News & Media
We are very pleased to be attending ATEC (the Assistive Technology Exhibition and Conference) in Sheffield on Thursday (24/11/2016), where will be exhibiting our Recite Me and Include Me accessibility products. Recite Me’s custom tool can be added to a website in five minutes to make the content more accessible to people with a disability, learning difficulty or visual impairment. The toolbar offers website users a full range of customisable options that allow them to customise a website the way they need it to work for them. Include Me is innovative software that makes digital content like documents and websites more accessible to everyone. Providing a range of features that support people with dyslexia, visual impairments and other communications needs, Include Me works in the office, classroom, library or at home. We will be demonstrating our products and answering questions to help people who are interested learn how to get the best out of our accessibility software. And we will be offering a special discount for anyone who books a free product demonstration for their organisation and goes on to purchase our software at a later date. We are also looking forward to hearing the interesting conference keynote speakers. Gareth Ford Williams, Head of Accessibility at the BBC, will be the first keynote speaker. He will talk about how new technology such as 3D radio, 360 video and VR+Binaural is now becoming mainstream, and the challenges they pose for accessibility. Hector Minto, Senior Technology Evangelist for Accessibility at Microsoft, is the second keynote speaker, and he will give a speech entitled: Technology Accessibility (and therefore Inclusion) as a Mindset – The Microsoft Journey so far. We are sure this will be a great event and if you want to learn more about our accessibility software and how it can work for you and your organisation please come and see us. See you there!
The aim of communication is to express. But all too often, plain English loses out to poorly written content. This has been highlighted in a recent study by VisibleThread. It found that 82% of UK Local Authority websites don’t meet UK Government target readability standards for UK Government departments. The UK Government’s content design: planning, writing and managing content guidelines state that: “Plain English is mandatory for all of GOV.UK…Plain English is the whole ethos of GOV.UK: it’s a way of writing.” The guidelines also state: “Good online content is easy to read and understand…This helps people find what they need quickly and absorb it effortlessly.” VisibleThread analysed the clarity of written content on 191 (46%) of the UK’s Local Authorities’ websites to assess how they perform. According to the study the results indicate: “…a lack of consistency in the adoption and implementation of the Writing for GOV.UK guidelines produced by the UK Government.” And using plain English is important for several reasons. The average reading age of the UK population is nine years, which means people have reached the reading ability normally expected of a nine year old. Also, data from the 2011 UK census shows that a growing section of the UK population either don’t speak English, or speak a different main language other than English. Finally, around 15% of the UK population have a learning difficulty like dyslexia. Therefore, using plain English is vital in order to make sure your website’s content can be read by as many people as possible so service users have the opportunity to access important information. If a lack of plain English is a problem for your organisation, before you consider rewriting your entire website, there is a tool that can help – Recite Me. Recite Me’s custom tool can be added to a website in five minutes to make the content more accessible to people with a disability or visual impairment. The tool bar offers website users a full-range of customisable options that allow them to customise your website the way they need it to work for them. As well as having a dictionary it lets users do things like change font sizes and colours, read text aloud (including PDFs), and customise the background colour. For example, people with dyslexia can read more quickly and easily if they are given the functionality to allow them to change the size and colour of the text. With the ability to customise the background colour of your website, people with dyslexia will be able to access your content up to 25% faster than without this feature. Recite Me can also translate your website’s content into over 100 languages at the click of a button. To make your website more accessible why not book an appointment for a product demonstration and free 30 day trial?
Do you own a smart phone or a tablet? Do you spend lots of time browsing the internet using a mobile device? Do you purchase things like takeaway food or gig tickets using mobile devices? If you’re the average person in the UK then the answer to all those questions is probably yes. But if you’re one of the estimated 12 million disabled people in the UK it may be more of a struggle. Since 2014 people are spending more time accessing the internet via mobile devices than desktop computers, but mobile sites often present big barriers for disabled users because they haven’t been properly optimised for them. According to AbilityNet this means that many e-retailers and e-commerce businesses are missing out on the £120 billion spending power of disabled people in the UK due to a lack of accessible design. And Ofcom’s recently published Communications Market Report 2016 offers some telling up-to-date insights into how people in the UK use the internet. According to the report: 71% of all adults now own a smartphone, up from 66% in 2015. 60% of people use their mobile phone to access the internet. Over two hours a day on average is spent using smartphones. An adult will spend 12 minutes a day on average shopping online. Almost two thirds (63%) credit it [the internet] with inspiring them to try new things such as travel destinations, restaurants, recipes or entertainment. And as far back as 2014 there’s also been data to suggest that mobile users are spending more time using digital media in mobile apps than in any other way. But if an app isn’t set up properly for disabled users then accessibility is a major barrier. That’s because not all apps and mobile websites, including those built using Responsive Web Design, are optimised for disabled people from the start of the design process. This is where Recite Me can help. Recite Me’s custom toolbar can offer e-retailers and e-commerce businesses a quick and easy way to make their mobile sites and apps accessible to people with a disability or visual impairment. Recite Me’s toolbar has a variety of features that let users customise your mobile site the way they need it to work for them. Amongst other features, it allows them to change font sizes and colours, read text aloud (including PDFs), and customise the background colour. And unlike similar products that are popular in the market that often don’t work fully for mobile devices (e.g. only offering a text reader function) it offers a total accessible design solution. Recite Me also provides translation tools that can translate your website content into 103 languages. To gain a competitive advantage over your e-retail and e-commerce rivals book your appointment today for a product demonstration and free 30-day trial.
For the new academic year, many students are feeling excited for the upcoming year ahead, those who suffer from dyslexia may be feeling nervous. School and university can be stressful at the best of times, but for students who are struggling with dyslexia, the challenges of a new school year can be made all the more difficult. Whether yourself or your child suffers from dyslexia, there are some simple tips you can use to make sure the year ahead goes as smoothly and successfully as possible. Firstly, understand that you are not alone. Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities throughout the world, with the BBC estimating that 1 in 10 children have dyslexia, and many of the cases are undiagnosed until later adulthood. Secondly, there are also a huge range of resources more readily available at our fingertips. Living in the digital age has allowed many of us to find cures for everyday problems. In fact, dyslexic people can live normal lives and still greatly improve their reading and writing skills. Smartphone applications and software add-ons are now being designed to allow dyslexic readers to more easily access all of the opportunities and possibilities on the Internet. Indeed, Recite Me’s custom toolbar was created with exactly this purpose in mind. Thankfully, many schools are noticing these challenges, particularly in the United States. Tennessee and Missouri are just a few of the states that are beginning to pass laws to screen new students for dyslexia. Known as the Dyslexia Screening Bill, the new law is designed to identify the condition early on and assist students with extra tuition before the struggles begin. Legal bills aside, the vast majority of schools and universities on either sides of the Atlantic will also offer extra time on examinations and schoolwork for students who have dyslexia. Dyslexia may be a common problem, but it can also come with a lot of frustration. Being patient and understanding the resources that are out there to assist you means that such a common disability will not hold you back, ensuring that you have the most successful year ahead.
It’s been a huge summer of sport with first the UEFA Euro 2016 Championships, then Wimbledon, then the RIO 2016 Olympics whetting the appetite of our sport-mad nation. Major global sporting events like these attract huge numbers of overseas visitors to the UK as well. For example, the Premier League 2016-2017 season, which kicked-off recently, will attract visitors from all over the world to watch top football teams playing in big cities like Manchester, Liverpool and London. And we certainly do get a lot of international visitors – recent figures from the Office of National Statistics show that ‘overseas residents made 9.8 million visits to the UK in the three months to June 2016’. London alone is a huge attraction for overseas visitors. According to Visit Britain in 2015 ‘…overseas visitors made 18.7 million visits to the city’s best known cultural institutions, which is 1.8 million more than in 2012 [when London hosted the Olympics].’ But does your organisation make the most of opportunities to promote your brand and your products and services to international visitors? Most importantly, can they access your website in their language of choice? If the answer is no then Recite Me is worth some serious thought. Recite Me’s custom toolbar can translate your website into over 100 languages, which offers you a great cost-effective alternative to expensive translation services. It’s a simple, no-hassle solution that can be added to a website in five minutes to make it accessible to international visitors in their first language. Gatwick Airport’s website is a great example of how a large brand that welcomes millions of international visitors per year offers a quick and easy translation option via Recite Me’s tool bar. Whether visitors speak Afrikaans to Zulu, they can easily translate the airport’s website content at the click of a button to change the text to one of the 103 languages that Recite Me’s translation function caters for. Recite Me’s custom toolbar also offers brands an easy way to make their websites accessible to people with a disability or sight loss. It has a range of features that allow visitors to customise a website in the way they need it to work for them. They can use Recite Me to do things such as change font sizes and colours, select a text only version of the site, read text aloud (including PDFs), and customise the background colour. To explore how you can easily add Recite Me’s toolbar to translate your web content into over 100 languages book an appointment for a product demonstration and free 30 day trial now.
It was nine years ago when the world said goodbye to the beloved Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling. At least, that’s what we all thought. Earlier this year, Rowling announced her plans of releasing new Harry Potter material in the form of a two-part stage production and published script, marketed as the eighth story in the Harry Potter universe. Whilst Potterheads around the world were thrilled at the prospect of more Harry Potter and furiously submitting their pre-orders on Amazon, many readers with visual impairments and learning disabilities could have missed out on their change to return to Hogwarts. However, it wasn’t long before the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) announced their plans to team up with Little, Brown publishers and release a braille and large-print edition of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, designed for blind or visually impaired readers. Later this year, another edition using specialized fonts and paper will also be published specifically for dyslexic readers. As one of the fastest books ever sold, and one of Amazon’s top pre-orders this year, it was inevitable that publishers would want to make this new book accessible for every reader. These developments, although on a much larger scale given the worldwide success of the Harry Potter franchise, is just one of the many examples of how businesses and producers need to make their products and services as accessible as possible for every customer and consumer, regardless of their learning and visual skills. Much like the soon to be published Harry Potter book, Recite Me’s toolbar offers readers a similar solution to allow them to read webpages faster and more easily. The toolbar includes a range of options, including font and colour changes, background colour changes, and a full built-in dictionary and thesaurus. The seemingly simple changes can make a world of difference for readers who are visually impaired and dyslexic. Begin your free trial today by visiting www.reciteme.com/contact/trial
Sunday 10 July is the 25th anniversary of Disability Awareness Day (DAD). This pan-disability event has become a flagship exhibition for championing what disabled people can do throughout life and in the workplace. Looking back on the last 25 years, there has been much progress in raising awareness about the needs of disabled people in our communities and workplaces, but, despite the disability equality legislation that exists, we still need to continue making strides towards creating a more equitable and inclusive society. For UK businesses particularly, being more aware of disability means being able to anticipate the needs of your customers both off- and online. As our society moves further into the digital age, businesses need to consider how the advent of e-commerce, smartphones and the adoption of the Internet may affect the customer journey of disabled shoppers. The 2010 Equality Act requires businesses to anticipate the needs of disabled customers (and employees) by making what are known as ‘reasonable adjustments’. Adjustments can vary from the provision of ramps for wheelchair users, to providing information in a different format, such as audio or text-to-speech translation for blind people. Sadly, there is plenty of evidence that this is not the reality for many disabled shoppers. The Click Away Pound Survey has been asking disabled Internet shoppers about their experiences of online retail. Due to be reported later this summer, the initial findings from the survey show that that businesses are failing to make their products and services accessible to people with disabilities. One of the survey respondents with dyslexia reported that a number of retail websites are difficult for her to navigate as they have large blocks of text and constantly moving images. She said: “I just tend to get tired and give up”. See The Click Away Pound website for more details: www.clickawaypound.com E-retailers with inaccessible websites risk missing out on an estimated £1.8bn / month. Furthermore, 75% of disabled people have walked away from a business because of poor disability awareness or discriminatory practices. Whether it’s an e-commerce website with poor colour contrast that makes reading difficult for those with visual impairments or a physically inaccessible shop on the high street, the case is clear. Businesses that build disability awareness into their strategic service design and offer personalised services for customers with all types of disability open themselves up to the ‘purple pound’ – valued at £212bn in the UK alone. If we better anticipate people’s differing needs, we are pushing to make the world a more inclusive space for everyone. Websites with our software have accessibility built in and enable you to reach a wider customer-base.
This year on 19 May, Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), we participated in CoderDojo London’s launch of a new, groundbreaking series of accessibility-themed Dojo. The kick-off event centered around learning about visual impairment and digital accessibility. CoderDojo is a global movement of free, volunteer-led, community-based programming clubs for young people. At a Dojo, young people learn how to code, develop websites, apps, programmes, games and explore technology in a buzzing, creative environment. This inaugural ‘Accessibility Dojo’ aimed to get the future Mark Zuckerbergs and Jack Dorseys of the world talking, thinking and learning about digital accessibility and users with different capabilities. 24 young ‘coding ninjas’ from St. Vincent’s School, a specialist school for sensory impairment, Haberdasher’s Aske’s – Hatcham College, and CoderDojo Youth mentors participated in the Dojo. By collaborating with Salesforce, Thomson Reuters, the Royal National Institute for the Blind, BBC’s Make It Digital and of course, Recite Me, this unique initiative invited sighted and visually impaired children to come together in a fun environment to learn more about accessibility and inclusivity in a society that is becoming rapidly more digital. To expose these ‘coding ninjas’ to the challenges associated with accessibility online, we put together a project called “Spot the Difference” for the kids to solve. “Spot the Difference” is a web accessibility puzzle of two identical looking websites. One of the website’s incorporated good accessibility features and associated technologies, and the other did not. The task for the kids, in groups of two or three with a mix of visually impaired and sighted kids, was to identify and fix the accessibility issues on the websites. The accessibility issues were a mix of visual problems, as well as what was actually in the website’s code. Some of the tasks needed to use screen reading software, such as Include Me, along with additional reading software to assist the children who were blind. The “Spot the Difference” project was an interactive way to teach the ‘coding ninjas’ about the accessibility issues facing visually impaired individuals in our modern, digital society. It was also an opportunity to show the children how technology can help people with hearing or visual difficulties to navigate the web. Hopefully the Accessibility CoderDojo London sparked an interest in the next generation of digital developers to incorporate accessibility into their future apps, programming, games and websites.
According to the State of Play Theatre UK report (2013), 63% of the population goes to the theatre at least once a year and 26% of theatre-goers visit the theatre’s website to find out about what’s on. However, the percentage of disabled people engaged with the arts and cultural sector (72.4%), is lower than that of non-disabled people (79.1%). There has been no specific research into web accessibility in the theatre sector, but it’s highly likely that inaccessible information is partly to blame for lower levels of engagement among disabled people. To read the rest of this article click here
Global Accessibility Awareness Day is on 19 May and its goal is to raise the profile and topic of web, software, mobile and device accessibility. With that in mind, it inspired me to do a little research and comparison between the two ‘BIG’ names in mobile technology at the moment. Research undertaken by Citizens Online in 2015 showed that disabled people are more likely than average to browse using a smartphone, rather than a laptop or desktop. According to Ofcom (2015), Smartphones have overtaken laptops as UK internet users’ number one device; we’re spending at least two hours online on our smartphones every day; twice as long as laptops and PCs. What are manufacturers actually doing to make mobiles more accessible? Let’s look at the two market leaders, Samsung and Apple, who have market shares of 21.4% and 13.9% respectively. Both manufacturers provide mobile accessibility functions as standard as part of their phone operating systems, Apple runs on iOS and Samsung on Google’s Android OS. Generally speaking, both iOS and Android’s accessibility functions tend to support the following impairments: Sight Loss Both phones have built in screen reading technology, font size adjustment, colour adjustments (Samsung has more options than Apple), inverted colours, magnification of screen elements e.g. buttons and voice command. Hearing Loss Once again both manufacturers have enabled hearing aid compatibility thanks to Bluetooth technology, flash notifications, mono audio and phone noise cancellation. Yet again Samsung comes up trumps with additional features such as: Sound Balance – for users with headphones and perhaps one ear hearing better than another the volume in each ear can be adjusted individually. Vibration Patterns – For users with severe or total hearing loss users are able to create custom vibration patterns in place of ringtones across all phone contacts. Mobility/Dexterity Issues Interaction accessibility is pretty uniform between the two manufacturers with assistive touch, adjustable click speed and delay settings. When I began researching this article I was convinced that Apple would come out on top in the accessibility stakes, but it appears from research alone, that Samsung (and not just the Android platform) have expanded their mobile accessibility to cover more options. The ability to really customise your phone to your requirements removes the barriers facing disabled users. A higher level of customisation can only be a good thing for disabled people looking to purchase a smartphone and it puts a challenge out there to other manufacturers to step up their offerings too. The platform and device have to be designed with accessibility in mind so that app developers can confidently include accessibility software to make the user experience even better.
Public sector websites and mobile apps in the European Union have to become accessible, so why stop there? “Public sector websites and mobile applications must now meet European accessibility standards” The accessibility standards for public sector websites across Europe are varied, even from an outsider’s perspective, it’s clear to see that there is a lack of continuity and structure from country to country, department to department. On 03 May 2016, the European Parliament and Netherlands presidency reached an informal deal to make public sector websites and mobile applications more accessible, particularly for people with disabilities. But what does this actually mean? The draft directive means that the public sector websites and mobile applications of member states, including the UK, will be required to meet minimum EU accessibility standards. For example, this means that alternative text will need to be applied to all non-textual content in order to improve accessibility for people with visual impairments. What’s really interesting is that the draft directive has been adjusted to include mobile applications, which are seeing a surge in popularity and usage. The accessibility standards will also apply to intranet and extranet systems that are published after the new EU rules come into force. What’s going to change for public sector bodies? Arguably, the public sector should be leading the way on web accessibility and you could say that these minimum standards only really cover the basics of web accessibility. However, to ensure that public sector bodies aren’t caught out when the directive comes into force, the directive excludes certain types of content, for example: third party content (including social media) heritage collections, and live audio-visual media (note that audio-visual media will have to be made accessible if it is kept online after live broadcast). When will this come into force? We don’t know yet, all the EU has said is that the directive will come into force 20 days after it is published in the EU Official Journal. After this point, member states will have just 21 months to adopt the legislation and comply with it. All new websites must be compliant within one year of the transposition date and older websites have two years to comply. Mobile apps have 33 months from the transposition date to adhere. What impact will it have? The European Council say that implementing one set of harmonised rules will boost the market for accessibility-related products and services throughout the EU. It will benefit website and app developers, software innovators and providers as well as training providers. In real-terms we should see more uniformity in accessibility options, which can only be a good thing for people who encounter accessibility issues online. As the public sector adjusts its websites and applications to meet the new criteria, we need to see the private and voluntary sectors following suit in anticipation of rules being extended – if/when that happens we’ll be the first to let you know.
Recite would like to welcome Luton Community Housing to the Recite family. Luton Community Housing Ltd is a growing not-for-profit housing association that provides homes for people in the community. Tenants are culturally diverse and increasingly have English as an additional language. We are pleased to be working with Luton Community Housing to help make their website accessible ensuring that their customers can access content in a way that works best for them. Check out our most recent case study: Luton Community Housing Case Study
With employment levels at an all-time high, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for recruiters and employers to source the right kind of candidate for their roles. The savvy ones are looking to a wider talent pool to execute their searches; one such pool is disabled talent. And, it was great to see several forward-thinking employers showcased recently on BBC 2’s series Employable Me. Why bother? As well as being positive for your corporate image, there is a real business case for the employment of people with disabilities; statistics show that people with disabilities stay in work longer, are more productive and take less sick leave. The development and success of Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative Awards, now in its third year, is a case in point. Previous winners include E.ON, Lloyds Banking Group, HMRC and Sainsbury’s. These companies have become ambassadors of raising the bar when it comes to a more diverse workforce, and let’s not forget that having a workforce that more accurately represents the diverse make-up of its customers can only be a good thing. Despite the positive shift in sentiment, there is still a lack of parity between the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people, there remains an average of 31.1 percentage points between the two since the start of 2008. So what is getting in the way? When you speak to recruiters and employers the common theme is ‘fear’. Fear of getting it wrong, fear of excessive costs for adjustments, fear of tribunals and the associated bad press if you do get it wrong. The reality of employing a disabled person needn’t cause so much unease, with the right tools and support it doesn’t have to be a headache. Where do I start? Many reasonable adjustments are low-cost and easy to implement. The internet is a great place to begin researching, there are many tools out there that are easy to implement but make a real difference to the capabilities of your employees. Recite Me removes barriers facing people accessing the internet. Every website, download, social media channel and webpage is different, a lack of uniformity can make navigating the World Wide Web impossible. Our product is an innovative Cloud based web accessibility solution that allows its users to customise their web experience. Built for purpose, whether it’s through screen-reading, colour, size, or language there are a variety of solutions that open the doors to people with sight loss, learning disabilities such as dyslexia. So my advice is; don’t get caught short, invest in your employees and they’ll invest in you! Click here to view our infographic
I’m sure you’ll agree that social media is now considered a part of everyday life, whether you access it on desktop or smartphone, chances are 24 hours probably doesn’t pass when you haven’t checked at least one of your social feeds. The problem is that, although many social media platforms are pretty easy to use and navigate on the whole for the many, it’s not the case for everyone. In an increasingly visual world, where we’re always being told a ‘picture tells a thousand words’, yet on Twitter we’ve got just 140 characters to do exactly that, it seems unfair that people who can’t see pictures are becoming increasingly disabled by the social media environment. That’s why when last month it was announced that Twitter were rolling out alt-tags across desktop and all their apps, many people were heard to shout “about time!” Twitter said: “We’re excited to empower our customers and publishers to make images on Twitter accessible to the widest possible audience, so everyone can be included in the conversation and experience the biggest moments together.” Quite rightly they’re shouting about this because they recognise that their audience and users are a pretty diverse bunch, so they need to cater for that. We’ve been saying that at Recite Me for a long time! However, the more I think about it, the more I can see a business application for alt-tags on Twitter that goes beyond accessibility. Whilst your tweets are still limited to 140 characters you can, in addition to your tweet content, add up to 420 characters of alt text. Google is increasingly looking at alt text to judge and form its results from websites, so Twitter is no different. If you correctly label your images on Twitter with the right keywords and text, there is a very good, and real, opportunity that your tweets will show up on a search. This is certainly something to watch as it develops, particularly as I hear Facebook is working on something even bigger.