in doing so compensates for numerous access barriers including: Visual impairments Deafblindness Color blindness Dyslexia Hyperlexia Dyspraxia Autism ADHD Speaking English as a second language Epilepsy Mobility and physical impairments How Does It Work? The Recite Me assistive toolbar comprises a number of accessibility features that can either be used individually or combined to make multiple adjustments for ultimate ease of use. Users can: Personalize font size, type, and color options to make each web page easier to read. Utilize the mask screen tool, which isolates parts of the page to help with focus. Use the ruler tool to make reading easier. Download content as an audio file as an alternative to reading. Convert page content into over 100 different on-screen languages. Have the page read aloud in a choice of 35 different languages. Customize PDF documents and have them read aloud or translated. The Benefits: A Case Study The University of London was one of the first educational institutions to embed the Recite Me toolbar onto their website. Although this is a higher education facility and not directly representative of the American school-age population, in just 6 months the engagement and interaction with the toolbar was significant: 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 customizations In 2019 the University of London had nearly 227,000 students. If we equate this to the American school-age population, projected results if all remote learning portals were to use accessibility software would be: Over 4,043,200 unique users 10,640,000 toolbar launches 32,480,000 features used 7,616,000 pieces of content translated 23,912,000 pieces of content read aloud 2,688,000 styling customizations Staggering, isn’t it?! Plus, with only 21% of the student population at the University of London being remote learners, it is likely that the projected figures for American students would, in fact, be much higher than the ones quoted here. With this in mind, we encourage all those in the education sector to help young learners by ensuring online classes and study materials are as inclusive as possible. Find Out More By working together to improve access to remote learning resources, we can make a real difference and help education organizations to become truly accessible to all students in 2020 and beyond. We invite you to read some of our case studies, and if you’d like to know more about how our assistive technology can help your students you can book a demo of the Recite Me assistive toolbar by contacting our team.
Recognising that Meningitis Now doesn’t discriminate and that there are real inequalities in access to vaccines and disease information in the UK, made the decision to deploy Recite a ’no-brainer’. Meningitis Now strives to support people who have experienced or are concerned about meningitis, both in person and through our digital resources. Recite Me simply opens up the opportunity for services, information and help to be accessed by a much broader range of people including those where English isn’t their first language and where conditions such as dyslexia and visual impairment exist. In the UK one in five people have some form of disability and accessibility online is becoming increasingly important, a fact highlighted during the coronavirus pandemic. The outcomes of meningitis are not always visible and many that contract the disease could experience a range of life-changing after-effects including, learning changes, hearing loss, and sight problems. All of which can impact a person's ability to access, experience and benefit from the wide range of information, support and help that resides on the charity’s website. The Recite Me accessibility toolbar provides visitors to the Meningitis Now website with a unique range of features to support their visit. To create the perfect experience everyone will be able to customise their website with the support of, text to speech functionalities with 35 different voice types, reading aids including ruler and screen mask, translation tools with over 100 languages, and customisable styling options, such as text size, font and background colours. David Clifford, Digital Marketing Manager at Meningitis Now commented, “We are deeply aware of the inequalities that exist in our healthcare system in the UK and the fact that lifesaving vaccine uptake is lower in communities where language, economic and cultural differences exist. We believe everyone should be able to access our information and services barrier-free and Recite Me simply helps us deliver this in a way that is straight forward for the user and, for a charity that doesn’t receive government funding, in a cost-effective manner.”
From local support groups to a national charity, Meningitis Now is proud of everything they have achieved in their 30 years history. Meningitis Now was the first meningitis patient group in the world, founders of the meningitis movement and is the only charity dedicated to fighting meningitis in the UK. They have invested over £12.5m in kick-starting the development and introduction of five lifesaving meningitis vaccines and have fought tirelessly to save lives through meningitis awareness campaigns and activity. The charity also offers vital support and help to those who have experienced meningitis, helping them to rebuild their lives.
Every company wants their website to attract as much traffic and stimulate as many sales as possible. However, there are very few businesses that follow all the necessary steps to ensure their website can be used by everyone. Therefore, self-imposed barriers are formed that prevent companies from reaching their full potential and meeting their own goals and targets. The team at Recite Me are here to help businesses overcome those barriers through ensuring inclusion online. Online accessibility is a hot topic at the moment, especially as so many web users are confined to their homes in lockdown or quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has become more important than ever that online information can be understood by everyone, and the demand for accessible and inclusive websites has never been greater – and it’s important to note here that ‘accessible’ and ‘inclusive’ are two different factors. In previous articles, we’ve discussed why web accessibility is important to your business and the pitfalls of having a non-inclusive website from numerous perspectives, be it financial, ethical, or legal. Yet there are still some grey areas when it comes to what the key terms actually mean, what kind of changes are required, what your responsibilities are in terms of what you have to do to become accessible, and the additional factors to consider for things you should do to achieve maximum inclusion... Accessibility A couple of months ago our Recite Me sales manager, Martin Robertson, penned an article about accessibility and what the term means to him, both as a marketer and as an individual. What had become clear to Martin, is that there is a distinct gap in people’s understanding of what it means to be accessible, and the difference between offering accessibility and being inclusive. The key factors to consider in making a website accessible are: 1. Your Website Build Most web designers these days can coach businesses on the best practices for a build that will increase traffic and conversions through making content more accessible. There are many factors to consider, a few key examples being: Using a content management system that supports accessibility Using headings correctly to structure your content Including alt text for all images Giving descriptive names to your links Being mindful of colour use and colour contrasts Ensuring forms are designed for accessibility Being keyboard friendly Abiding by these principles will make the content of your website easier to read, focus on, and understand, plus accommodate for those with vision problems, physical disabilities, and cognitive impairments. 2. Compliance with The World Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) The World Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide minimum standards that all business globally should adhere to. These guidelines define how content should be made more accessible to those with disabilities, and they incorporate principles for labels, headings, colour, colour contrast, text size, and navigation, among other factors. There are 3 levels of conformance: WCAG A – The most basic level of accessibility, comprising 25 criteria that should be easy to achieve without much impact on your website design or structure. WCAG AA - This is the level that most development teams aim to meet, and includes an additional 13 criteria compared to WCAG A. WCAG AA compliance is legally required for certain sites, and this is the level that is typically referred to when discussing ‘making a website accessible’. WCAG AAA – The gold standard of accessibility guideline compliance, with an additional 10 criteria above WCGA AA. 3. Legal requirements It is expected by law that businesses and service providers do not treat those with disabilities less favourably. So to avoid lawsuits companies are required to adhere to national and international standards and regulations. The ones that apply to your business will depend on where your company is based, but examples include: The Equality Act of 2010 (UK) The European Accessibility Act (Europe) The Americans with Disabilities Act (USA) Accessibility + Usability = Inclusion So you’ve invested the time, energy, and money into constructing an accessible website and ensuring compliance to WCAG guidelines and any applicable laws in your region. Job done, right? Wrong! All you’ve done are the things you have to do. All of these will make your website more accessible, but won’t necessarily make it inclusive. “The accessibility guidelines are there to guide us in making websites more accessible. But they aren’t the be-all and end-all of accessibility.” Nicola Steenhout, a prominent speaker and consultant in the inclusion, accessibility, and disability field This is exactly the gap in understanding that Martin identified. Accessibility compliance alone does not enable users to create a fully customisable experience. What makes a website truly inclusive is giving people as many choices as possible so they can customise your site and consume the information in a way that is personalised and tailored to their own individual needs. It is in this area of advocating accessibility, but also promoting inclusion at a much higher level, in which Recite Me sits - or as Martin now calls it more specifically, ‘Accesseyclusion’! The Recite Me assistive toolbar promotes inclusivity by allowing those with sight loss, cognitive impairments, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, and varying linguistic needs to access your website in a way that is best suited to them. Recite Me toolbar functions include: Fully customisable text size, font, and spacing. The ability to change text colour and background colour contrasts. A screen mask to provide colour tinting and block visual clutter. Additional reading aids such as an on-screen ruler and text-only mode. Text-to-speech functions in 35 languages. A real-time translation feature catering to over 100 languages. These functions account for singular adjustments and also more complex scenarios where consumers may require multiple adjustments for ease of use. By facilitating this, the Recite Me toolbar is able to remove barriers and allow for equal access, thus creating equal opportunities in the online world. What our software won’t do is get you out of the work needed to make your website initially accessible, nor does it simply ‘check the box’ on compliance with guidelines and/or legal requirements. Those are your responsibilities. What Recite Me software does is take your accessible website and make it usable by all, creating a totally inclusive digital environment where users can personalise settings and consume the information in a way that suits them best. The All-Important ‘Why’ Why be inclusive rather than simply accessible, especially if you already comply with accessibility guidelines and legislation? The simple answer is because accessibility isn’t a checklist, and the minimum standards should never be a target to reach and then disregard - especially as there are no valid reasons to exclude users, and it’s not particularly difficult to avoid doing so. A more motivating answer, however, is that the spending power of those who struggle with accessibility and inclusion online is hard to ignore. After all, why wouldn’t you want to increase your audience and boost sales: The global figure for lost revenue due to accessibility equates to £2.25 trillion annually. 86% of consumers with accessibility issues said they would spend more if there were fewer barriers Become Inclusive Today! Not sure whether your website is accessible and inclusive? Confused by all the jargon and criteria for compliance? Fear not! Our team at Recite Me is on hand to guide you through the process and help you to create a barrier-free website for your users. Simply contact us for more information or to find out about scheduling a demonstration. For a limited period, we are even offering a free accessible and inclusive landing page for any business, allowing you to share COVID-19 related messages with your staff and customers during these difficult times.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) is a non-profit membership organization protecting, restoring, and conserving Maine’s environment, now and for future generations. For more than 60 years, the Natural Resources Council of Maine has been protecting the places and way of life that make Maine so special.
It’s been just a few short weeks since we celebrated Independence Day, a public holiday that carries a strong sense of national pride for American citizens. However, the celebrations this year were bittersweet for many as COVID-19 responses have meant restrictions on movement and social activities. So lots of people were feeling like they had, in fact, lost some of their independence. While this is a novel feeling for much of the population, it’s a feeling all too common among those who struggle with physical disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, and language barriers. For them, the sense of being disadvantaged and having limited independence is a part of everyday life, especially in the online world. Online barriers are brought into particularly sharp focus in times like this when access to information online is more important than ever. What’s more, there are many more people for whom this is a concern than you may think… Did You Know? 61 million people in America have a disability. Approximately 8 million adults in America suffer from attention deficit disorders. Around 14 million Americans are living with visual impairments. As many as 40 million American adults are thought to be dyslexic (although as few as 2 million may be aware of it). More than one in five people living in America speak a language other than English at home. To help recognize the challenges and needs of those in these groups, National Disability Independence Day is celebrated annually on 26th July. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) being signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, on the same day in 1990. What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and what does it mean for you? In short, the ADA legislation promotes equal opportunities for people with disabilities. This means that companies are required by law to make their businesses accessible. Accommodating those with physical disabilities is now widely expected and if you were opening a new retail store or hotel, for example, it would be a no brainer to include access ramps and an elevator to enable all customers to access all areas. However, when it comes to online accessibility, the needs of more vulnerable consumers are often neglected. This is partly due to the internet being a relatively new concept when the ADA was first put in place, and as such the guiding rules on website accessibility are not as expansive or clear as they are for physical accessibility. The current ADA guidelines state that businesses falling into the following categories must make reasonable adjustments to accommodate those with disabilities online: Any businesses with at least 15 full-time employees that operate for 20 + weeks annually (ADA Title 1). All public accommodation/service providers like hotels, banks, and public transport providers (ADA Title 3). Businesses that fail to comply could face legal action, and in the “where there’s blame, there’s a claim” culture of today’s society, the number of web accessibility lawsuits is on the rise. In 2019, 11,053 individual cases were filed through the federal court. So we recommend that all businesses take steps to improve their online accessibility to avoid legal implications. You should also check to ensure you are abiding by the principles and requirements set out in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1). These guidelines have been compiled by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and are the main international standards in making web content more accessible for people with disabilities. Cost-Benefit Analysis At Recite Me, we are passionate believers that everyone should have equal access to information online and there are numerous reasons to make your website more accessible, aside from simply the legal concerns. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do: 86% of users with access needs would spend more if there were fewer barriers. 83% of people with access needs limit their shopping to sites that they know are accessible. 71% of users leave a site that they find hard to use. Despite these statistics, fewer than 10% of businesses have plans in place to access the disability market, and an independent study discovered that 97.8% of US business homepages fail to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. If your company is one of them you’re not just risking potential legal action, you’re missing out on revenue as the total disposable income of the US working-age population with disabilities is $490 billion! If you are an employer, you could also be missing out on the opportunity to build a more talented workforce. Fun Fact: Over 50% of NASA employees are dyslexic! Promoting Independence & Inclusion It’s one thing to know you need to improve your website’s accessibility rating, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you know how. That’s where we come in! When equipped with Recite Me software, websites become instantly accessible, readable, and much easier to understand. The Recite Me assistive toolbar has multiple features that offer a broad range of solutions to accommodate various accessibility needs. The software has been designed with WCAG principles at the core of the product, but our goal is to do much more than simply ‘tick the box’ on compliance for reasonable adjustments. Recite Me is about inclusive individual experiences, where users can: Personalize font size, type, and color options to make each web page easier to read. This is beneficial to readers who have dyslexia, dyspraxia, color blindness, or decreased vision in general. Download content as an audio file, which is great 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 different speeds with either a male or female voice, which is great for autistic users too. Utilize 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, which is ideal for all of your customers 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 favored by those with conditions like Epilepsy, as they can strip away any media or graphics that may cause a seizure. Become Accessible Today! If you are not sure how the ADA legislation or WCAG guidelines affect your business or what adjustments you should be making online, then feel free to contact our team for more information or to book a demo. Recite Me is proud to be working alongside many accessibility leaders already, including: Dutchess County Government Orlando International Airport Disability rights groups in Florida, Tennessee, and Arkansas, to name just a few. Try Recite Me for Free! It is currently more important than ever that online information can be understood by everyone, and the demand for accessible and inclusive websites has never been greater. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Recite Me is offering to host a free accessible and inclusive landing page for any business, allowing you to share COVID-19 related messages with your staff and customers. Want to get involved in National Disability Independence Day 2020? The day is all about celebrating things that are possible thanks to the ADA, and getting involved is easy. Simply post any picture or video of a business that is accessible on your favored social media channel, along with the hashtags #ThanksToTheADA and/or #ADA30. Feel free to give us a shout out here at Recite Me! You can also check out the ADA calendar for events near you, or even submit your own event!
Lifeways is the UK’s leading team of support professionals for adults with diverse and complex needs living fulfilling and independent lives in the community. In 1995 Lifeways opened its first location for people with complex needs. Over 25 years later and they have grown to become the UK’s largest supported living specialist and help almost 5,000 people to live more independently.
To make Lifeways online presence as inclusive as possible, they have launched their all-new website with accessibility and language support tool, Recite Me. This accessibility support will enable staff and all website visitors to read and understand important information easily online. Across the UK, 20% of the population has some form of disability, and 1 in 7 people are neurodivergent, meaning that they can find accessing online content challenging. Everyone visiting the Lifeways website will now be able to customise their website with a number of unique features. These support tools including text-to-speech, reading support functionalities, styling options, where people can change the colour scheme as well as the texts font style, size, colour, and spacing. For people who speak English as a second language, the toolbar also includes on-demand translation into over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices. Lifeways is the UK’s largest supported living specialist and help almost 5,000 people to live more independently. They believe in equal access to opportunities and are focused on creating environments where people feel valued and comfortable – this includes making their online support and service information accessible to as many people as possible. “It is important that we make access to our services and finding information as easy as possible for all our website users and making the Recite Me tool available for users with accessibility issues, ensures that everyone will now be able to enjoy the same experience.” Deborah Jones, Head of Marketing at Lifeways
On 15 July, Recite Me will be supporting World Youth Skills Day, the key aim of which is to draw attention to the importance of equipping young people with the skills they need to gain employment. This is something that Recite Me is incredibly passionate about, especially when it comes to supporting those in the youth sector who struggle with disabilities. Yet even without considering the additional issues faced by those with learning difficulties, visual impairments, and physical disadvantages, the youth sector is already facing an uphill battle… The Youth of Today Young people play a vital role in our society both in terms of general development and the economy, and the students of today are the workforce of tomorrow. Yet, while the youth population grew by 139 million in the two-decade period between 1997 and 2017, the youth labour force shrank by a staggering 58.7 million. This is very concerning, especially in the current climate where the challenges that face us as a society are constantly evolving. In post-COVID-19 economies, young people are likely to be the sector most called upon to contribute to recovery efforts. To do so, they will need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to address current issues and confront future disruptions. So rising youth unemployment is a significant issue for all societies in the modern world: In 2016 there were 259 million young people not in employment, education, or training. By 2019 that number rose to 267 million and is projected to rise further to 273 million by 2021. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, young people were already three times as likely as adults (25 years and older) to be unemployed. Currently, more than 1 in 6 young people are unemployed. Learning Barriers In order to gain the skills, training, and knowledge they need to succeed, young people need adequate education. Even before COVID-19, distance learning had already become a common way to access education and skills training, and now with 70% of the world’s learners affected by school, college, and university closures, this trend is set to continue. “The interest in distance learning has been growing, but the real boom is still ahead. In the coming years, the education market will adapt to the needs of people born in the digital age, with an emphasis on technology.” John Unger (an author who specialises in education, business, and innovation) However, simply providing the resources for online learning does not make education accessible when you consider that: Approximately 19 million children worldwide suffer from a vision impairment that affects their ability to access online materials. In the US, approximately one in six children (about 17%) aged between 3 and 17 has one or more developmental disabilities. In the UK, there are approximately 351,000 people under 17 with a learning disability. One in every five children has attention issues. At least 10% of all school children are dyslexic. Many students learn in a second language. A recent audit of universities in the UK discovered that around 20% of all attendees are international students. Of course, these statistics only include data that is known to the authorities, and in early childhood only severe disabilities are likely to be apparent. Taking dyslexia as a specific example, a recent study has suggested that schools could be failing to diagnose up to 80% of cases, and many children who struggle in their formative years are just dismissed as being “slow learners”. This was certainly the case for our founder and CEO, Ross Linnett, who did not discover he was dyslexic until he was 22 and already a university graduate. It wasn’t until a close friend with experience of dyslexia suggested that he might have the condition that Ross was diagnosed and provided with assistive technology. It was helpful but limiting, mainly because it was based on access to just one computer. Hence the idea for Recite Me was born… Assistive Technology as a Learning Aid Ross founded Recite Me when he realized that traditional assistive technology wasn't helping him access the web as effectively as it should be in today’s digital age. He created the company with a clear vision that cloud-based software was the future for people who use multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. He asserted that if cloud-based solutions make sense for sharing files (e.g. Dropbox) and listening to music (e.g. Spotify), then this should also be the case for assistive technology. Recite Me is now a global enterprise SaaS company with clients across the UK, Europe, Australia, and America. Our unique assistive toolbar is an accessibility solution that allows users to customise a website in the way that works best for them, and in doing so compensates for a broad spectrum of barriers including: Visual impairments Deafblindness Colour blindness Dyslexia Hyperlexia Dyspraxia ADHD Speaking English as a second language Epilepsy Mobility and physical impairments A Message to Educators Access to education and skills training is vital in order to achieve economic growth and personal success, and at Recite Me we believe that children need to be supported from a young age to adequately prepare them for adult life and employment. Every stage of education should be inclusive, and all students need to be able to easily access information online. To that end, we already work with some incredible children’s organisations and educational institutions, including: Just 4 Children Children in Scotland International Schools Partnership Multiple universities, colleges, and student union bodies across the UK Children and Adult Disability and Educational Services (CADES) in the USA We encourage all businesses and institutions in the education and training sector to join us in helping young learners, and in doing so play their part in shaping our culture, society, and economy for the better. By working together to improve access to skills and education we can make a real difference, and in providing assistive technology, organisations can become truly accessible to students with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, and those who speak English as a second language. "We wanted to make sure our website was accessible to as many people as possible. There are so many different features on the Recite Me toolbar that it covers everything from an accessibility and language perspective. The team at Recite Me are very proud and passionate about their software and have been great to work with." Amy Simpson, Head of Digital Communications, Cranfield University We invite you to read some of our case studies, and if you’d like to see more you can book a demo of the Recite Me assistive toolbar by contacting our team.
West Devon is a local government district and borough in Devon, England. Towns in the district include Chagford, Okehampton, Princetown, and Tavistock, where the council is based. The district was formed on 1 April 1974 and serves a population of around 55,000 people.
The easy answer is that web accessibility is now such an important consideration that you simply cannot afford for your website not to be accessible. But, of course, there is more to it than that… We’ve come a long way since the early days when US astronomer Clifford Stoll submitted an article entitled “The Internet? Bah!” into a Newsweek publication, boldly predicting that the internet was no more than a passing fad. Obviously, he couldn’t have been more wrong, and today the internet is an incredibly important tool and a more valuable source of information than ever - and it’s not going anywhere! Just like the internet itself, accessibility is by no means a passing fad. So if you commit to having a website for your business at all, then why not make it fully inclusive and accessible, rather than alienating groups of users and consumers? In an age where the entire world is embracing diversity and fighting for equality, the phrase ‘be kind’ seems to get bounced around on an ever-increasing basis. So we urge you to be kind to your website users and adapt to meet the needs of those who suffer from a range of disabilities including: Visual impairments Deafblindness Colour blindness Dyslexia Hyperlexia Dyspraxia ADHD Speaking English as a second language Epilepsy Mobility and physical impairments Key Reasons to Ensure Your Website Is Accessible 1. Revenue: Making your website accessible to all consumers is the smart thing to do. The business case for accessibility varies based on the type of organisation, but particularly in the case of commercial companies, justification is required before resources can be allocated towards it. At Recite Me, we are confident that the benefits outweigh the effort and costs, and a recent research study of Fortune 100 companies discovered that having a robust online diversion and inclusion policy is a common denominator among high performing businesses. Plus, there is an abundance of information and statistics that rebut the argument that return on investment is too difficult to measure in order to warrant the outlay required: The total disposable income of the US working-age population with disabilities is $490 billion The online spending power of people with access needs in the UK is £24.8 billion. 86% of users with access needs would spend more if there were fewer barriers. 83% of people with access needs limit their shopping to sites that they know are accessible. 71% of users leave a site that they find hard to use. Ultimately, users will click away from inaccessible websites and spend their money elsewhere. So there is a clear case that making a business accessible online as well as in-person should lead to an increase in profits. Despite this, fewer than 10% of businesses have a targeted plan to access the disability market. 2. Improving User Experience: Making your website accessible to all consumers is the right thing to do. It is a commonly agreed principle that everyone should have access to information online. Microsoft’s application guide for developers specifically states that designing inclusive software results in improved usability and customer satisfaction, and this is something that the team at Recite Me can verify from experience. The inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, believes that the internet should empower all members of society by making information accessible to everyone. “The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect…The Web is fundamentally designed to work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, location, or ability.” Sir Tim Berners-Lee Inclusivity online becomes increasingly relevant when you consider that: Approximately one in every hundred people worldwide has a learning difficulties that can make accessing information online difficult. At least one billion people worldwide have a recognised disability that can make accessing information online difficult. 20% of the UK population and 25% of the US population live with a disability. One in ten people in the UK doesn’t speak English as their first language. More than one in five people living in America speak a language other than English at home. 3. Compliance & Legalities: Making your website accessible to all consumers is a thing you must do. Nowadays, it is expected by law that businesses and service providers do not treat disabled people less favourably. So in order to avoid lawsuits, companies are required to adhere to national and international standards and guidelines. A few examples are as follows: In the UK - The Equality Act of 2010 states that all UK service providers must consider ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled people. Furthermore, 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, with further regulations for private sector compliance expected to follow in due course. In the USA - Web accessibility regulations are covered under various federal laws including The American Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that companies make accommodations for disabled users with specific regard to web accessibility. In Norway – It is illegal for commercial websites not to provide equal access for people with disabilities, and fines are issued to companies that do not comply. In the European Union – The European Accessibility Act requires that all businesses operating in the e-commerce sector meet minimum accessibility requirements. Worldwide – The World Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) have been developed to provide a set of core principles and minimum standards to meet the needs of consumers internationally. These guidelines define how content should be made more accessible to those with disabilities, and are the premium standards that should be adopted by organisations globally. Despite the increase in accessibility guidelines and legislation in recent years, companies around the world are still failing to meet minimum requirements: In 2019, an evaluation by WebAIM concluded that 97.8% of homepages failed to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). 70% of websites in the USA have critical accessibility issues, and web accessibility lawsuits hit a record number in 2019 with 11,053 cases being filed through the federal court. A particularly landmark case was the victory of Guillermo Robles, a blind man who successfully sued Dominos after he was unable to order food on the company’s website. With this in mind, it is essential that all businesses including commercial companies, educational institutions, non-profit organisations, and governmental bodies are aware of the national and international guidelines that apply to them. Particular attention should be given to developing a thorough understanding of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and ensuring compliance. Ready to Embrace Accessibility? You should be! Aside from the financial, ethical, and legal advantages, there’s also a significant feel-good factor associated with inclusivity that boosts morale across an organisation. If you would like to book a demo of the Recite Me assistive toolbar to help you towards your inclusivity goals and optimise your business for success, please feel free to contact our team. Installations of the Recite Me toolbar onto third party websites supported millions of web users in 2019: Over 4.5 million launches of the Recite Me toolbar Over 21.5 million accessibility toolbar features used Over 9 million website translations in over 100 languages Nearly 10 million pieces of content read aloud in 35 languages Over 1.4 million styling customisations 2,600 audio files downloaded Try it for Free! It is vital, especially in the current climate, that information can be understood by everyone, and the demand for accessible and inclusive websites has never been greater. Put simply, service providers and consumers alike must go online more than ever before to conduct their daily business and transactions. Throughout the current pandemic, Recite Me is offering to host a free accessible and inclusive landing page for any business, allowing you to share COVID-19 related messages with your staff and customers.