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Accessibility at Everyone Active

21 Oct 2021 | news

During our accessibility awareness week we are on a mission to bring people together to delve into a broad range of accessibility, diversity and inclusion topics. To find out more about inclusive fitness we caught up with Erin Flower, Group Marketing Manager, at Everyone Active. Everyone Active is the longest-established leisure operator in the UK and manages over 200 leisure centres. Their mission is to encourage everyone to participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity either in a centre or via online training, five times per week. Read our Q&A with Erin below. Who are you? My name is Erin Flower and I’m the Group Marketing Manager for Everyone Active. My role is a varied one, ranging from co-ordinating printed media for our 200+ nationwide centres to managing the brand and tone of voice across print and digital assets, including social media and content for the website. This of course also encompasses helping to ensure that all our marketing materials – whether digital or printed – are as accessible as possible. What does accessibility mean to you? To me, accessibility means ensuring that all facilities – whatever they are – are available to everyone, regardless of age, race, disability (or ability) or anything else. These facilities can be both physical and ethereal. So, for example, anyone should be able to use a cinema, restaurant, website, enjoy music or, indeed make use of their local leisure centre regardless of any of the factors outlined previously. Why is inclusive fitness important to Everyone Active? If we here at Everyone Active didn’t believe in inclusive fitness, then our mission to help everyone get active for at least 30 minutes, five times a week wouldn’t mean anything. We also like to see our centres not just as leisure centres for people to use when they wish, but as centres of the community in which they are based as well. This means people come to socialise, they bring their children for swimming lessons, or they come in order to help themselves recuperate from illness or injury. Everyone Active doesn’t just provide facilities to individuals, but a service to entire communities up and down the country. These communities are made up of people of all ages and fitness levels, both disabled and able-bodied people and it’s our responsibility to ensure that, as far as possible, everyone gets to enjoy our centres. Why is diversity and inclusion important to you? Once again, it’s important to me because I believe in Everyone Active’s mission to get more people doing 30 minutes of activity, five times a week and that includes everyone. Regardless of age, fitness ability, race, or whether someone’s disabled, or able-bodied, we all have the right to an active lifestyle and it’s part of my role – one that’s very important to me – to make sure everyone has that opportunity. How has Everyone Active tackled the increase in online activity to make sure they continue to be inclusive? Everyone Active’s digital offering is a vital part of what we bring to the table and it’s important that everything we do online is as accessible as possible. One of the most important ways in which we do this is implementing the Recite Me toolbar. This helps to break down some of the most common barriers to accessibility in the digital space. It does this by translating the content into a number of different languages, enabling the content to be read aloud for blind and sight-impaired users and slightly altering the styling of the website to make it easier for those with learning difficulties to read and use the website. That’s not all, however. Everything – both in digital and print formats – is written in a clear and concise manner to make it as easy to read as possible and all images on the website are tagged with descriptive alt texts to allow the screen reader to describe the picture accurately. We also understand that while people may wish to stay active, they may not be able to get to or could be uncomfortable in our centres. That’s why we also host free workout sessions on our social media pages. These include everything from exhausting Les Mills BODYCOMBAT classes to seated workouts for people who experience mobility issues. Everyone Active also has a digital-only offering called Everyone On Demand, which offers a huge variety of classes that are designed to suit everyone regardless of age, mobility or fitness level. It’s been designed as a 360-degree solution and includes an app that concentrates on mindfulness so our members can concentrate on their mental health, as well as getting active physically. Can you share an example of providing support for someone with additional needs? Everyone Active is dedicated to ensuring all our members get the most out of their time with us – whether that’s in centre or interacting with us via one of our digital platforms. With that in mind, centres in Stratford-upon-Avon have recently introduced the ‘Quiet Hours’ initiative to help support members with autism. Stratford Leisure Centre, Shipston Leisure Centre, Southam Leisure Centre and The Greig Leisure Centre have all implemented this initiative to help make the centres more welcoming to people living with autism. The initiative will introduce dedicated hours of no loud music or loud noise in their gyms in an effort to create a more welcoming, calmer environment for people on the autistic spectrum. But that’s not all that’s going on in Stratford. They’re also running dementia awareness workshops for colleagues to help make them more mindful of members who may be suffering with the condition. The centres are also fitted out with IFI (Inclusive Fitness Initiative)-accredited equipment in the gym to help make fitness more accessible for people with additional needs, while a major 2015 refurbishment of Stratford Leisure centre was done in consultation with Accessible Stratford. This helped ensure it met the needs of the entirety of the local community. What do you hope for the future for activity centres in terms of accessibility? While we always try the best we can, there is always room for improvement. In some of our older centres, we are constrained by physical factors in that structurally we can’t make certain doorways or corridors wider, unfortunately. With every new build, however, and every refurbishment, we are working hard with organisations including the Accessibility Alliance to make sure our centres are accessible is one of the key focuses of any new centre. Looking into the future, we’re always looking for new ways to provide more accessible services for our members. With that in mind, we’re partnering with a company called Synergy Dance. With Everyone Active, Synergy Dance will offer a range of digital dance and Yoga classes designed specifically with those with special needs and disabilities in mind. The company’s passionate and dedicated team ensures no one is left behind, ensuring the benefits of Synergy Dance, such as improved creativity and self-esteem, enhanced coordination, and developed teamwork and leadership skills, are felt by everyone. Workouts and courses are further tailored to suit the needs of children, adults and seniors experiencing long-term health conditions, with exciting classes such as audio dance and Yoga for the blind and visually impaired. This is just one way in which we here at Everyone Active are working to improve the accessible services we offer. We’re always looking to make things better and that, to me, is exciting. We don’t just offer services to a certain strata of society, but we want our sites to be open to everyone and be centres of the community in which they are based and I think with every passing year, we are making progress towards making that a reality.

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Jade Haase, Head of Marketing, Talks Accessibility at Murray McIntosh

20 Oct 2021 | news

Our first ‘What Does Accessibility Mean to Me?’ awareness week is well underway, and it has been amazing to hear from so many different people across a variety of industries. Today we are shining a spotlight on the recruitment sector - we caught up with Jade Haase, Head of Marketing at Murray McIntosh to discuss all things accessibility. Launched in 2015, Murray McIntosh is a recruitment agency who specialise in Engineering and Policy, Public Affairs & Comms sectors. They are committed to diversity and inclusion, as part of this commitment they provide Recite Me assistive technology on their website to enable an inclusive online experience. Read our Q&A with Jade below. 1. Who are you? Jade Brar-Haase, Head of Marketing at Murray McIntosh 2. What does accessibility mean to you? In all honesty, if you had asked me before my subsequent research and prior to joining MMA, I would have focussed on issues surrounding physical accessibility. Now that I have started my own learning journey, I’d say that accessibility is about making all opportunities, processes and both physical & virtual spaces readily available/accessible for all. 3. Why is accessibility important for the recruitment sector? Before we start examining working environments and their inclusivity processes, which is obviously of paramount importance, we need to look at the journey of the job seeker and employer in getting there. Firstly, the landscape has changed. As a society, we have become increasingly more conscious of the individuals that make up our local communities and as such we now expect businesses to create processes that cater for all. The recruitment process should be no different. For many job seekers, just knowing that a prospective employer has worked – or is working – to create a fair and accessible recruitment process can make them far more attractive to work for. At Murray McIntosh, the recruitment process is so much more than “finding and placing” candidates, we strategically partner with our clients on a long-term basis to improve their employer brand, hiring processes and D&I policies. Secondly, accessibility is important to all sectors. If we consider the ‘social model’ as a point of reference, you can’t help but become more aware of the societal barriers that have been created. Once identified, you can begin to remove them and/or consider the appropriate solutions to do so. By doing this you will have taken steps in creating an accessible organisation and perhaps an equitable culture that embraces the breadth and depth of our communities. With our clients, in particular, we have seen a cultural shift that has spearheaded a mission to “represent the communities they serve”. Hiring and departmental managers are actively making accessibility, inclusion and diversity part of their recruitment brief to make this mission a reality. Clients want clear, tangible actions to ensure that all candidates can apply and that they will be considered fairly throughout the process. 4. What type of barriers do job seekers/applicants face (online and offline) It is surprising to see just how many companies don’t have the basics of an accessibility bar integrated on their website or careers page at the least. This all-singing all-dancing tool is a really simple way to offer a more accessible online journey for so many people. The next stage is the job description itself. Without knowing it, we are all likely to adopt some bias in our writing style. That doesn’t mean we are intentionally excluding people, it’s just a disadvantage of human nature. We are all different, with diverse experiences behind us, which in turn impacts our style of communication. Investing in an artificial intelligence tool to remove biases such as gender, race, ageism and sexuality is a must for companies that are serious about creating a more inclusive process. As an example, did you know that a job description containing lengthy bullet points is more likely to result in fewer female applications? There is so much research into biased language and its link to human behaviour, that it would be impossible to become an expert overnight, but the need to change is now. So, finding a reputable AI tool that can analyse and correct this communication for you is a no brainer. Ultimately, much of this is opinion based. It’s easy to get siloed into finding the perfect mix of technologies to support each impairment, but many disabled people choose not to use assistive technology because they feel more comfortable using their adapted process for a non-accessible world. 5. How do you think the pandemic has affected organisations’ consideration for online accessibility? At the start of the pandemic, many businesses were essentially forced to create a work from home solution. While the process to finesse those parameters is lengthy, experimental and most likely still ongoing, many organisations found surprising benefits to the new method. Some even reported an increase in productivity rather than the anticipated decline. The unprecedented restrictions placed on businesses resulted in a much-needed evolution of workplace policies and a critical review of the motivations behind them. Many companies have welcomed ‘work from home’ to stay as part of a hybrid working scheme, or in some cases as a permanent move. While working from home isn’t for everybody, it has made employment more accessible for those that were previously unable to travel into a central office location for various reasons. Another benefit for businesses is that they are more open to engaging talent from a larger catchment area, which has increased the number of high-calibre and diverse applicants, boosting productivity exponentially. 6. Can you share an example of providing support for someone with additional needs? Yes, we can, but it probably isn’t the answer you’d expect where we list a host of tools or prescribe an innovative process. As a recent example, we had a candidate that was dyslexic and had ADHD. We didn’t create or adapt the process in any way. The whole point of accessibility is to allow people to experience the same journey as those without impairments. Often it is about creating a platform, a safe and confidential environment, in which candidates are able to talk about their impairments and resulting needs and ensuring that this is something that is reflected Client-side. So, in this example that is exactly what we did. Equipped with a variety of in-house accessibility tools and training, our team were able to work with the client to educate and advise them as to additional considerations for the process. The wish of the candidate was for the interview panel to be aware of their impairments, in the event of any related behaviour, but without the need to address the impairments during the process – thus having the same experience as everybody else. At the time of the interview, both the client and candidate were prepared, relaxed and ready for a typical interview around suitability, skillset and cultural fit. The candidate thrived in the interview and was offered the role. The example shared reflects what many disabled people are looking for in both the recruitment process and in everyday life. Accessibility doesn’t necessarily mean acquiring all the tech and tools possible, it starts with taking the time to treat each person as an individual, understanding their impairment and reacting under the guidance and wishes of the impaired individual.

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Our First Ever Accessibility Awareness Week is Underway!

18 Oct 2021 | news

Hi, I’m Ross, Founder and CEO at Recite Me. I couldn’t be happier to announce the launch of our first ever Accessibility Awareness Week. ‘What Does Accessibility Mean to Me’ awareness week with Recite Me will be running from October 18th- 22nd, 2021. Bringing together business owners, employees, students, and industry experts, we’ll be delving into a broad range of accessibility, diversity, and inclusion topics as the week goes on. Why? Because for all the great things we’ve achieved and the huge leaps forward in web accessibility awareness in the last decade or so, there’s still more work to be done. We hope this week will provide a platform for us to come together with our clients and wider network to raise awareness for web accessibility and give people a voice to express their opinions and experiences. Web Accessibility The internet is a significant part of life. We use it to shop, pay our bills, communicate with friends and family, apply for jobs, book trips, and learn about local services. At 98%, the UK has one of the highest internet penetration rates in the world, and according to Ofcom’s 2020 report, we spend an average of 3 hours and 37 minutes online every day. Most people take access to online information as a given. However, when content fails to meet recognised accessibility standards, many people cannot read, understand, or use the information. I know, because I’m one of them. My Story I’m dyslexic. I didn’t find out until after I’d graduated university, but I’d be lying if I said I’d never suspected there was something different about the way my brain worked. At school, I struggled with subjects that required lots of writing – and reading aloud in front of the class terrified me. It took me much longer than my classmates to figure out word and sentence order. And I could never seem to improve, no matter how hard I tried. Which, for someone as competitive and driven as me, was frustrating. One day after I graduated, I was giving a presentation at work, and a colleague commented that I was displaying all the signs of dyslexia. So I got tested, and my diagnosis was confirmed. It was a relief to finally have an explanation, and I was provided with software support. But, as it only worked on one computer, it was pretty limiting. I knew there had to be a better way, and as smartphones and tablets became more prevalent, having assistive technology on just one device was never going to be practical. That’s the reason I founded Recite me. To give people like me more options and for the internet to be a more inclusive place. And to help businesses understand accessibility requirements and accessibility guidelines so they can support their employees as much as possible. Web Accessibility Guidelines In the last decade, there’s been a collective leap forward in the way people view diversity and inclusion. Every year, more businesses see inclusion as a positive change, and most reputable companies have accessibility statements on their website. Organisations are also trying harder to meet The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which is great to see. WCAG is the gold standard when it comes to web accessibility. While not an official requirement for private enterprises (yet!), government and public sector bodies are expected by law to meet Level AA. And now, with the newest WCAG update due for release in 2022, it’s more important than ever that businesses stay ahead of the curve and actively work towards inclusivity. So…What Does Accessibility Mean to You? We hope this week will help us all develop a much deeper understanding of what accessibility means to all of us. To me, web accessibility opens up the world. Remember the days before we carried the internet around in our pockets? Tasks like renewing a phone contract or switching to a new energy supplier were time-consuming. They meant hours on the phone or a trip down to a physical store to speak to a representative. Now we can accomplish those tasks in seconds within just a few clicks. Well, many people can. The only way everyone can do this is if websites and apps are accessible. That’s why web accessibility is so important to me. Nobody should be at a financial, social, or educational disadvantage just because they read and understand information differently. Here’s a few insights into what accessibility means to other people. The Customer Service Expert’s Perspective To Caroline Wells, CEO of Different Petal, accessibility means treating each customer as an individual with different access requirements, rather than seeing the entire customer base as one entity. “The flexibility needs to be there for customers to communicate in their preferred way. Businesses should be empowering customers by giving them choice, rather than making them ask for alternatives or work harder to get responses. “ The Diversity and Inclusion Professional’s Perspective Alex Greenwood, Head of People and Culture at Derwent fm, on what accessibility means to her as a human resources specialist. “While we must always keep our business objective in mind, we must also create a culture where colleagues feel truly included. Accessibility undoubtedly plays a role in this, and a skilled and knowledgeable HR team within diversity and inclusion at its core is essential to support the overall business plan”. The Client Perspective Vijay Matthew of Howlround Theatre Commons on the importance of true inclusion, rather than compliance box-checking. “Our biggest lesson was learning that simply complying with technical standards is not the same thing as true inclusion. We can’t just check the box of compliance and think that the work is done. It is quite possible to make a website that technically passes all the accessibility tests, but that still is terribly difficult for a person to use.” The End-User Perspective Maria, a Sefton Council Resident, explains why web accessibility and access to assistive software is so important to her. “I have Autism and Dyslexia, and without accessible websites or assistive technology, I can’t access or understand the information I need to stay independent. Being able to make individual changes on the council website and use tools like the ruler and screen reader have been life-changing. Accessibility Best Practices Being accessible means making reasonable adjustments and removing online barriers so that everyone can read and use the information on your website in the same way. Here is a list of steps to work through. Make sure your website build is accessible. Good web developers can help you adapt your site by incorporating best practices for accessibility. Familiarise yourself with the most up-to-date Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and aim for compliance level AA. Gather employee feedback regularly and make sure that employees with disabilities have a say in decision-making processes. Develop an inclusive recruitment process. Give clear direction about how you want your customers to communicate with you, and provide online customer service portals that account for a wide range of users and their varied needs and preferences. Use assistive technology like the Recite Me toolbar to bridge the gap between accessibility and usability, creating an inclusive online experience for everyone. Get Involved What does accessibility mean to you? We hope you’ll all join us this week and get involved to let us know! It’s important that organisations reach out to their employees and discover how people feel about accessibility. Giving everyone a voice to share their experiences and knowledge will bring the workplace together, empower individuals, and improve inclusion. You can download your resource pack, including blogs, social media posts, graphics, email templates, logos and more on our Awareness Week landing page.

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Very Launch Inclusive Careers Support Online

13 Oct 2021 | news

The Very Group, operator of and, has added Recite Me accessibility and language tools to its careers website to promote a diverse talent pool. The Very Group is the UK’s largest integrated online retailer and financial services provider, and values a diverse workforce, and building an open and inclusive culture. To achieve Very’s mission of inclusive recruitment, The Very Group has removed online application barriers for those with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, and those who speak English as a second language. Sean Allen, Very’s Head of Talent, commented, “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.” Assistive technology supports the 1 in 5 people in the UK with a disability by enabling access to The Very Group’s website in a way that best suits an individual’s needs. The Recite Me accessibility and language toolbar on The Very Group Jobs website includes 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. To customise your own digital experience on The Very Group Jobs website, please select the pink ‘Accessibility Tools’ button in the bottom right of the screen. If you would like more information on how your organisation can provide inclusive recruitment by using assistive technology, contact our team or book a real-time demonstration of our toolbar. Making the digital world inclusive for all.

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Why Web Accessibility is Crucial in the Retail Sector

08 Oct 2021 | news

We all know that e-commerce is big business, and with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Christmas season fast approaching, retailers are doubling down on efforts to maximise their sales and revenue. But what if their websites are not accessible to all online shoppers? People with disabilities make up the largest minority group in the world. This includes people with visual impairments, hearing deficits, and cognitive, learning, and neurological disorders, as well as those who are physically disabled. And that’s without considering the millions of online consumers with diverse language needs. Not supporting these shoppers would be a big mistake for online retailers. How Big is the Disabled Shopping Market? Over one billion people worldwide are disabled, and the spending power of disabled people and their families adds up to $8 trillion. We all know that’s a big number, almost incomprehensibly so. So let’s have a look at what 8 trillion dollars could get you in laymen’s terms: 42 million new high-end cars Annual salaries for 18 million teachers 145 million kilograms of gold A home worth half a million for two million people That’s a whole heap of sales for retailers to lose out on because of an inaccessible website. Disability affects approximately one in every five people, so e-commerce businesses that don’t have accessible websites actively exclude 20% of the market and lose revenue to their more accessibility-aware competitors. In the UK, disabled people and their families have a spending power of £249 billion. The online spending power of people with access needs in Australia is AUD54 million. The total disposable income for Americans with disabilities is about $490 billion. Shopping Online Versus Shopping In-Store There has been a noticeable shift in preferences towards shopping online in recent years, and the e-commerce sector continues to expand rapidly. The lockdown and social restrictions of COVID-19 have boosted the demand for online shopping services. The advancement of mobile technology coupled with fast and efficient next-day delivery services – and the simple fact that consumers can shop easily from the comfort of their beds and sofas – are also significant contributing factors. In 2019, only 14.1% of all global sales were e-commerce purchases. By 2021, this figure increased to 18.1%. And by 2023, online sales are expected to account for 22% of global retail spending, totalling a spend of over $6.5 trillion. What Access Barriers to Disabled Shoppers Face? There are hundreds of specific conditions that create barriers to accessing information online. But broadly speaking, there are four key reasons why users cannot access a website. People Can’t Read It – Because the size of the text, the font used, or the colour contrast between the text and background is not suitable, and screen readers and text-to-speech options are unavailable. People Don’t Understand It – Because the web copy is not clearly written, doesn’t run in a logical order, or is not available in their language. People Can’t Navigate It – Because keyboard-only navigation is unavailable to people whose disabilities make smartphone use challenging. People Are Scared of It – Because there are distracting flashing images, videos, or photo carousels that make maintaining their place on a webpage too difficult. What Disabled Users Say According to Think With Google, 63% of all shopping journeys start online, so the onus is on retailers to ensure that their websites are welcoming to all consumers. Yet, WebAIM’s comprehensive analysis of the top 1 million home pages concluded that 98.1% have accessibility compliance failures. Customer research undertaken by The Purple Pound and Click Away Pound determined that: 73% of disabled customers experience barriers on more than one in four websites they visit. 75% of disabled people and their families have walked away from a business because of poor accessibility or customer service. 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. It’s possible that many retailers don’t realise how inaccessible their products and services are, because only 8% of site visitors will contact the owner to alert them to barriers they encounter. So it’s imperative that businesses have a thorough understanding and are proactive on web accessibility factors. 3 Ways Online Retailers Can Support Disabled Customers Ultimately, technology that benefits people with disabilities benefits all consumers, and upping your game on inclusion is not as scary, complicated, or costly as many people think. Make sure your website build is accessible. Good web developers can help you adapt your site by incorporating best practices for accessibility. Familiarise yourself with the most up-to-date Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and aim for compliance level AA. Use assistive technology like Recite Me to bridge the gap between accessibility and usability, creating an inclusive online experience for everyone. Being Accessible is The Smart Thing to Do You’ve probably already established that being accessible is the right thing to do. But many organizations still hesitate, because doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily equate to financial gain. However, where accessibility is concerned, this is simply not the case. Plus, there’s a whole list of other benefits to smart companies that take the lead in becoming accessible ahead of their competitors: Reach a wider audience. By attracting and retaining an additional 20% market share, you can significantly expand your customer base. SEO Benefits. Many best practices for accessibility are heavily weighted on search engine algorithms. Improved PR. Many customers consciously only buy from companies with inclusive values. Forbes Magazine recently reported that 52% of online consumers consider a company’s values when making a purchase. Improved Brand Reputation. Customers favour brands that care about helping others, and if your company isn’t viewed as inclusive, some customers will simply not spend their money with you. Companies Leading the Way We are proud to work with numerous businesses in the retail and e-commerce sector already. Promo Direct Tesco Boots Paul Smith Dunelm Watford FC Online store Computacenter "By making use of cutting edge technologies on our website, we hope to build a future where nobody is left behind. We are committed to delivering a website that is accessible to a wide range of audiences, regardless of their ability and circumstance.” Dave Sarro, CEO of Promo Direct How Recite Me Can Help Your Online Business The Recite Me toolbar bridges the gap between accessibility and usability and promotes inclusivity by allowing those with sight loss, cognitive impairments, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, and varying linguistic needs to access websites in the way that is best suited to them. 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. What the Data Says Recite me is now installed on over 3,700 websites, and over the last 12 months, our data shows that: Our assistive toolbar was launched over 3.3 million times Over 18.5 million web pages were viewed using the toolbar Over 4.1 million individual styling changes were made 13.5 million pieces of content were translated into different languages 33.8 million pieces of content were read aloud Want to Know More? If you’d like to learn more about how your business can make a positive change towards inclusion and boost sales at the same time, please contact our team or book a real-time demonstration of our toolbar.

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Counting the positives for Dyslexia Awareness Week

05 Oct 2021 | news

Dyslexia can be more of a help than a burden. That’s the view of Chris Hind, Sales Team Leader at Recite Me, who has dyslexia. This week (4 – 10 October) is Dyslexia Awareness Week 2021 and the theme for this year focuses on invisible dyslexia. Because dyslexia itself isn't visible, individuals with dyslexia often feel unsupported and invisible. This is why The British Dyslexia Association, which runs Dyslexia Awareness Week, wants people to explore the entire theme of visibility within our community. Over this week they will highlight the importance of mental health, increase visibility of underrepresented groups, and raise serious issues of dyslexia being overlooked within education and the workplace. Un-tapped hidden brain power According to Chris, his experience of dyslexia is that it’s actually a strong point. Not a weakness. It helps him to think differently, which makes him good at finding creative solutions to problems. “For me, the plus sides of having dyslexia probably outweigh the negative effects. For example, I know that my creative thinking is heightened due to dyslexia. “That tends to be a common characteristic among people with dyslexia. So it helps my ability to methodically work through a problem. “It helps me find resolutions to problems and find ways around things that other people who have slightly more linear thinking patterns may not consider.” This hidden extra brainpower of people with dyslexia is clearly something that organisations can use to their advantage by exploring different ways of problem-solving. What’s it like to have dyslexia? Before we think more about that, it’s worth understanding more about how dyslexia affects individual people. So how does Chris experience dyslexia? “Sometimes I can see letters in a word mirrored or jumbled up, and words can also look mirrored and jumbled up to me” said Chris. “And I can struggle to follow lines of text onto the next line. So when I get to the end of a line I find it hard to find the start of the next line without having to look back at where I was.” As reading is grinding for Chris, he benefits from working here at Recite Me for an assistive technology company that understands accessibility. Because of this the Recite Me assistive toolbar is built into our internal IT systems, which Chris and the rest of our team use. And as Recite Me has a unique range of features that each user can customise to suit their specific needs, Chris can use it to read content in the way that works best for him. “I'm lucky because we've got the Recite Me assistive toolbar built into our internal IT systems, which I spend most of my working day using on my PC. It’s great to make micro-adjustments using Recite Me’s features. “I like to change the text and background colours. A grey background with black text works a lot better to me than a white background with black text.” Small changes make a massive difference Chris also uses Recite Me to make small changes to the layout of text on-screen that make an immeasurably positive difference to his reading experience. “I'll slightly increase the font size as well as the line-height. “As I mentioned earlier, getting to the end of a line of text and picking up the next line can sometimes be a bit troublesome, especially if I’m trying to consume text quite quickly. “Recite Me gives the option to increase line-height, which is the amount of space between each line of text. “Just increasing the distance between the text in this way has a profound effect on me. “And sometimes if I have really large blocks of intricate text to read I can pop my headphones and use the text-to-speech feature to listen to the content, rather than having to read it myself.” How to harness the power of dyslexia During Dyslexia Awareness Week people across the UK are exploring how to empower dyslexia in organisations, and it’s clear that a greater understanding of the positives of having dyslexia is essential. For Chris, the key lies in organisations understanding that dyslexia effects people differently and each person’s experience needs to be listened to in order to get the best out of them. “Dyslexia, like other forms of neurodiversity, is quite a wide spectrum of experience. Not everyone with dyslexia is the same. We don't experience it the same way. “There’s no one-size-fits-all approach that helps everyone with dyslexia to flourish. “So I think an organisation should understand its individual staff members and what that individual staff member’s experience with dyslexia is like. “Find out what they see as the positive aspects of their dyslexia, what their key strengths are as a result of dyslexia. “And then play to that individual's strengths. Recognise that there are strengths to having dyslexia, there aren’t just negatives. “This kind of holistic approach would certainly benefit not just the organisation but the individual within that organisation as well.” 100’s of organisations already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible for people with conditions like dyslexia. To find out more please contact the team.

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Is Your Organisation Dyslexia Aware?

04 Oct 2021 | news

How dyslexia aware are you? That may sound like a strange question. After all, everyone knows what dyslexia is, right? You probably know a few people in your office of friendship circle who have it. However, the signs and symptoms of dyslexia are not universal and vary in severity. So it is, in fact, very possible to be dyslexia unaware without even realizing it. Dyslexia Awareness Week runs from October 5th to October 11th, 2021. So there’s no better time to delve a little deeper into the background and realities of dyslexia – what it is, what it means, and what can be done to support people with dyslexia in the workplace and their studies. What Exactly is Dyslexia? Most people know that dyslexia is a lifelong learning difficulty that affects reading, writing, and spelling. However, many people think it only concerns mixing up the order of letters in words, resulting in spelling mistakes in written work and difficulty reading aloud. But there’s a bit more to it than that. Dyslexia affects the area of the brain that processes language. So it’s not just about written letters. It’s also about identifying speech sounds and decoding them in relation to letters and words. It takes much more time for dyslexics to break words down into symbols and then match them to the right sounds, so sometimes, even listening to words is challenging in terms of comprehension. Dyslexia Signs and Symptoms Because it takes more effort to process written information, people with dyslexia are slower at reading and writing than others. But why? What specific problems do they encounter that make processing words harder? Here are a few examples: Obstacles in quickly identifying letters and their associated sounds. Difficulty remembering whole words by sight – especially longer words or words that don’t sound like they are spelled (for example, yacht, cupboard, and colonel). Putting similar letters the wrong way round (for example, b, d, and p). Trouble distinguishing between homophones, which are words that sound the same but are spelled differently (for example, there, their, and they’re). It is particular issues like these that cause the inconsistent spelling and slow reading times. How Many People Have Dyslexia? This is the million-dollar question! The NHS estimates that 10% of the population has dyslexia, while Yale suggests that the actual figure is closer to 20%. The truth is, we can’t really say with certainty. Because some people have very mild forms, they are not diagnosed until adulthood - and it’s also very possible that some people with dyslexia are never diagnosed at all. But, for the sake of the argument, let’s go with 15%. That’s around 700 million people worldwide. What we do know is that dyslexia is the most common learning difficulty, accounting for 80-90% of all diagnosed learning disorders. Other learning difficulties include dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and hyperlexia. Does Dyslexia Affect Intelligence? In short, no. Dyslexia is not a marker of intelligence as it is a learning difficulty, not a learning disability. In fact, dyslexics often have well above average skills in creative thinking, analytics, and problem-solving. Did you know that some of the greatest minds and most successful entrepreneurs were/are dyslexic? Examples include: Winston Churchill Richard Branson Albert Einstein Theo Paphitis George Washington Steven Spielberg Employing for Diversity Far from being a negative factor, many employers are now actively recruiting for neurodiverse candidates with dyslexia. Critical thinking skills are sought after in some of the world’s biggest industries and are particularly useful in sectors like IT, architecture, design, fashion, science, and medicine etc. Just a few global organisations to be vocal about employing for diversity include: Microsoft Goldman Sachs GCHQ Intelligence Agency Ernst & Young 3 Ways to Support Students and Employees with Dyslexia Providing additional tools and support to dyslexic students or team members needn’t be complicated or expensive. Just a few simple changes can lead to better productivity, communication, and teamwork practices that can set your organisation on the path to success. “The whole mission of our product is to support those who learn and communicate differently, so having a solid internal understanding of how that works in a real-life setting is vital for the wellbeing of the team.” Ross Linnett, Recite Me Founder and CEO These are just a few of the dyslexia-friendly measures we’ve incorporated into our processes at Recite Me. Ask & Adapt Ask people outright what support they need and adapt your procedures accordingly. Examples include providing a longer lead time for deadlines and ensuring materials for meetings or lectures are distributed the day before to allow for adequate review time. You could even print handouts on coloured paper to improve contrast and readability. Dyslexia-Friendly Communications Put together a list of dyslexia-friendly fonts and ensure that they are used in all correspondence. Also, make sure any presentations include visual elements that are easy for people with dyslexia to process – not just tables or lists of numbers and data. Assistive Technology Invest in technology that allows people to use their time efficiently and simultaneously get the best results. Automatic spell-checkers, screen readers, and text-to-speech tools are great for people with dyslexia as they provide the freedom to get on with things without having to dwell on the minutiae of letters, words, and phonetics. Dyslexia and Web Accessibility There can be several elements on a website that make the content hard to read for dyslexic visitors. The most common include: Fonts that are not dyslexia friendly. Justified text and double-spacing that create a ‘river effect’ in the text. Insufficient colour contracts between the text and background. Italic text that makes the letters in words hard to distinguish. Long sections of unbroken paragraphs. How Recite Me Software Helps Dyslexics The Recite Me Toolbar supports your dyslexic website visitors by providing a range of solutions so they can adapt the content and read it in the way that works best for them. Users can: Have text from any website read-aloud to them Download and save any written web content as an MP3 file Choose the exact colour contrast between the text and background Change the font type and size Zoom in on any part of a webpage Use the built-in spell-checker and a fully integrated dictionary and thesaurus Our toolbar also helps people who suffer from a wide range of other learning difficulties and disabilities, including decreased vision, colourblindness, ADHD, epilepsy, and those who speak English as a second language. Find Out More If you’d like to learn more about supporting your students or workforce with our dyslexia-friendly assistive software, please feel free to contact our team for more information or book a real-time demonstration of our toolbar.

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Everyone Active

28 Sep 2021 | case-study

Everyone Active is entitled the longest-established leisure operator in the UK, managing over 200 leisure and cultural centres in partnership with more than 60 different local authorities. Their mission is to encourage everyone to participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity either in a centre or via online training, five times per week. To help achieve their mission, Everyone Active wanted to grant unlimited access to online fitness information and services, by implementing accessibility and language tools.

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Is Your Business United for Online Inclusion?

27 Sep 2021 | news

2021 marks the 9th year of National Inclusion Week, which takes place between the 27th of September and the 3rd of October. Inclusion Week is the brainchild of Inclusive Employers and is designed to celebrate all forms of inclusion in the workplace. The theme of this year’s events is unity, and all inclusion week activities will be trending under the hashtag #UnitedForInclusion. Recite Me is proud to list Inclusive Employers as one of our clients, and Inclusion Week presents a perfect opportunity to look at digital inclusion and the steps businesses can take to unite and support all of their employees. Who Is Excluded Online? You can’t take steps to improve inclusion unless you know and understand the problems faced by those who struggle to access information. Over 13 million people in the UK (around 20% of the population) have disabilities that make accessing online content challenging. This includes those with: Decreased vision – Around 2 million residents have visual impairments. Learning difficulties – At least 15% of the population has one or more learning difficulty. Language/linguistic problems - 1 in every 5 households speaks English as a second language. Attention disorders - 1.5 million people have ADHD, and around one in every hundred people are on the autism spectrum. Neurodiversity – It’s estimated that around 15% of the population has mental or neurological conditions. Physical disabilities – 1 in every 5 people have a permanent or temporary disability. That’s a whole heap of people who face everyday access barriers in finding, navigating, and understanding information on websites. 4 Steps Your Business Can Take to Unite for Online Inclusion Creating an inclusive work environment helps motivate staff, reduce absenteeism, and increase productivity while simultaneously ensuring the best practices for attracting, recruiting, developing, and retaining the best employees. Here’s our list of recommended steps to follow. 1. Know What is Expected Become familiar with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and aim for WCAG AA level. This standard of accessibility compliance is legally required for certain sites and is typically the benchmark criteria used when discussing ‘making a website accessible’. It is expected by law that businesses do not treat those with disabilities less favourably, and legislation demands that companies make reasonable adjustments to avoid discriminating based on accessibility. Examples include The Equality Act of 2010 (UK), The European Accessibility Act (Europe), and The Americans with Disabilities Act (USA).​ 2. Make Your Website Design Inclusive Poorly designed websites make it difficult for people to access your information. Your website may look great, but if it’s not accessible to people with a range of access needs, then it will never be inclusive. These days, most good developers can help you optimise your website for accessibility. Key factors include: 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. Ensuring responsiveness on all device types (mobile, tablet and desktop). Being keyboard friendly.Consciously Optimise for Inclusion ​3. Consciously Optimise for Inclusion Become a Disability Confident Employer. Disability Confident schemes exist to help employers be more inclusive and explore the benefits of employing disabled people. Over 20,000 forward-thinking companies, including Recite Me, are currently registered as Disability Confident. To tap into the biggest pool of talent, you need to develop an inclusive recruitment process. We invite you to download our guide to accessible online recruitment, compiled in partnership with Guidant Global. Be proactive in regularly gathering employee feedback and ensure that employees with disabilities have a say in decision-making processes. 4. Utilise Assistive Technology Accessibility software allows disabled people to access your website and job vacancies in the way that works best for them. Many organisations also use accessibility software on internal systems like intranets and learning platforms to ensure company information is fully accessible and inclusive to their employees. “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 The Benefits of Being Inclusive By taking a visibly inclusive approach, you demonstrate to customers and other businesses that you are committed to equality in the workplace. But the benefits don’t stop there... Recruitment and Retention Data shows that employees with disabilities take less time off and tend to stay with companies for longer. Plus, inclusive HR processes allow you to: Draw from the widest pool of talent available Acquire the highest-quality staff Improve innovation Reduce staff turnover rates Improve staff morale Revenue There is growing evidence that improved inclusion leads to increased revenue and profits. Recent statistics suggest that diverse companies: Are 70% more likely to capture new markets Are better at decision making Can drive 2.3 times more cash flow “According to Accenture’s 2018 study, The Disability Inclusion Advantage, companies that embrace best practices for employing and supporting people with disabilities outperform their peers with higher revenue (28%) and profit margin (30%).” John Stern, Accessibility Advocate Supporting Inclusion with Recite Me Assistive Technology The Recite Me toolbar removes online access barriers in several ways by: Accounting for differences in vision - Users can adjust the font size, font type, and use a screen reader for better focus and ease of reading. Removing barriers for people with learning difficulties - Toolbar functions include options for changing colours and colour contrasts between background and foreground, the spacing between words, and stripping out distracting graphics. Providing information in clear language - We provide text to speech in 35 languages, on-screen translation in 100 languages, and inbuilt spellcheck and thesaurus functions. Making your website easier to navigate - Keyboard accessibility means users can navigate interactive elements more easily. Providing accessible publications - Our DocReader means PDF documents on your webpage are also accessible. What the Data Says Recite me is now installed on over 3,500 websites, and over the last 12 months, our data shows that: The Recite Me assistive toolbar was launched over 2.5 million times Over 13.8 million web pages were viewed using the toolbar Over 3.6 million individual styling changes were made 11.4 million pieces of content were translated into different languages 27.1 million pieces of content were read aloud Learn More Would you like to join the hundreds of companies that have already adopted our inclusive software? Recite Me is quick and easy to implement on your website, and can usually be installed in under an hour. If you’d like to learn more, you are welcome to contact our team or book a live demo. If you’d like to register to take part in National Inclusion week, you can find more information and resources on the official website here. Data Sources: WHO, United Nations, NHS, MarketWatch

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Join Our Awareness Week - What Does Accessibility Mean To Me?

23 Sep 2021 | news

Accessibility means something different to everyone. We all have different experiences, challenges, abilities, and thoughts regarding the world of inclusion, whether at home or in the workplace. Our 'What Does Accessibility Mean To Me?' awareness week will run from the 18th to 22nd of October. This is a time for us to come together and to get everyone talking and learning about accessibility, diversity, and inclusion. Organisations can use this week to reach out to their employees and discover how people feel about accessibility. Giving everyone a voice to share their experiences and knowledge will bring the workplace together, empower individuals, and improve inclusion.

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Accessibility to Me Resources

23 Sep 2021 | download

Our 'What Does Accessibility Mean To Me?' awareness week will run from the 18th to 22nd of October. This is a time for us to come together and to get everyone talking and learning about accessibility, diversity, and inclusion. Our resource packs will help you engage, educate, and communicate the importance of accessibility for all. Each pack includes: An awareness brief Blog articles Social media posts and graphics Staff questions Email templates Logos

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PODCAST: The Importance of Providing Inclusive Remote Learning

23 Sep 2021 | news

To shine a light on the importance of inclusive remote learning, The All Inclusive Podcast sees Ross Linnett joined by Will Paterson, CEO, and founder of Ed Place. Ross and Will have an open conversation about dyslexia, discuss personal experiences and the inspiration behind making a difference for others with learning disabilities.

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Walsall College

20 Sep 2021 | case-study

Walsall College is one of the most successful colleges in the UK, with more than 14,000 students enrolling in vocational-technical qualifications, apprenticeships, and higher education programmes, each year. To support each student's needs, Walsall College wanted to provide students with online accessibility and language tools to customise their educational journey to access higher levels of study and jobs.

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Education Report

17 Sep 2021 | download

Distance and remote learning have always been popular. However, in the ever-changing landscape of 2020 and 2021, many education institutions that offer regular attendance programmes have found themselves scrambling to switch to online and remote learning formats. But it’s not as straightforward as simply converting materials, lectures, and workshop plans into a digital structure. It is important to consider that not everyone learns in the same way. Different learning styles and different abilities must be accounted for, so digital materials must be inclusive of everyone, not just available to everyone. Download our Education Report which looks at why digital barriers are a problem for students, why you should provide support online, Recite Me education clients and an overview of our data from the past year.

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Everyone Active Paves the Way to Inclusive Fitness

13 Sep 2021 | news

Everyone Active ensures fitness is available to all with online accessibility and language tools. In the past month (August), over 30,000 people have used the Recite Me assistive toolbar on the Everyone Active website to read and understand essential fitness information and services. Entitled the longest-established leisure operator in the UK, Everyone Active manages over 200 leisure centres, aiming to encourage participation in physical activity 5 times a week. To help achieve their inclusion mission, Everyone Active has removed barriers for those with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, and those who speak English as a second language. Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of Everyone Active. Erin Flower, Group Marketing Manager at Everyone Active commented, “Our name is something we truly believe in. When we say, ‘Everyone Active’, we really do mean everyone. Fitness and activity should be open to all and we are dedicated to removing barriers and making it more accessible wherever we can – whether that’s in our centres or on our website. Working with Recite Me to make our website even more accessible was a win-win decision for everyone.” The Recite Me assistive toolbar on the Everyone Active website includes 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. Toolbar data shows that in May 2021, website visitors viewed 52,772 accessible pages on the Everyone Active website. The most used feature of the toolbar is the screen reader, with users using the playback feature to understand content in English, Spanish, and Polish. To explore the customisable toolbar on the Everyone Active website select Accessibility. For more information on how you can provide an inclusive online experience book a demo with a member of our friendly team.

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