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How to Improve Brand Reputation Through Being Inclusive

07 Sep 2020 | news

Diversity and inclusion have been considered important topics in business for some time already. Companies want to be viewed as supporting equal opportunities, and many businesses have developed comprehensive policies that embrace a more diverse workforce and support their customers better in the physical world. But when it comes to considering diversity and inclusion online, it is often the case that not as much thought has been given to the process. It is here that companies stand to gain the most in terms of brand reputation. Traditionally, diversity and inclusion policies have been focused on factors such as gender, race, sexual orientation, cultural background, age, and those with disabilities. In the online world, however, there are a whole host of additional conditions that put users at a disadvantage, yet we don’t necessarily think of as a disability. This includes vision problems, motor difficulties, cognitive impairments, language issues, and learning difficulties. There are over 1 billion people around the world who suffer from one or more of these disabilities, and their combined spending power is estimated to be around $6 trillion. So there are obvious financial benefits to being inclusive online, but there are also many benefits to your brand and reputation… What are the Brand Benefits of Being Inclusive? In short, welcoming people with varied disabilities and access needs allow you to promote your commitment to inclusion, the benefits of which include: More people having positive experiences with your brand. Building more brand ambassadors who are loyal to your brand. Demonstrating corporate social responsibility and community support. Better SEO results - SEO best practices and conformance to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) already overlap more than people think, and early indicators suggest that Google and other search engines will soon be incorporating accessibility factors into their algorithms. At Recite Me, we are confident that the resulting advantages outweigh any effort that is required to become inclusive, and there are several different ways to look at these benefits from different perspectives when conducting your cost-benefit analysis… The Customer Perspective If your company isn’t viewed as being inclusive, some customers simply will not spend their hard-earned dollars on your products and services. Recently, Forbes reported that 52% of all adult online consumers consider a company’s values when making a purchase. That rate is even higher among the Millennial and Gen Z generations, who are incredibly socially conscious in their purchasing habits. So to maximise sales, build stronger customer relationships, widen the customer base, and ultimately enhance profit margins, companies must be inclusive. The Employee Perspective Being an inclusive employer evokes a feeling of pride across the whole organisation, so there are benefits to be found in staff satisfaction, loyalty, and reduced turnover rates. Being inclusive also sets you apart as an employer of choice and will increase the pool of candidates who want to interview, work, and stay with you. And by attracting a more diverse team, you will gain a wider perspective and become more innovative. Being ‘The Good Guy’ Customers favour brands that care about helping others. In a world where consumers are increasingly value-driven, any company that actively promotes inclusivity in its operations will gain a more positive brand identity. Being a supporter of the community is important, and having empathy and making adjustments for the benefit of more marginalised members of our society is deemed a valuable quality. So prioritising web accessibility presents a great opportunity to generate positive PR. Not Being ‘The Bad Guy’ One of the main pitfalls of not being inclusive (along with reduced revenue and legal implications) is the increased risk of tarnishing your brand reputation. One of the best examples of this is Domino’s Pizza, who were sued by Guillermo Robles, a blind man who was unable to order food on the company’s website. Domino’s response was to take the case to the Supreme Court by arguing that the American Disabilities Act (ADA) should not apply to the digital world. The lack of empathy shown by the company backfired, resulting in a particularly brutal brand bashing on Twitter, and an overall negative public response. Becoming a Market Leader Embracing accessibility and becoming inclusive to all customers sets you apart from your competition. As it stands, fewer than 10% of businesses have a targeted plan to access the disability market, and over 98% of homepages across 1 million popular websites failed to meet legal accessibility standards in 2019. So by prioritising accessibility and inclusion on your website ahead of your competitors, you have more chance of cutting out a niche for yourself and gaining more customers. Plus, your products and services will be perceived as more credible and authentic. “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 The Financial Incentive Making a business accessible online increases profits as well as brand attraction, and allows your company to compete for its share in the $6 trillion disability market. What’s more, the initial outlay is normally negligible compared to the benefits, especially when you consider that: 71% of web users simply leave a site that they find hard to use. 83% of people with access needs limit their shopping to sites that they know are accessible. 86% of users with access needs would spend more if there were fewer barriers. The annual online spending power of people with access needs is now £24.8 billion in the UK and $490 billion in the USA. How to Make Your Website Inclusive We hope by now the ‘why’ is clear, but just how exactly do you go about making your website inclusive? Many businesses allow accessibility and inclusion factors to slip to the bottom of their ‘to do’ lists, as they think them too complex, expensive, or difficult to work with. But the truth is, it’s actually very straightforward and much more cost-effective than you’d think to make your website inclusive. The main steps to consider are as follows. Your Website Build - Most web designers 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, but a few key examples are: 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 Compliance with Accessibility Legislation & Guidelines - It is expected by law that businesses and service providers do not treat those with disabilities less favourably. The World Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide minimum standards that all business globally should adhere to, and outside of this, there will be additional 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) Utilising Assistive Technology – Software solutions like the Recite Me assistive toolbar promote inclusivity by allowing those with sight loss, cognitive impairments, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, and varying linguistic needs to access your website in the 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. Learn More About Becoming Inclusive If you would like to enhance your brand reputation by joining thousands of other businesses who have already made their websites inclusive, we invite you to contact our team for more information. We are happy to advise you on compliance procedures and guide you through the process, and we already have experience in installing our software on websites across a wide range of sectors. So whatever field your organisation lies in, we can make a big difference to your brand!

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Abertay Housing Association launches online accessibility support

07 Sep 2020 | news

To support everyone visiting the Abertay Housing Association website to access important information regarding social housing, they now provide Recite Me accessibility software. Across the United Kingdom, 14.1 million people lie with a disability and there are 11.8 Million residents aged 65 years and over, all of which can experience barriers when online. The Recite Me accessibility support toolbar will enable all staff and website visitors to read and understand important information easily on the Abertay Housing website. Across Dundee and Angus Abertay Housing support people in vulnerable situations with 1,800 houses to enhance the quality of life across their communities. This includes over 270 retirement housing properties across the city. It is vital that they are able to communicate with the people that need support the most, which includes on our website. Everyone visiting the Abertay Housing Association website will now be able to customise their website with a number of unique features. These assistive technology 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. Marjorie Sloan, Corporate Services Director commented, “We have been considering adding an accessibility tool to our website for some time, and Recite Me provides all we were looking for. We hope it will assist people to easily access the information provided.”

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UK Students Return to a New Way of Learning

01 Sep 2020 | news

UK schools are set to return this week, but there is heated debate over safety concerns regarding COVID-19, and whether pupils returning to a traditional school setting will cause a surge in cases. The government is confident that the plans they have in place will ensure safety for all students and staff, but after several hiccups in the education sector thus far, most notably the fiasco over GSCE and A-Level grading, confidence among the general public is divided. “It’s a very, very, difficult situation trying to balance the needs of a younger generation with the health needs of society,” Becky Francis, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation One thing that is not in question, however, is the need for the education of our younger members of society to resume. Not only is this crucial for students that have fallen behind in their studies since the closure of schools earlier in the year, but also to avoid lower academic achievement in general that would translate into a longer-term economic cost in terms of having a less well-qualified workforce. In the post-COVID-19 economy, the youth workforce is likely to be the sector most called upon to contribute to recovery efforts and to do so, they will need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to address current issues and confront future disruptions. How Technology Can Help The main principle of the current plan is to reduce the amount of physical contact between children and staff by separating groups into ‘bubbles’ and maintaining adequate distance between individuals. Not an easy task while simultaneously trying to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum. However, by embracing technology schools can reduce contact between groups of students and teachers, and at the same time remove learning barriers and enrich the experiences of young learners: If students are enabled with online resources, they have on-demand access to both learning materials and teacher assistance should they need it, but without needing to be within physical reach of their teacher. With online resources, education doesn’t have to stop when the school day finishes. With more independent online learning solutions, students can work at their own pace, while also having access to teachers, resources, and assignments anywhere they have an internet connection. It has been proven that more technological ways of learning promote practical thinking and collaboration skills in students, rather than them simply memorising information. Plus, simultaneously, they are assimilating additional skills in the use of technology itself. Individual Barriers While the use of technology may encourage individual learning, it is important to consider that not everyone learns in the same way. Different learning styles and different abilities must be accounted for, and digital materials must be inclusive of everyone with different needs. So education providers must ensure that information is accessible to all, rather than just available to all. Again, this is no easy task when you consider that: In the UK, there are approximately 351,000 people under the age of 17 who have a learning disability Approximately 200,000 children in England alone have special education needs One in every five children has attention issues More than 25,000 children aged 16 and under in the UK have vision impairments At least 10% of all UK schoolchildren are dyslexic Some students learn in a second language Up to 6% of all UK school children suffer from some form of physical disability All of these students are disadvantaged in different ways in an online environment, as it is almost impossible for any stand-alone online learning portal to accommodate the broad spectrum of barriers that face these 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. Our unique assistive toolbar is an accessibility solution that allows students to customise a website in the way that works best for them, and in doing so compensates for numerous access barriers including: Visual impairments Deafblindness Colour blindness Dyslexia Hyperlexia Dyspraxia Autism ADHD Speaking English as a second language Epilepsy Mobility and physical impairments Planning Ahead for Remote Learning We all hope that the return of students to traditional school settings goes well and that there are no adverse effects in terms of a rise in COVID-19 cases. But if the worst should happen and schools are once more forced to close, it is important that there is a cohesive plan in place to help students continue their studies. In the summer term, parents and teachers muddled through the best they could with a combination of homeschooling and online classes. But most would agree that this is not an ideal long-term solution, especially as many parents have now returned to their workplaces. Studies have shown that remote learning can be effective, however, large scale remote learning is not something that many education providers are set up for at the current time. This is especially true when considering the number of school children with varying accessibility needs. Providing equal access and the same level of inclusion online as with in-person teaching is a challenge without assistive technology to break down those accessibility barriers. So education providers must be proactive and prepared ahead of time in order to ensure that they can meet the needs of all students. Many schools and educational bodies have already begun the process of uploading learning materials onto their website, which is a great first step in terms of making recourses available. But to make them accessible by all, additional tools like the Recite Me assistive toolbar would be required. This is the easy part however, as once all of the required content is available online, it becomes instantly accessible once our toolbar has been successfully installed. What’s more, our installations are generally much quicker and easier than most people imagine. "Having the Recite Me app means we can communicate with all who visit the website, whether they have a learning disability, physical disability or language barrier. "With technology advancing, most of our visitors access our website via mobile devices and smartphones, so the cloud-based software allows us to provide college information to all anywhere and anytime " Lisa Robertson,Digital Marketing Officer, New College Lanarkshire How Does It Work? The Recite Me 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: 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. Find Out More Thousands of organisations already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible, including many institutions in the education sector. By working together to improve access to online materials and remote learning resources, we believe we can make a real difference and help education organisations 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.

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6 Reasons Why Making Your Website Accessible Is The Right Thing To Do

26 Aug 2020 | news

The whole point of having a company website is to showcase your products and services to as wide an audience as possible. So why not make your website accessible and inclusive to as many people as you can? After all, the internet is a daily fixture in most people’s lives. So much so, that recent studies show the average person in the UK spends anything up to a whole day online every week. That’s one in every seven hours of our lives spent on the internet! Virtually everything we do requires us to spend time online, whether it’s banking, paying bills, shopping, reading the news, or booking a holiday. So it is vitally important that websites are not just accessible, but usable by all. Everyone should have the opportunity to be able to access online content, yet there are over one billion people globally who face barriers when visiting inaccessible websites. “The one argument for accessibility that doesn’t get made nearly often enough is how extraordinarily better it makes some people’s lives. How many opportunities do we have to dramatically improve people’s lives just by doing our job a little better?” Steve Krug, a prominent website user experience expert. Recite Me assistive technology provides your customers with the online tools they need to understand and engage with your products and services. It also allows you to support people who are neurodiverse, visually impaired, speak English as a second language, or are of old age. So using our software isn’t just the smart thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. Here’s why… 2 Million People in the UK Have a Visual Impairment The term ‘visual impairment’ covers a whole range of issues including partial blindness, deafblindness, and colour blindness. For those who suffer from any of these conditions, accessing information online is much more difficult, whether due to the size and font used, the layout of the text, the colour of the text, or the colour contrast between the text and the background. 15% of the UK Population has a Learning Difficulty The most common learning disability in the UK is Dyslexia, which affects at least 10% of the population and impacts many levels of comprehension including reading, writing, and spelling. ADHD is the second most common learning disability, and is a hyperactivity and attention disorder. Those who suffer from ADHD will typically have problems focusing and are easily distracted. Other prominent learning difficulties include Hyperlexia and Dyspraxia. Hyperlexics can read words but not necessarily understand their meaning, while Dyspraxics often have language problems and experience a certain degree of difficulty with thought and perception. One in Ten People in the UK Speak English as a Second Language While many of us may speak a second language, most of us would default back to our mother tongue to research and communicate online. Even something seemingly simple like finding contact details to email a company or call a customer service or sales helpline can be extremely difficult when you have to navigate a website in a second language. Not to mention more complex tasks like researching financial options, shopping online, using booking sites, or filling in online forms and applications. One in Five People in the UK has a Disability Disabilities come in many forms. The stereotype of a disabled person is typically someone who is physically impaired or wheelchair-bound, and most companies tend not to think of this affecting online access. In reality, however, the term covers a whole range of mobility and cognitive issues. For example, someone with a physical mobility problem in their upper body may be a keyboard-only user, whereas someone with epilepsy may not be able to access sites with media or graphics that could cause a seizure. 11.8 Million UK Residents Are Aged 65 and Over The internet is an important tool in assisting older people to lead independent lives. As the ageing population increases, so does the percentage of the entire population with disabilities and visual impairments. So more accessible websites are required to reach this part of the community so that the elderly do not become excluded online or miss out on valuable information and services. 1 in 6 Adults are Affected by Hearing Loss This means that one in six consumers are predominantly reliant on the internet rather than a face to face or telephone conversation to access the information, products, services, and assistance they need. Couple this with the fact that many who suffer from hearing loss may also be older, disabled, speak English as a second language, or suffer with a learning difficulty and the need for having more accessible websites becomes even clearer. How Does Recite Me Assistive Technology Cater to All Accessibility Needs? Recite Me assistive technology gives users the ability to fully customise the look of a website for personal ease of use. Our toolbar comprises a number of accessibility features that can be used individually or combined to make multiple adjustments and therefore account for all access barriers: Personalisation for font size, type, spacing, and colour. Options to change the colour contrast between text and background. A screen mask to provide colour tinting and block visual clutter. A “text-only” mode that strips away any media and/or graphics and allows users to reposition text on the screen. Additional reading aids such as an on-screen ruler. A language converter that can translate text into over 100 different on-screen languages. Options to download content as an audio file. Text can be read aloud at different speeds with either a male or a female voice. Text-to-speech functions in 35 languages. A built-in dictionary and thesaurus to check word definitions. What Have You Got to Lose? In short, nothing! The initial investment will likely be negligible when you consider all of the gains: The ability to reach a wider audience - 71% of users leave a site that they find hard to use, and 83% of people with access needs limit their shopping to sites that they know are accessible. Increased traffic and sales conversions - 86% of users with access needs would spend more if there were fewer barriers, and the online spending power of people with access needs in the UK is £24.8 billion. An enhanced brand image and reputation – stand out from your competition by demonstrating social responsibility through being inclusive. Fewer legal implications - it is expected by law that businesses and service providers do not treat disabled people less favourably. So really, the question is why wouldn’t you want to make your website accessible and inclusive, rather than why you would. Want to Know More? To date we have installed our software on over 2000 websites across various industry sectors, so we have the knowledge and experience needed to guide you through the process and make your transition towards inclusion a seamless one. Contact our team today for further information and to learn more about how to provide an inclusive and custom experience for your website users. You can also book a demonstration of our toolbar.

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Supporting the Elderly Online

21 Aug 2020 | news

The internet gives elderly people the ability to connect with relatives and friends on a regular basis, and is an important tool in general in assisting senior citizens to lead independent lives. Providing accessible websites is the best way to guarantee their inclusion and ensure they do not become more vulnerable or excluded from the information, services, and support networks they need. Our Ageing Population The global share of the population made up by those aged 65 and over rose from 6% in 1990 to 9% in 2019. As of this year, there are over 703 million people aged 65 years or over in the world, and this figure is projected to double to 1.5 billion by 2050. As the ageing population increases, so does the percentage of the entire population with disabilities, visual impairments, and hearing loss. Plus, there are millions of older internet users who speak English as a second language, and millions more who struggle with learning difficulties or attention disorders that combine with the general barriers brought on by old age. So more often than not, multiple adjustments are required for older internet users to be able to use websites more easily. The Elderly & Technology Use Most older people use tablets and desktop computers to access the internet, although recent trends point to a year on year increase in smartphone usage. There is a general consensus among the younger population that older people are incapable or unwilling to embrace technology, but this is very much a misconception. Even the Queen of England, who is now 94, uses a smartphone and has Instagram and Twitter accounts! Did you know that: 71% of elderly internet users go online every day 11 % of elderly internet users go online between 3 and 5 times per week 20% of grandparents use email to communicate with their families How do Older People Use the Internet? Like most people, senior citizens use the internet to access the information, products, and services they need the most: 66% use it to get information about healthcare and medical services 58% use it to access local businesses and government websites 55% use it for banking and financial activities 55% follow groups and organisations on social networks 40% use it to stay up to date with news and political/policy information that affects them Given this information, it becomes vitally important that our older population is supported properly online. Covid-19 restrictions have made communication harder as wait times for customer service helplines are now significantly longer, and many brick and mortar customer service outlets remain closed. This means that going online is often the only way to access information. Therefore, it is incredibly stressful for senior citizens looking for help with their health, banking, or paying bills etc., when websites are not accessible. Imagine dealing with all of the regular challenges of living through the Covid-19 pandemic, plus having to deal with accessibility barriers to essential information and services needed to keep you informed and safe. It is under these circumstances that vulnerability levels increase, as any inequality in access to information leads by default to inequalities in access to services and support. In addition to obtaining everyday information online, older people also use the internet for shopping. In fact, seniors are the fastest-growing consumer age group in the world and the annual spending power of those aged 60 plus is estimated to be as high as 15 trillion. So, we strongly recommend that no business skips out on important accessibility steps that would prevent older users from being able to access their products and services. How to Make Websites More Senior Citizen Friendly We’ve all heard the phrase ‘respect your elders’, and these days, the ultimate respect we can give to the ageing population is to ensure that all the information they need is easily accessible to them online. If you manage a website that is important to the senior citizen market, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) break down the recommendations and requirements to help you become more inclusive of older users. However, simply ticking the box on accessibility doesn’t necessarily make your website inclusive. What makes a website truly inclusive is giving people as many choices as possible so they can customise your website and consume the information in a way that is tailored to their own individual needs. This is where Recite Me can help. Our 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. Specific toolbar functions that benefit senior citizens include: Personalisation options for font size, type, and colour to make each web page easier to read The ability to download content as an audio file, negating the need to read long sections of text Text to speak functions in 35 different languages, thus supporting those with English literacy issues Additional tools like an on-screen mask and ruler, allowing those who find it difficult to focus not to be distracted by other content on the page A content converter that can translate text into over 100 different on-screen languages, which is ideal for all elderly citizens for whom English is not their first language Want to Know More? If you’re not sure whether your website is accessible or inclusive of the senior citizen market, feel free to contact our team to find out more, or book a demonstration of our assistive toolbar. Being inclusive of everyone in our society is the right thing to do, and you’d be joining over 500 happy companies who have already succeeded in making their websites accessible and inclusive of the ageing population, including: NHS trusts Healthwatch services Emergency services providers Local councils Disability rights groups Utility companies

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Healthwatch Cheshire CIC

18 Aug 2020 | case-study

Healthwatch Cheshire West is the local independent consumer champion for Health and Social Care services in Cheshire West and Chester. They Engage directly with a wide range of people in the community to gain the richness of people’s views and stories. Having conversations with people makes them better understand issues that are affecting people regarding health and care, and how they can support them by signposting them to services, organisations, or groups that can help.

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The Hospitality Industry: The Importance of Diversity & Inclusion in an Everyday Setting

17 Aug 2020 | news

The reopening of bars and restaurants as part of the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions has been met enthusiastically by companies, corporations and consumers alike. In 2018, the hospitality sector was the third-largest employer in the UK, so businesses in the industry have been hit hard this year and were welcoming of the opportunity to open their doors once more. Likewise, customers have been grateful for the chance to reclaim some normality in their social lives and even venture out for a few restaurant meals. It’s not exactly business as usual, however, as there are several restrictions governing the specifics of indoor versus outdoor service, social distancing, ensuring limited numbers by facilitating advance bookings, and collecting data for track and trace purposes, etc. So it’s a bit more complicated than before, but in general, everyone should now be able to go out a little again if they want to. Bars and Restaurants in 2020 Although patrons can now visit their regular watering holes and favourite restaurants again, the process is almost certainly not as spontaneous as before. The government has published many guidance documents detailing measures required for businesses to operate safely. On the technological side, this includes a number of rules and recommendations for: Booking ahead online Using contactless apps for ordering food Providing online forms to collect names, phone numbers and email addresses of customers For most people, this may add an element of frustration, but is essentially just a mild inconvenience. However, for many in our society, these measures could be a barrier to inclusion. There are millions of UK residents who struggle to access information on websites due to: Vision problems Physical disabilities Learning difficulties Language issues Why should these people miss out on the same opportunities and privileges as the rest of society, just because they struggle to access or assimilate information in the same way? They shouldn’t! And why wouldn’t hospitality businesses want to be inclusive and cast their net as wide as possible in order to achieve a larger customer base? They should! Especially at a time where the sector is already struggling to bounce back from an economic downturn. This is where Recite Me can help. We truly believe in accessibility for all and specialise in the provision of inclusive software that allows equal access to information online for those who are visually impaired, neurodiverse, speak English as a second language, or struggle with cognitive or physical disabilities. The Importance of Digital Inclusion in the Hospitality Sector Hospitality businesses can benefit significantly from being more inclusive online. In the here and now, the importance may be focussed on not missing out on further custom due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, even in more normal times, the target market for businesses in the hospitality sector comprises a large number of those who are more likely to encounter accessibility barriers: Foreign tourists who don’t speak English as a first language. Older people who are more likely to struggle with vision problems and mobility issues. All tourists who spend several weeks – or even months – researching their holiday plans online. So for hospitality businesses, embracing inclusion means an opportunity to reach and retain more potential customers all of the time, not just in 2020. Maximum Gain Through Inclusion The online spending power of people with access needs in the UK is £24.8 billion, so the financial incentive alone should be enough for most businesses to give some serious thought to their digital inclusion policies. Plus, being inclusive is the right thing to do, and as an extra bonus, it comes with a feeling of pride that resonates throughout the entire company. This is especially important in hospitality, where the well-known mantra ‘happy staff = happy customers’ is rarely far from the minds of savvy business owners and managers. So there are even some sideline benefits to be found in staff satisfaction, loyalty, and reduced turnover rates. Does it Really Work? Absolutely, and businesses who have taken the step towards inclusion are already seeing the benefits. Take The Inn Collection Group as an example. The Inn Collection Group has several pub and accommodation properties across the North of England, and installed Recite Me software onto their website in 2019. Not only did this make their digital content more accessible and useable for everyone, but it resulted in better online experiences for potential customers which in turn translated into increased sales and bookings. "The Inn Collection Group is all about being inclusive and welcoming to everyone. This starts with guests locating us online and having full accessibility to our websites to make informed decisions. But it’s also about embedding diversity and inclusion into our operations and mission statement so people choose to eat, drink, sleep and explore with us, as well as choose to work for us." Dan Evans, General Manager, The Inn Collection Group Get Recite Me for Your Website It has never been more important that all customers can access and understand information online. Nor has it ever been more important that businesses are able to access and include the entire spectrum of web users. If you’d like more details on how your company can use our assistive technology to maximise your customer base, please feel free to contact our team or book a demonstration of our toolbar.

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Helping People in Vulnerable Circumstances Access Financial Support

10 Aug 2020 | news

With Covid-19 lockdown restrictions lifting, it feels to some degree as if we are finally able to claim a little of our regular routines back. However, due to the impacts on the economy, many households are facing financial troubles. Lots of people have lost their jobs, others have taken pay cuts, and some of the worst affected may have lost their businesses altogether. A significant percentage of the population will be in need of financial support, and those in vulnerable circumstances will be affected the most. With lines of communications blocked or delayed, it is critical that websites are accessible. Recite Me is here to help all public and private sector businesses and organisations to communicate information more effectively by making websites accessible and inclusive of all users. Who are the most Vulnerable Online? We typically think of ‘the vulnerable’ as those with physical or emotional deficits – essentially the aged, the sick, and the immobile. In reality, though, anyone in need of special care falls under the definition of being vulnerable, and in the online world, this means those lacking the tools they need to adequately understand or communicate, and/or those without access to the information they need at all. This includes members of our society who: Have decreased vision - it is estimated that at least 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment. Struggle with literacy – around 1% of the population in developed nations like the UK and USA have issues with basic reading and writing. This figure is significantly higher in less developed nations. Are Autistic – around one in every hundred people is on the autistic spectrum. Speak/read English as a second language – up to 1 in every 5 households speaks a language other than English at home. Suffer from attention disorders – it is estimated that up to 5% of the population suffers from attention disorders like ADHD. Have learning difficulties - dyslexia alone affects as much as 16% of the population. Are affected by physical disabilities – millions of individuals have physical disabilities that make the use of standard keyboards and computers difficult. The Need for Equal Access to Financial Support Most of us take it for granted that we have access to the information we need online, but for those who battle with one or more of the conditions listed above, life just isn’t that simple. All of us have struggled with the realities of Covid-19 in some way or another, so imagine how scary and frustrating it must be to desperately need information about financial support, but not be able to access it - or act on it once you have it. It is under these circumstances that vulnerability levels increase and financial situations can worsen, as any inequality in access to information leads to an inequality of access to services, which can have significant financial impacts on the individuals concerned. This is especially true of those whose job, salary or business is under threat due to the coronavirus pandemic. Where to Look for Help There are already some great companies out there doing a fantastic job in supporting those in tough financial situations: Auriga Services – Auriga Services specialises in supporting people to come out of debt. To date, they have helped 1.9 million people to reduce their financial hardship. The British Gas Energy Trust - This grant-giving charitable trust focusses on helping those who struggle to pay gas and electricity bills get back on their feet and remain debt-free. Both Auriga Services and The British Gas Energy Trust have already installed Recite Me web accessibility software on their websites to help people in vulnerable circumstances gain access to information about financial support. "British Gas Energy Trust helps people in financial need, and accessibility is essential. With the support of Recite Me, we now provide barrier-free access to our online application forms, enabling people with a range of accessibility issues including visual impairments, dyslexia, colour blindness, other forms of neurodiversity, and those who need to use alternative languages, to apply " Jessica Taplin, CEO of British Gas Energy Trust The Recite Me accessibility toolbar is particularly useful for those who find it challenging simply to navigate their online accounts. Our assistive technology allows users to explore and understand their online accounts without needing the additional support of live chat functions or having to spend lengthy waiting times in telephone queues to speak with customer service representatives. Providing Accessible information for All Are you a business or organization looking to make your information and services more accessible online? If yes, then you’re in the right place! The Recite Me assistive toolbar allows those with sight loss, cognitive impairments, learning difficulties, attention disorders, and literacy issues in general, to access your website in a way best suited to their individual requirements. It also incorporates different linguistic needs. Users can: Personalise font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read. Download content as an audio file as an alternative to reading. Access text to speak functions in 35 different languages. Have text read aloud at varying speeds. Utilise a screen mask and ruler for better focus. Convert text into over 100 different on-screen languages. Make use of the toolbar’s built-in dictionary and thesaurus. Switch to “text-only” mode to strip away graphics and page clutter. For a limited period, Recite Me is offering a free accessible and inclusive landing page for any business, allowing organisations to share COVID-19 related messages and information with staff and customers. This is a great first step to take, and in terms of access to details about financial support specifically, could be a real lifeline and make a considerable difference to those struggling with financial worry coupled by online accessibility issues. Of course, having just one webpage accessible to everyone is not a long term solution, but it’s a good way to start while you take a tour of our toolbar and chat with our team about installing our accessibility software on the entirety of your site.

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Basketball Ireland Provides Accessibility Support Online

05 Aug 2020 | news

To support people with challenges online, Basketball Ireland now provides Recite Me assistive technology to enable all visitors to read and understand content easily. Providing accessibility and language support on their website removes barriers for people with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, and if people speak English as a second language. Basketball Ireland (B.I.) has always been committed to inclusion and is continuously looking at ways to become more accessible in every facet of their organisation. (B.I.) recently launched its Disability Inclusion Policy which sees them support and develop an inclusive environment for children and adults within their clubs, programmes, coaches, volunteers and players. To continue to push this inclusion policy forward they have expanded their focus to digital accessibility and the ability to enable everyone to access key basketball information on their website easily. This innovative accessibility software will help bring people closer to the sport by enabling everyone to read and engage with content in a way that suits their individual needs. The Recite Me assistive toolbar provides a number of options to enable full control of the website through a screen reader, fully customizable styling options, reading aids and a translation tool with over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices. Sports Inclusion Disability Officer, Paul Carr commented: “Investing in Recite Me has brought the accessibility of our sport for people to the next level. We want to make the experience for the reader from anywhere in the world on the website the best possible and giving our supporters control of how the website looks to them will enable all supporters to easily access the information they want.”

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Basketball Ireland

05 Aug 2020 | case-study

Basketball Ireland (B.I.) is the national governing body for the sport on the island of Ireland. Part of FIBA, the World Governing body, B.I. is responsible for the promotion and administration of basketball throughout Ireland and for Irish international participation. Irish Basketball affiliated with FIBA in 1947 and basketball became firmly established as a recognised sport in Ireland.

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Recite Me announces strategic partnership with Rezoomo to create a unique candidate experience

05 Aug 2020 | news

Recite Me assistive technology has been embedded into the Rezoomo’s talent acquisition software to provide an inclusive experience when attracting, engaging, and managing candidates. Rezoomo brings together the best of an ATS, CRM, and employer branding in one solution. This partnership will enable the Rezoomo experience for applicants and job seekers to be fully inclusive with the ability to customise their journey. The addition of Recite Me technology will allow each user to customise the look and feel of the software to suit their individual needs. When enabled visitors will be able to access a toolbar full of accessibility and language support options. These features include text to speech functionality, fully customisable styling features, reading aids and a translation tool with over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices and many other features. The Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI) surveyed 4,000 people and found 75% of disabled jobseekers find their condition has an impact on job hunting and 54% find hurdles at multiple stages of the recruitment process. Being able to support a candidate journey online can only attract a larger talent pool and enable them to express their true talents. Cathal Doorley CEO of Rezoomo commented, "Candidate Experience is at the heart of Rezoomo, our passion and aim is to make recruitment easy and engaging for everyone and accessible for all. When we learnt how Recite Me enables people to access information the way they want we knew this was a partnership that not only would enrich the wider candidate experience, but it was core to our aim and mission making perfect sense" Ross Linnett, Founder and CEO, Recite Me commented, “Creating a partnership with Rezoomo was a no-brainer. Being able to create an inclusive experience for a candidate that is easy to use, and which enables them to express their true talents without experiencing any barriers is a solution that Recite Me want to support and be a part of.” To find out more about how Rezoomo and Recite Me have created a fully inclusive talent acquisition platform to attract, engage and manage candidates, join us for our latest webinar, “How to create an inclusive candidate journey” on Tuesday 25th August at 11 am. Click here to find out more and book your space.

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WEBINAR: How to create an inclusive candidate journey

05 Aug 2020 | event

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

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The Challenges of Remote Learning for Students in America

04 Aug 2020 | news

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.

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Meningitis Now provide accessibility & language support online

31 Jul 2020 | news

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.”

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Meningitis Now

31 Jul 2020 | case-study

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.

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