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You’d think that all travel companies would all be accessible these days, right? After all, the Equality Act of 2010 sets clear stipulations requiring companies to make adjustments for disabled users and those with additional access needs. Yet, feedback from the disabled community and accessibility campaigners suggests there are still significant gaps in accessibility provisions, both with public transportation like trains and buses, and at airports and on airplanes. “When stories about disability discrimination come out in the press, people shake their heads at the disgraceful treatment of disabled people. Everyone agrees it’s unacceptable and shouldn’t be happening in twenty-first century Britain. Then. Then…well, nothing really. Nothing much changes. Talks subside until the next dreadful incident, and people with disabilities and others with additional needs struggle to live independently.” Sam Renke, Actress and Disability Campaigner So, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many travel websites are not up to speed with accessibility issues either. Why is an Accessible Website Important for Travellers? People go to online travel and transport websites for multiple reasons, including: Researching a trip Comparing prices Assessing facilities at train stations, airports, and bus depots, etc Booking tickets Checking timetables Changing Itineraries Checking in online Everyone should have the same opportunity to decide whether a particular destination or service is right for them. That means having equal access to information and reservation processes. “When I’m trying to book a holiday on a travel site, I quite often feel like I’m going in the wrong direction. Travel sites with poor accessibility have stopped me from making purchases in the past and hampered my experiences. I think businesses are guilty of not considering accessibility from the beginning of the design process and almost trying to incorporate accessibility features as an afterthought – which shouldn’t be the case.” Molly Watt, Usability and Accessibility Consultant Common Accessibility Problems on Travel Websites Lack of information is a barrier in its own right, and for many internet users, travel websites are simply not accessible: Using colour to convey booking availability - a calendar that uses colour alone to convey availability can be inaccessible to people with visual impairments. Missing form labels on booking forms – without labels users who use a screen reader may be uncertain what to input into the field when making a booking or an enquiry. Flashing images - travel websites often have flashing images to promote ‘hot deals’ which can trigger epileptic website visitors. Website only available in English - People who speak English as a second language cannot adequately understand the content. Without a translation option, they will simply leave the page and book with a competitor. Missing ALT text - ALT text is a short-written description of an image and is read aloud to users by screen reader software. If no ALT text is provided a screen reader would only be able to say “image” or perhaps read the file name. Small text on comparison tables and calendars – people with vision impairments cannot read information online when the font size is too small. Who Needs Website Accessibility Assistance? In short, more people than you think! Accounting for at least 15% of the global population, the disabled are the world’s largest minority group. In the UK, it’s estimated that nearly 1 in every 5 people has some sort of disability. So improvements are required as soon as possible to tap into this incredibly lucrative market. In the travel sector, it’s arguable that physical and hidden disabilities are more prevalent than in others a higher percentage of the market is likely to encounter accessibility barriers. For example, there are currently almost 12 million people aged 65 and over in the UK alone, many of whom have disposable income to spend on travel but are more likely to struggle with vision problems and mobility issues. Also, many tourists and travellers do not speak English as a first language. Accessibility Barrier Examples Online access barriers occur when an element of a website’s design or presentation makes it difficult to read or interact with the content. Let’s look at some real-life examples. Ann is partially sighted. She wants to book a train tour around Scotland, but the website she’s looking at does not have appropriately-coded headings, so her screen reader cannot skip to the sections she wants to read. Plus, many images are missing alt tags, so she receives no helpful contextual information from images. Dave has dyslexia. He wants to book flights directly with an airline, but their website is overcrowded with information. The text is too small, the text is not suitably aligned, and the poor colour contrast between text and background makes it impossible for him to read the text or makes sense of the availability calendar. Shonda does not speak or read English as a first language. She’s trying to buy an annual bus pass but is struggling to understand the information. Plus, because the booking form is missing labels, she doesn’t understand where to click to make a reservation. She eventually finds an explainer video on YouTube, but the auto-generated captions are inaccurate and create even more confusion. The Cost of an Inaccessible Travel Website The spending power of those with disabilities is commonly known as the Purple Pound, and financial losses from consumers who click away from your website and shop on more accessible sites is known as the Clickaway Pound. The value of the UK’s ‘click away’ spending on more barrier-free sites is £17.1 billion. 24% of disabled travellers say they have problems with the searching, shopping, or booking processes(Amadeus). 53% of travellers say they needed help with all or part of the travel booking process (Amadeus). 34% of travellers would increase their budget if accessibility barriers were eliminated (World Travel & Tourism Council) 56% of people say having info in their language is more important than price (Interpreters and Translators inc). 85% limit their shopping to websites that they know are accessible (ClickAwayPound). 75% of disabled people and their families have walked away from a business because of poor accessibility or customer service (We Are Purple). Top Tips to Create an Accessible Travel Website When building or redesigning a website, check out the World Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and aim for WCAG AA level. This is the standard of accessibility compliance that is legally required for certain sites, is the level that is typically referred to when discussing ‘making a website accessible’. In addition, your webmaster should follow these steps to make your website easier for everyone to read, focus on, and understand. 1. Use a content management system that supports accessibility. This includes ensuring that layouts, themes, widgets, and plugins are compatible with WCAG standards. Some of the most popular content management options for travel, tour, and activity operators include WordPress, Typo3, Drupal, Magento, and Contao. 2. Think about the layout Group relevant topics under separate and fully descriptive labels. For example, options for train travel, bus travel, flights, and car rental should all be under their own separate tab. You can include drop-down or click-through links to other relevant content by destination, price, etc. 3. Use headings correctly to structure your content. Visitors use headings to quickly scan a page to see if the content is relevant to them. If they are looking for information about a particular route, destination, service, or price point, using headers effectively can increase engagement and bookings. For example, you could use H2 titles on a special offers page to promote ‘round trips for under £100’, ‘round trips for under £200’, ‘round trips for under £500’, etc. 4. Include alt text for all images. Descriptions evoke feelings that have the power to increase sales. So, aside from simply including alt tags, it’s worth putting some effort into the descriptions. For example, possible descriptions for the same picture could include: Family in the sea Family playing in the sea at sunset Parents and children wearing white playing in the sea at sunset See the difference? 5. Be mindful of colour use and colour contrasts. When designing availability calendars and pricing tables, bear in mind that the newest WCAG recommendations require a contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for normal text (14 point) and 3:1 for large text (18 point +). Because red/green colour blindness is the most common, avoiding green on red or red on green is best. If you’re not sure about your colour options, the WebAim Contrast Checker allows you to check any two colours against each other to gauge contrast suitability. 6. Ensure documents are designed for accessibility. Many links to tickets and booking confirmations are programmed to open in a new window and display as a PDF. This is not accessibility friendly to many disabled website visitors using assistive technology like screen readers. Often, that means contacting the company directly to obtain documents in accessible formats. 7. Optimize for navigation Your website should be easy to navigate using a mouse, trackpad, keyboard, and ideally, voice-activated assistive technology. You can learn more about keyboard navigation and recommendations on the W3C website. How Recite Me Can Help A proven way of supporting people online is by utilising assistive technology. Recite Me’s assistive toolbar supports a diverse range of users by providing tools that allow website visitors to create a fully customisable experience. Our accessibility features can be used individually or combined to make multiple adjustments for ultimate ease of use. Users can: Personalise font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read. Utilise 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. Customise PDF documents and have them read aloud or translated. What the Data Says Recite Me software is already installed on over 3500 websites. We are proud to work with numerous organisations in the travel and transport sector already, including Gatwick Airport, London City Airport, and Orlando International Airport. We are delighted that so many companies are committed to providing inclusive online journeys for the public they serve. Our most recent 12-month stats from our travel and transport sector clients show that: Over 2.4 million pages have been viewed using the Recite Me toolbar. On average website visitors who use the Recite Me toolbar on travel and transport viewed 7.12 pages, which is higher than the average internet journey depth of just 2.8 pages per visit. 2.8 million pieces of content were read aloud. 2.8 million pieces of content were translated into different languages. Key Takeaways The travel and transport sector is a lucrative market, and businesses that are not accessible to people with a range of access needs are missing out on up to 20% of the market share. Common accessibility issues are easily fixed by adapting your website to meet our list of best practices. All business websites should aim to comply with WCAG Level AA. Assistive technology can support people with varied access needs by allowing them to make customisations for easy reading and navigation. If you’d like more information on how to optimise your website for inclusion with our cloud-based website accessibility technology, please contact our team or book a real-time demonstration of our toolbar.
Founded in 1941 and located in Washington D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) advocates progressive values and equality for humanists, atheists, freethinkers, and the non-religious. Humanism is a nontheistic worldview with ethical values informed by scientific knowledge and driven by a desire to meet the needs of people in the here and now. At the foundation of those values is an affirmation of the dignity of every human being.
When discussing inclusive experiences online, the Recite Me team is often asked about on-page translation and screen reader (text-to-speech) features. One of the most popular questions is "How accurate is the translation?". The simple answer is that it depends on how well-written your website is to begin with. But admittedly, that reply may raise more questions than it does answers! Here’s everything you need to know. Providing on-page translation and text-to-speech functionality is a great way to make your website more accessible because: Only around 1 in every four internet users speaks and reads in English (26%). In a choice between similar products, 75% of consumers will select options where information is available in their language. 56% of online shoppers say having information in their language is more important than price. If your website is written in English and you’re relying on machine translation to satisfy various linguistic needs, you need to be up-to-date with best practices and do more to actively improve the accuracy of your translated web content. Being fluent in English and French, this is something our senior sales executive, Bernie Petegou, has been asked about multiple times. “It's probably an obvious thing to say that the quality of the translation depends on the quality of the source text, but many people just don’t know how to write better translatable or 'machine-friendly' content.” Bernie Petegou, Senior Sales Executive at Recite Me Let’s start from the beginning… What is Machine Translation? Simply put, machine translation is a process of using computer software to translate text from one language to another without the need for human involvement. Machine translation software typically utilises one of three translation methods: Rules-based translation – Using dictionaries and language and grammar rules developed by linguistic experts, rule-based translation can be customised to fit specific niches or industries. Statistical translation – Rather than relying on words and grammar rules, statistical translation converts based on machine exposure to a large cache of pre-existing human translations. Neural translation – This increasingly popular method is used by industry giants like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. Powerful artificial intelligence (AI) models essentially teach themselves to translate by using an extensive neural network. Pros and Cons of Machine Translation You may be wondering how machine translation compares to human translation. Here’s a list of pros and cons. Machine Translation Pros Speed - Machine translation can process entire pages and documents in seconds. Functionality – A single tool can handle translation tasks in multiple languages. Scale – There’s little limitation to the number of languages the tool can work with. Low Cost – The limited need for human involvement reduces payroll and employee benefit overheads. Plus, recruitment costs are reduced as there’s no need to vet and hire translators. Automated Input – Machine translation tools can memorise key terms and be programmed to reuse them wherever they might fit. Innovation - Translation technology is constantly evolving and improving. Machine Translation Cons Context – Machines can’t translate context or interpret puns, metaphors, slogans, or understand idiomatic differences as well as a human. Consistency – The consistency of translation can vary across different languages. Accuracy – Machine translation is generally slightly lower than human translation accuracy. Writing Machine-Friendly Content As we highlighted earlier, the better your web copy is to begin with, the less likely it is to confuse machine translation tools. The Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union (CDT) has compiled a handy guide about writing for machine translation based on real-life experiences and examples. To guarantee the highest level of accuracy when using our assistive technology to translate your website, we recommend following their list of best practices: Language – Keep it clear, concise, and consistent for the best translation results. Terminology - Be specific in your wording and avoid synonyms that could result in different translations of the same words or phrases in other languages. Pronoun use – Using a noun rather than a pronoun increases clarity, especially if you’re translating into languages like French, Spanish and Italian, where words like ‘it’ can be mistranslated into the wrong gender and cause confusion. Abbreviations and acronyms – Avoid both wherever possible. Either write the name or phrase in full or use the full name or title with the acronym/abbreviation in brackets afterwards. Sentence length – Avoid very short sentences of 5 words or less, very long sentences of 60 words or more, and keep each sentence relevant to one topic or idea. Line breaks – Machine translation tools treat all parts of a title or heading separately, so avoid line breaks that could cause text to be split into two separate titles or headings rather than one. Punctuation – Proper punctuation gives machines clues about meaning, so accuracy and consistency when using hyphens, quotation marks, and bullet points, etc., is paramount. Capital letters – Avoid writing whole words, titles, or sentences in capitals because translation technology is less accurate when processing capital letters. Symbols – While some signs and symbols are universal (like the $ sign), others (like the & sign) are not. If in doubt, always type the word rather than using a symbol. Headers – Use automatic heading styles in MS Word to ensure content will be translated the same way in the table of contents in other languages. Download the complete CDT guide with examples. Recite Me Translation At Recite Me, we have adopted Google Translate as our chosen machine translation software based on several factors: A hybrid model designed for optimum accuracy Web crawl capabilities that focus on precision rather than recall Finely tuned tech that is trained on noisy data and fine-tuned on clean data Back-translation, which is particularly useful for low-resource languages where parallel data is scarce M4 modelling that allows for transfer learning on a massive scale You can read more about the development of machine translation models and the recent advances of Google translate on the Google AI blog. By partnering with Google, the Recite Me assistive toolbar can quickly and easily translate web content into over 100 on-page languages and 35 text-to-speech languages. You can download the complete list here. Our data over the last 12 months shows that: Our text-to-speech screen reader vocalised 35.5 million pieces of content Our on-page translation feature was used to translate nearly 15 million web pages The most popular languages across our translation features were Spanish, Danish, French, Moldavian, Chinese, Polish, Afrikaans, and Italian. Over the last 6 months, we have added Urdu and US Spanish (South American) to our toolbar, and also made improvements to the way the toolbar manages languages like Arabic and Hebrew that are formatted right to left. If needed, our team is able to work with clients using human translation on specific sections or pages. This can be helpful for businesses who operate in niche industries using special or unusual terminology. It can also be advantageous for medical, legal, and financial companies etc., where 100% accuracy is crucial. A range of other language optimisation techniques are also available, and over time, Recite Me has updated hundreds of single words and phrases across all languages to improve pronunciation. The customer feedback from our clients shows the power of offering a tool that includes translation options: “I’m a member of an Eastern European community support group and regularly use the Recite Me toolbar to translate online content. I can access information with various adjustments, including translation in many languages, some of them even in audio versions. I can also change colours, text, and use other on-screen tools. I have had a very good experience working with Beyond Housing since they upgraded their website with new tools as part of their programme, ‘Believing in Accessibility for All’.” Anda, a Beyond Housing customer from Latvia Machine Translation: Key Takeaways Of course, the language trends for individual businesses will differ depending on your industry and where your company is based. The key takeaway is that on-page and text-to-speech translation is a game-changer when it comes to reaching a wider audience – whether at home or overseas. “When your site is available in multiple languages, you attract the attention of an international market. You also become identified as a global brand which elevates your status and improves your reputation. Consumers tend to trust global brands more than ones that are only known locally.” Nick McGuire, E-commerce specialist and blogger Some smaller and more local businesses are quick to dismiss the need for translation features. However, making your products and services available in other languages is a good idea even within the domestic market. For example, did you know that: In the UK, 4.2 million people speak a language other than English at home In the US, 67 million people speak a language other than English at home In Australia, 5.3 million people speak a language other than English at home Finally, assistive technology is a fantastic way to offer translation options while also tapping into additional features that help customers with disabilities. Other features of the Recite Me toolbar support a range of physical, visual, auditory, cognitive, and neurological conditions by offering: Font personalisation for size, typeface, and colour A mask screen tool to help with focus A ruler to make reading easier. A built-in dictionary and thesaurus Audio file content downloads as an alternative to real-time reading Customised and accessible PDF downloads The ability to strip away image carousels and graphics Learn More If you’d like further information about Recite Me translation features (or any other aspect of our assistive technology toolbar), you’re welcome to contact our team anytime for more details, advice, and recommendations for your website. Alternatively, you can book a live demo to see our toolbar in action.
Are you or any of your family, friends, or colleagues affected by autism? UK government statistics suggest that more than 1% of the population is on the autism spectrum, while in America the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that autism may affect as many as 1 in every 54 people. So at some point in your home life, education, or professional environments, it is highly likely that you will meet members of the autistic community. What is Autism? Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a genetic condition that affects an individual’s development, and can often present challenges when it comes to social interaction, speech, behaviour, and nonverbal communication. Autism is a lifelong condition most commonly detected in childhood and is three to four times more prevalent in boys than girls. Every individual on the autism spectrum is different, and while some autistic people may need very little help, others may need much more. Like any condition under the neurodiversity umbrella, autism is not a marker of decreased intelligence. Many of those diagnosed with autism in early life go on to lead healthy, happy, independent, successful and fulfilling lives. Individuals on the autism spectrum may: Have difficulties communicating and interacting with other people Not understand the feelings and thought processes of others Take longer to assimilate information Become stressed in environments with excess noise or bright colours Demonstrate repetitive behaviour patterns Struggle in unfamiliar situations Become overwhelmed by busy social environments You can read more about dyspraxia on the National Autistic Society website. Autism and Web Accessibility Often, people with autism have heightened sensory awareness. This means they can be easily distracted by images, logos, and graphics on web pages. So processing website content can be difficult. Colour contrasts between text and background can also be distracting for those in the autistic community. Low-contrast neutral colour palettes are often preferred over the standard black text on white background options presented by most websites. Consistency is important to individuals on the autism spectrum, so if web pages are not easy to navigate or have an unpredictable flow, autistic readers are likely to click away. Supporting Autism Online Children and adults with autism face distinct challenges when reading information online. Plus, autism is often listed as a disorder that co-occurs with other neurodiverse conditions such as Dyslexia and Dyspraxia. So it is important that all individual differences and combinations are accounted for. With the Recite Me assistive toolbar, users can make singular or multiple adjustments to account for all individual requirements and adapt the way web content is presented to suit their specific needs. Recite Me assistive toolbar features that support autistic users include: A selection of colour palettes to account for contrast sensitivity between the text and background. The ability to change font type, font size, and font spacing. Text-only mode to strip away distracting graphics. Options to have content read aloud in over 35 different languages. Full control over the speed at which the text is read aloud, and a choice between male and female voices. A screen mask for easier focus. Client Feedback In the last 12 months, Recite Me has witnessed a surge in disability groups signing up for our website assistive technology, and we are proud to be helping more neuroatypical members of our community than ever before. Anna Kennedy Online Anna Kennedy Online provides workshops, training, legal advice and talks across the UK, and partners on annual events like AKO Autism Expo, the Autism Hero Awards, and ‘Autism’s Got Talent’. "Since we have been working with Recite Me and updating our website making it disability friendly, we have received many compliments and thanks from the autism community. Recite Me are always respectful and understand exactly what we are trying to achieve to make the website accessible to all " Anna Kennedy, CEO Autism Plus Autism Plus has been supporting adults and young people with autism, learning disabilities, mental health conditions, and other complex needs since 1986. "As a Disability Confident employer, we want to ensure we are as accessible as possible, not only to the people we support but for our employees and supporters too. Recite Me provides more options on our website and makes the content completely customisable. " Katie Mitchell, Marketing Manager To understand the online challenges and obstacles those with autism face, we sat down with Katie Mitchell, Marketing Manager at Autism Plus to discuss the importance of providing accessibility options online. User Experience From our user data, we can track which of our toolbar features are customised the most by our clients’ website visitors. Our records show that among Autism Plus users, the following features are the most commonly used on their website: Text enlarge Text-only mode Screen mask Magnifying glass This holds true with our knowledge of autistic users, in that they often prefer to focus on a particular area of a webpage. These specific tools help users to stay focused and avoid distraction from images and the other content on the page. It’s incredibly rewarding for the Recite Me team to see data like this, as it shows that our toolbar works effectively and we are succeeding in our goals of making the internet a more accessible and inclusive place for everyone. Find Out More In today’s increasingly digital landscape, it has never been more important that everyone has equal access to information online. For further details on becoming more inclusive by utilising our assistive technology, please feel free to contact our team or book a demonstration of our toolbar.
There is no factory standard when it comes to the human brain and how it operates. Did you know that at least 15% of the population are neurodivergent, yet fewer than 50% may know it? And many people still don’t know what neurodiversity is at all! So…What Exactly IS Neurodiversity? The term neurodiversity was coined in 1998 by sociologist Judy Singer, and refers to the variation in how we process information, think, act, move and sense the world we live in. Differences in learning, attention, mood, literacy, numeracy and social skills have been broken down into sub-classifications and sometimes been associated with neurodiversity., Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Dyslexia Dyscalculia Developmental Language Disorder Tic Disorders ( including Tourette’s Syndrome) Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) also known as Dyspraxia Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) Some people have challenges in more than one area and these conditions often overlap with each other. In one study they found that 60% have more than one of the conditions listed. (REF) It is important to remember that these conditions are not injuries or diseases. They are the result of a number of factors including genes that are part of natural variation. In other words, they are differences, not disabilities. Some people are disabled by the world they live in when there is an expectation of everyone having to do the same thing. In order to be included different approaches may be needed when it comes to learning and working. “Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment?” Harvey Blume, Journalist & Autism Advocate Neurodiversity and Online Barriers Typical challenges faced by those with neurodiverse conditions include: Difficulty staying focused on a task Understanding the order and meaning of words Becoming overloaded by information Difficulty discriminationg some colour contrasts Most e-commerce websites are typically very overwhelming for neurodivergent visitors. Between the banners, pictures, links, and many buttons, pages can appear incredibly ‘busy’. It is easy in this situation that potential customers become too distracted to buy anything. So website providers need to account for neurodivergent traits and preferences in their design, content, and layout. Considerations should include: How much information is on each page? And is it all needed? Is there a clear hierarchy of importance to the content? Are visual elements relevant to the content? Are there alt tags on visual images that can be used with a screen reader? How Recite Can Help Different Types of Neurodiversity Traits Reading and processing on-screen information is difficult for neurodivergent website visitors. The Recite Me assistive toolbar removes these difficulties by allowing users to fully customise the webpage so it suits their own individual needs. Features include: A screen mask to help with focus and concentration. Options to have content read aloud in over 35 different languages to negate reading difficulties. Full control over the speed at which the text is read aloud to allow for varying auditory preferences. Customisation options for text font, colour, sizing, and spacing, so that the look of the webpage can be tailor-made into the perfect format for every individual. A spell-checker and a fully integrated dictionary and thesaurus to help with comprehension. Recite Me assistive technology is the perfect solution to help businesses and organisations support their neurodivergent team members, as users can make singular or multiple adjustments to adapt the way web content looks. We’ve been happy to witness growing support for the neurodiverse community in recent years. The dramatic increase in the use of our assistive toolbar last year suggests that we are helping more companies to reach a more diverse market. In 2021 Recite Me saw toolbar users increase by 90% to over 3.4 million people being supported online. Advocating for Inclusion in the Education Sector Accounting for individual differences should begin early in life, as difficulties experienced at school can lead to low self-esteem and underperformance in later life. As neurodivergent conditions become more widely understood and accepted, increasing pressure is being put on schools and colleges to stop focusing on what students are unable to do, and put more emphasis on acknowledging and celebrating the many positive aspects that neurodiversity brings. “When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” Alexander Den Heijer, Leadership speaker, trainer, and consultant Neurodivergent students are well known for being more capable of ‘thinking outside the box’ than other students. They are also normally more creative, better at problem-solving, natural innovators, and can often see situations from different and more unique perspectives. The world has a lot to benefit from the neurodiverse community, but it is important that teaching methods are inclusive. In modern-day teaching models, it is vital that e-learning materials are accessible to neurodivergent students in both their design and delivery. Advocating for Inclusion in the Workplace Being neurodivergent shouldn’t mean not being able to find a dream job, although historically, the neurodiverse community has experienced unemployment rates as high as 90%. This suggests a problem within the application and hiring process, in that the definition of talent has been too narrow. Make no mistake, neurodiversity is not a marker of intelligence, and there is no shortage of talent in the neurodiverse employment pool. In fact, neurodivergent individuals comprise some of history’s most infamous pioneers, leaders, and change-makers, including Alan Turin, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, Richard Branson and Bill Gates. We are happy to have witnessed a significant upsurge in new employment opportunities for neurodivergent applicants in the last five to ten years. Industry leaders now see the benefits of teams that include neurodiverse members as they strive for more effective working strategies, improved innovation, increased productivity, and ever more progressive solutions. “Our autistic employees achieve, on average, 48% to 140% more work than their typical colleagues, depending on the roles.” James Mahoney, Head of Global Technology Diversity & Inclusion at JP Morgan Other organisations that are vocal in their goals of employing neurodivergent employees to gain a competitive advantage include IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Dell, Deloitte, and Goldman Sachs. Neurodiversity Support Thankfully there are some fantastic resources for guidance on neurodiversity: DO-IT Solutions: Trusted in Education, Training, Employment and Justice and endorsed by 25 years’ clinical and academic research, Do-IT can help organisations deliver inclusive approaches supporting the strengths and minimising challenges of all people. Recite Me is proud to list them as a partner. “Our mission is to ensure that education and employment places are neuro-inclusive so that talents can be harnessed and maintained. We recognise a complementary neurodiverse world offers new solutions when we work together.” Amanda Kirby, doctor, Do-IT CEO, and author The Hidden Impairment National Group - Provides information and guidance to applicants, employers, and employees on all aspects of the application, interview, selection, onboarding, and workflow processes. Are YOU Neurodiverse Friendly? We hope so. Increasing engagement in learning and working environments for people with neurodivergent profiles should be a priority. At Recite Me we believe in inclusion for all, which starts by creating awareness and helping others to understand the opportunities presented by improving web accessibility. By guiding our clients through this process, we can make a positive difference together. Inclusion should be a ‘business as usual' approach, rather than a ‘tick the box’ exercise, so by adopting our web accessibility software combined with your neurodiverse-friendly recruitment, onboarding and retention policies, we can help you reach new levels of success. If you’d like to join the thousands of businesses who have already integrated our accessibility software onto their sites and are seeing the benefits, please contact our team or book a demo.
The Salvation Army is the first Australian charity to offer Recite Me accessibility and language tools online to support those with additional needs online. The Salvation Army Australia is an international Christian movement, united by faith and giving hope where it’s needed most to every demographic and age group. Valuing all people is at the heart of the Salvation Army, aiming to provide a safe, welcoming, and fully inclusive program to people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. By recognising the diversity of its members, the Salvation Army is sensitive to the needs of people who often find it difficult to access and use services in times of crisis. To provide services and information to all the Salvation Army have implemented assistive technology to provide those with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, cognitive or neurological disorders, and those who speak English as a second language. Adrian Kistan, General Manager Mission Inclusion, said the Army is committed to the inclusion of people from diverse backgrounds, particularly people of all abilities (including those living with a disability). “The internet can be an incredibly intimidating place for those with access barriers, and those lacking the tools they need to adequately understand or communicate are at a significant disadvantage,” Adrian said. “The Diversity & Inclusion team identified the need to improve access to and awareness of the Salvation Army’s social services and spiritual support for people of all abilities.” The accessibility and language toolbar on the Salvation Army website provides features such as, 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. “As part of our diversity and inclusion strategy, website visitors are now able to access a wide range of accessibility and language support tools to customise their digital experience,” Adrian said. If you would like more information on how your organisation can provide an inclusive online experience by using assistive technology, contact our team or book a real-time demonstration of our toolbar.
Housing organisation, Get Living, provides 3,000 homes to rent across London and Manchester. Their mission is to align the physical accessibility of homes and public spaces with digital accessibility, creating places where people live, work and play, and feel part of diverse and inclusive communities.
Written by Ross Linnett, Recite Me Founder and CEO One question we get asked a lot from organisations that are looking to provide an inclusive website is, “How many people actually need support online and who uses the toolbars?” And the truth is a lot more people than you may first think… Try Millions, around 20% of the population! The internet can be a minefield of access barriers. On any given website, a barrier can be any element of the design or formatting that prevents users from reading and understanding the content. Data can provide us with a lot of information and this is something Recite Me shares with all our clients but this isn't the full story! What data can’t and won’t tell you, is the exact number of disabled users your website attracts, the representation of your brand, and that accessibility really does support everyone. You might be thinking, ‘why not?’. Surely it would be in our commercial interest to make that information available? Well, data privacy, for starters. But also because those stats come irrelevant when we were are talking about people. Real-life people with real-life needs. Ultimately making the online world inclusive is the right thing to do. So to some degree, the ROI becomes irrelevant. Protecting User Privacy We all leave increasingly larger digital footprints year on year, and our personal data has become something of a currency. Websites track our IP addresses, and apps track our location, habits, preferences, and buyer behaviours. How that information is used affects everyone, but disabled users are more heavily impacted by the lack of control over their data footprints. If disability information is allowed to be used as a metric, it can lead to additional stigma and the further segregation of people who are already vulnerable and marginalised. Because of this, standards exist to protect the user data of your disabled website visitors. Accessibility ROI Shouldn’t Be A Thing Even if you knew how many disabled people used your website, would it matter? If the number seemed smaller than you were expecting, would you de-prioritise accessibility and inclusion factors? Or even drop some of the accessible features from your website based on the cost-benefit analysis? Either would be a mistake. Not only is web accessibility expected by law in most countries, but your customers expect it. 52% of consumers consider a company’s values when making a purchase. So if your organization isn’t viewed as being inclusive, your products and services will appear less authentic, you’ll lose out on sales, and your brand image will suffer. “Digital businesses with accessible websites are demonstrating leadership by example. They are showcasing proof that ethical accessibility practices can help increase brand credibility, inclusion for all, and online conversions.” Kim Krause Berg, Web Design Standards and Compliance Specialist Disability Data Doesn’t Accurately Predict Market Potential An alternative (and much better) question than ‘how many disabled people use my website?’ might be ‘how many disabled people don’t use my website?’. Because even if you had a handle on disabled website visitor stats, that wouldn’t tell you anything about the potential traffic and conversion boost you’d receive by adding additional accessibility features. It’s estimated that 1 in every 5 people has a physical, visual, auditory, cognitive, or neurological disability that can make accessing information online difficult. If your website doesn’t have the features those people need, they’re probably already spending on a competitor’s website. So not only is making your website accessible the right thing to do, it gives you instant access to an additional 20% of the market. Accessibility Benefits Everyone Improving web accessibility doesn’t just benefit disabled users. It benefits everyone. For example, it’s estimated that the average office worker spends around 35 hours per week staring at a computer screen – and that’s without the several additional hours spent glued to a smartphone outside of work. So it’s hardly surprising that up to 90% of people experience some kind of screen fatigue. By embracing assistive technology, everyone can make adjustments for improved comfort and reduced fatigue. Websites That Work Make People Happy Our user feedback supports the use of assistive technology, even among users that don’t have a physical or hidden disability: “It doesn’t strain or hurt my eyes when I read now.” “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.” For disabled website visitors, adding an assistive technology offers equity and can be the difference between whether people can access, read, and understand important information or not. “I have Autism and Dyslexia. With the Recite Me toolbar enabled, I can change to a Dyslexia-friendly font and add a ruler to keep my place, which really helps me to understand the information I need to stay independent.” When Information Is Vital, Information Must Be Accessible to All I’ve been saying this for a while now. It’s been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as without access to the same information as everyone else, it’s easy for vulnerable citizens to become ostracised. It’s not just about the COVID-19 era, though. Even things like unusual climatic events have links with web accessibility. Take the storms we’ve experienced in the last few months. On November 27th, when Storm Arwen was at its worst, we witnessed a 152% spike in toolbar usage compared to the same day the year before. In total, nearly 5,000 people relied on our assistive technology to view over 20,000 website pages. Similar spikes followed as Storm Barra and Storm Malik arrived. Those statistics demonstrate the value of providing customers with the extra tools they need to access vital information hassle-free. Thankfully, many leading housing, construction, and utility companies already use our assistive technology software on their websites. So for their customers, the struggle was not so great, and we are proud to have played a small role in making life a little less complicated in what was a very stressful time. However, imagine being stuck in a damaged property without power or hot water, and having to battle to find accessible information online before your tablet or smartphone battery dies. “Accessibility is key on any day - but when it comes to events where up-to-date information allows people to make choices to keep themselves, their families and those that they care for safe, it is vital. Jo Giles, Customer Safeguarding Senior Manager at Cadent Want to know more about our assistive toolbar, how it works, and the difference it could make to your customers? Recite Me is now installed on over 3,500 websites. Installation involves just a few lines of code and typically takes less than an hour. Contact our team today or book a demo to discover the inclusive power of our website assistive technology.
National Careers Week is well underway, and it’s amazing to celebrate the organisations that engage and inspire young people leaving education. This week, we are shining a light on the organisations that are leading the way and empowering young talent. We caught up with Sam Price, EDI Lead at Morson Talent to discuss diverse workplaces for our future generation. This year, on National Careers Week, there is a focus on careers guidance that helps young people who are leaving education. Why do you think this is a crucial topic to raise awareness of? True ED&I has a real impact, not just on the lives of people from all walks of life, but in creating stronger cultures and broader empathy in workplaces across the country. At Morson, we are committed to changing perceptions within business, championing women in engineering, and empowering young talent through mentorship. Not only does this open doors for young people that they otherwise may not have considered, but the earlier opportunities are presented to people, the more likely the industry is in achieving truly diverse workplaces in the future. Why do you think it is important for companies to have an equity, diversity, and inclusion lead? An ED&I lead can be the catalyst for broad operational delivery, a central point of focus to drive initiatives across the business as an ambassador for change. What is Morson’s approach to EDI? We pride ourselves on being an equal opportunities employer that provides an inclusive environment to candidates, employees, and our clients alike. We believe that diversity of thought promotes innovation by bringing multiple perspectives to discussions and decisions. We are committed to improving the diversity of our company and building inclusive cultures every day. Our partnerships allow us to impact real change, grow as an organisation, and impart knowledge to our internal and external networks. Our partnerships with the Northern Power Women, The Girls' Network, Inclusively Tech, ReciteMe, and Equal Engineers, ensures that we have access to the latest ED&I thinking to help us support our clients and also help us to achieve our diversity action plan. We believe the concept of ‘seeing is believing’ is extremely powerful. Our ‘Inclusive Role Models’ campaign showcases inspirational stories from people in industries hardest hit by imbalances. By providing relatable role models to take inspiration from, we hope to break down barriers and encourage a wider talent pool into the industry; whilst also providing a positive platform to inspire career transitioning between sectors. Why was the Recite Me toolbar a good fit to help people throughout the candidate process? As a global technical recruiter, we operate in sectors hardest hit by imbalances and we are dedicated to improving diversity within the industries we work. By educating our clients and providing an inclusive candidate journey, we are committed to improving the lives of our contractor base and our own employees. We work hard to attract talent from untapped pools, and by harnessing the power of ReciteMe on our website, we are ensuring that there are no barriers in place to hold talented people back. Why do you think it is important that we amplify the noise of accessibility within the workplace on National Careers Week? National Careers Week provides a focus for careers guidance activity at an important stage in the academic calendar to help support young people leaving education. It’s important for people at this stage of their lives who may have physical or learning difficulties to understand that their career doesn’t have to be defined by it and that there are a lot of options and tools out there to break down the barriers that they might believe exist. With a unique 50-year heritage, Morson Group has an outstanding reputation for placing talented people into the right roles with exciting organisations across the globe. At Morson, recruitment is more than filling roles; it's transforming businesses, fuelling industry and innovation, creating fulfilling careers and opening up the world of work for all. If you are looking for a new opportunity or have talent challenges and simply want to chat about how to solve them, find out more at www.morson.com or get in touch with Sam directly, Sam.Price@morson.com
Fusion People are a recruitment provider offering specialist expertise within Engineering & Manufacturing, Built Environment, and Rail. With the growing demand for sustainable, efficient, and accessible buildings, the construction sector continues to require a regular source of talent, both permanent and temporary. Fusion People, based throughout the UK, can fulfill both blue and white-collar requirements. Providing top quality people of all trades and skills to work across the construction, Engineering, Civils & Safety-Critical rail industries.
Fact: Organisations with diverse, equitable, and inclusive cultures make more profit, have lower turnover rates, and satisfied employees who are more are productive, innovative, and better at decision making. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have been much more than buzzwords for a long time. In the last couple of years, in particular, workplace turbulence amplified by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have thrust DEI factors firmly into board-level discussions and organizational objectives. In fact, just between September 2019 and September 2020, jobs in diversity, inclusion, and belonging rose by 56.3%. Today’s workforce is the most diverse it’s ever been due to a combination of DEI developments and the increased tendency towards remote working. To keep teams connected and focused on organizational milestones and missions, employee experience and engagement have become priority metrics for success. This puts the top talent in the driving seat. “2020 was about crisis response amid a global pandemic, and 2021 was about adapting to challenges like employee burnout, remote work, and hiring and retention in a job market defined by labor shortages and unprecedented employee turnover. 2022 will center on navigating the new normal and employees’ elevated power in this tight labor market.” Daniel Zhao, Economist and Data Scientist But what exactly are the trends to watch out for in 2022? And how does web accessibility play a part? Let’s find out. Workplace Trends for 2022 A recent report by Glassdoor highlighted four emerging workplace trends for 2022: 1. Hiring will be more difficult Customer demand may be returning, but businesses will face increased competition for workers due to factors including lower immigration, an aging population, and the ‘Great Resignation’. This will make hiring and retaining employees challenging and will push businesses to: Offer better salaries, bonuses, and benefits packages Focus on retention through improving employee satisfaction and engagement Access new talent pools by employing more overlooked workers like remote staff, recent retirees, and people with disabilities. 2. Remote working will boost access to talent, but at a higher price point The recruiting advantage that remote employers had a few years ago has been diluted by the surge of work from home (WFH) policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies are likely to face challenges this year as the employee pool continues to become empowered by remote working possibilities, meaning: Employers will have to reduce or remove location-based pay policies Salaries will need to become more competitive 3. Employers will prioritize DEI Modern-day employees expect to see demonstrable progress rather than empty goals or promises, so companies will need to become more transparent and accountable for reporting on DEI factors. Glassdoor’s D&I workplace survey identified that 76% of job seekers consider a diverse workforce important when evaluating companies and job offers. 4. Workplace communities will become increasingly virtual Developing an inclusive and open company culture in a remote setting will become vital. Research shows that two-thirds of remote workers experience isolation and loneliness. As a result, employee turnover rates within businesses with a rich company culture is only 13.9%, compared to 48.4% within organizations with poor company cultures. Why Being Inclusive Matters In today’s competitive marketplace, DEI is a means of achieving positive cultural change while also boosting brand reputation and becoming an employer of choice – all of which help when it comes to attraction, recruitment, and retention. Besides, at a time when so many organisations are reporting employee and skills shortages, tapping into a more diverse talent pool is a no-brainer. “If you haven’t got the best talent you’re not going to be the best, and if you’re not representing properly the available pool of talent then you’re missing an opportunity.” Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, EMEA President at Bank of America There are thousands of talented candidates with hidden disabilities that don’t affect their ability to perform. By improving processes to accommodate a diverse workforce, organisations can improve employee experiences and boost engagement at every stage of the employee life cycle: 1. Attraction - Brand reputation improves from employee, customer, and stakeholder perspectives. 2. Recruitment – Providing inclusive candidate journeys creates equal opportunities and allows organisations to draw from a wider talent pool. 3. Onboarding – Demonstrating inclusive practices sets a first impression that encourages trust and loyalty from the off. 4. Development - Productivity improves because data shows that employees with disabilities take less time off and stay with companies for longer. 5. Retention – Turnover rates drop when everyone feels included and valued. 6. Offboarding – Gathering employee feedback helps provide data and insights that can be used to improve DEI policies further. Where Does Website Accessibility Fit In? Online access barriers are a real-life problem for one in every five people due to hidden disabilities such as: Visual impairments Learning difficulties Neurological conditions Cognitive disabilities Language differences Improving web accessibility allows recruiters and employers to get the best results. Many factors could be preventing the best candidates from applying for a position. Examples include: Websites that are difficult to navigate for people with disabilities. Job ads that are not displayed in an inclusive format. Application forms that aren't accessible. Even in the onboarding, development, and retention phases of an employee’s life cycle, additional software can provide equity and comfort, and should be encouraged. For example, providing screen reader software for a dyslexic employee is no more difficult than providing an ergonomic office chair for someone with back problems. How Recite Me Can Help Accessibility software allows everyone to access websites in the way that works best for them. The Recite Me assistive toolbar has a unique combination of features that helps people with various disabilities. Users can: Personalise font size, type, and colour options Utilise a mask screen tool Use an on-page ruler Strip away images and graphics Download content as an audio file Convert content into over 100 different on-screen languages Have content read aloud in a choice of 35 different languages Customise PDF documents and have them read aloud or translated Improving web accessibility doesn’t just benefit staff with disabilities. It benefits everyone. For example, allowing any employee to make adjustments leading to improved comfort and reduced fatigue will increase engagement and productivity. Career Sector Data Recite me is already installed on over 3,600 websites. Our 2021 careers sector data shows that: Over the year, 74,837 people used Recite Me to help them find their next career Over 6,000 people per month used our software to customise their experience on careers websites. Nearly 28,000 different careers web pages were viewed using the Recite Me toolbar Over 200,000 individual styling changes were made Over 260,000 pieces of content were translated into different languages Nearly 370,000 pieces of content were read aloud What Our Users Say We are proud to work with several industry leaders and experts already. Here’s what some of them have to say about diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. “We want to attract the best talent. Allowing everyone who visits our careers site to use it the way we intended is a vital part of our mission. That’s why we’ve worked with Recite Me to make our website digitally inclusive. It’s the right thing to do and the best decision for our business.” Sean Allen, Head of Talent at Very “Recite Me ensures every part of our recruitment process is accessible to everyone, from browsing to making an application. By employing Recite Me, we can ensure that every candidate gets an equal chance at developing their career by being able to access the same opportunities to gain and maintain employment.” Rebekah Lee, Head of Marketing at Morson International “Recite Me goes to the very heart of our values. It's helping us build a diverse, inclusive environment where we respect, understand, and value different people – starting with how we recruit them.” Victoria Jones, Head of Recruitment at SNC Lavalin 5 Steps to a Digitally Inclusive Workplace Despite rising awareness of DEI factors, the disability employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people was 28.4% in 2021. So there is still a way to go. These are the steps to follow to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within your organisation. 1. Integrate DEI into Your Core Values Ensure your business complies with disability discrimination laws, gather employee feedback regularly, adopt inclusive web design principles, and ensure your social media profiles are accessible. 2. Become Disability Confident Employer Disability Confident schemes help employers explore the benefits of employing disabled people. Over 20,000 forward-thinking companies are registered as Disability Confident – Recite Me being one of them, of course. 3. Provide an Inclusive Candidate Journey Access our free guide to accessible online recruitment in partnership with Guidant Global. 4. Use Assistive Technology Assistive functionality allows customised adaptions that account for varied digital access barriers. 5. Seek Advice There are some fantastic companies specialising in supporting businesses to develop more inclusive practices within the workplace. Examples outside the Recite Me team include Inclusive Employers, Verdica, and RIDI. Want to know more about Recite Me technology? Contact us today to learn how our web accessibility solutions can help strengthen your HR strategy and propel your diversity and inclusion policies forward.
We are extremely proud to announce that Recite Me is now a Member of the Valuable Directory, a global community of disability inclusion consultants. The Valuable 500, the largest network of global CEOs committed to disability inclusion, is embarking on its transformation programme of embedding disability inclusion within leadership agendas and radically transforming the business system across the whole supply chain for the benefit of all. With 70% of its members enjoying a turnover over $1 billion and 52% of those employing over 10,000 people, the Valuable Directory will be available to the collective to utilise and make informed decisions based on expert guidance. Hosted within the Valuable 500’s Digital Hub, the Valuable Directory connects members with disability experts around the world. Recite Me have been vetted by 21 revered thought leaders across the global disability space and will have the opportunity to provide consultation services to the Valuable 500 member companies. While Recite Me has only just been become a Member of the Valuable Directory, we have long championed the rights and needs of people with disabilities. Our assistive toolbar breaks down online barriers for users with disabilities, allowing everyone the opportunity to use the internet in the way that it is intended. Recite Me Founder and CEO, Ross Linnett says “I am incredibly proud that Recite Me has been named as a Member of the Valuable Directory. It is fantastic that we will have the opportunity to support 500 of the most influential companies and CEOs in taking action to accelerate progress towards disability inclusion. At Recite Me diversity, equality and inclusion is at the very core of our culture. Supporting these incredible organisations is another step in our journey to creating an inclusive world where we can all thrive.” As an industry leader we have an opportunity and responsibility to ensure that no one is left behind. Through our position as a Member of the Valuable Directory we will play our part in building an equitable future with no limit to what we can achieve.
World In Sign (WIS) is a deaf-owned company dedicated to fostering accessibility to all levels of society through innovation, technology, and education. With the motto "One Technological World", WIS aims to empower people who are often left behind, helping individuals to communicate and reach their full potential without any barriers. To help achieve this goal, WIS offers an ever-growing range of services including picture-over-picture sign language interpretation, media production, accessible customer service, online event management, and more.