News & Media
We’re excited to announce that Recite Me will be attending the annual Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference in Orlando from January 31st to February 3rd 2018 in Orlando, Florida. ATIA’s mission is: “To serve as the collective voice of the assistive technology industry to help ensure that the best products and services are delivered to persons with disabilities.” The conference is designed to showcase the latest technologies and equipment on offer that will improve the everyday lives of people living with common disabilities. Attendees have the opportunity to network with other businesses, learn about the latest technology trends and practices available, and share their insights to enhance the opportunities available for those living with disabilities. The ATIA conference also addresses the needs of all disabilities for all ages, with assistive technology for everyone from students, teachers, parents, tutors, adults, and seniors. More than 2,500 guests will be in attendance at the conference, including technology startups, special education teachers, therapists, and web accessibility teams. Recite Me’s CEO and Founder, Ross Linnett, will be in attendance to showcase the latest features of Recite Me’s suite of web solutions. Ross said: “It's great to be going back to ATIA conference. There is always so much going on. Amazing to see how other areas of technology have progessed, and meet like minded people with accessibility at their core.” This conference is sure to be a productive, informative and inspiring event that will be made all the more enjoyable in sunny Orlando! If you’d like to learn more about how Recite Me can help your organization’s web accessibility, come along and say hello to us at ATIA. We look forward to seeing you there! To learn more about ATIA 2018, visit: https://www.atia.org/exhibit-atia-2018/ To find out more about Recite Me, including how we can help your organization, visit: http://www.reciteme.com
By Morgan Lobb, CEO of VERCIDA Technology has now become central to the recruitment process for the vast majority of recruiters. Nearly every area of the recruitment process now relies on digital technology, from online job adverts on websites and social media platforms to online application forms and candidate assessments. And as the development of digital tech progresses, so will its influence on the recruitment process. The impact of Artificial Intelligence Last year The Recruitment & Employment Federation (REC) published a report called The future of jobs. It was based on the findings of the REC’s Future of jobs commission and it highlights the effect tech and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in particular is having on recruitment now. The report states that some large companies are already utilising AI in the recruitment process: “Vodafone has begun using artificial intelligence to help recruit call centre and shop floor staff. Around 50,000 applicants have gone through the AI process so far, and Vodafone are happy with the results and wish to use the system to hire senior managers and executives”. VERCIDA understands candidate behaviours VERCIDA is an online diversity and recruitment resourcing platform. It helps employers attract candidates from diverse backgrounds in a pro-active way through positive action, while clearly showcasing their employer value proposition. The platform also offers jobseekers all the information they need to make an informed decision about whether an employer is the right fit for them. In this way the site utilises our understanding of candidate behaviours, as we know that jobseekers want clear information about what employers do to support their employees. And we have started to use AI to map jobseekers behaviour when they visit the website in order to help match them with the employers and job roles that are most suitable for them. The future of AI in recruitment The use of AI is set to continue and it will be used increasingly to help recruiters sort through candidates in an objective way that can help recruiters free themselves of unconscious bias. As the REC report also mentions: “The impact of technology and AI on the recruitment process in the future is likely to be significant. The REC’s monthly report on jobs – JobsOutlook – which details the hiring intentions of UK employers, found that 36.3 per cent of organisations regarded the use of technology and AI as part of the recruitment process as leading to the greatest change in their hiring procedures.” And tackling bias in recruitment is key for success as organisations with higher levels of diversity deliver better results than those that lack diversity. But whilst tech can be an enabler, evidence shows it can also be a barrier that prevents some jobseekers from joining organisations. Tech barriers for disabled jobseekers For example, VERCIDA worked in conjunction with the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI) to produce the 2017 RIDI candidate survey of 200 disabled job seekers. Three-quarters (75%) of the disabled jobseekers surveyed find their condition has an impact on job hunting. Just over half (54%) find hurdles at multiple stages of the recruitment process and nearly one in three (28%) find online assessments challenging. Whilst these figures are of great concern for recruiters they do show improvements from previous RIDI candidate surveys. This is likely due to the increased use of accessible digital technology in hiring, which is making recruitment processes more accessible for disabled people. Why Recite Me & VERCIDA work in partnership When VERCIDA was launched last year we made digital inclusion a core part of the business’ overall strategy. Because of this web accessibility was a key priority when the new platform was being developed using inclusive design. And we also began our partnership with Recite Me and added the accessibility software to do everything possible to ensure the site is accessible to the widest possible audience. The result is a fully accessible website that gives confidence to potential disabled candidates that organisations which use VERCIDA are confident and competent at meeting the needs of diverse candidates. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please call 02037405973 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Try Recite Me for yourself with a free demo 100’s of organisations already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible to everyone – book your free demo now.
The Disability Confident Employer scheme is one of a number of Government initiatives designed to get more disabled people into work. It was created to encourage organisations to recruit disabled people for their skills and talent, in order to help reduce the disability employment gap. There are more than 13 million disabled people in the UK but nearly 80 per cent of them (around two million people) don’t have a job. There is a large difference between the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people, and this is known as the disability employment gap. Jobs for one million disabled people by 2020 The Government wants to get over one million disabled people into work by 2020 to halve the gap. And over 5000 employers including Recite Me have now signed up to the Disability Confident scheme to help achieve this. I personally understand some of the challenges disabled people face because I am dyslexic. So I know first-hand about some of the barriers that exist for disabled people (e.g. inaccessible websites) based on my own life experience of living with dyslexia. In fact, I found it so difficult to access information with the limited accessibility software that was available at the time that I created could-based web accessibility software Recite Me. Reasonable adjustments for Digital Accessibility To progress through the Disability Confident Employer scheme you will need to make reasonable adjustments for disabled job candidates or employees. These reasonable adjustments are also required under the Equality Act 2010 and should include making sure that all of your digital services and information is accessible. For example, you need to ensure that people with a range of disabilities can access content on your website like job adverts and person specifications, plus apply for jobs using accessible forms. To achieve this, your website and all of your other digital communications should be designed using inclusive design. You should design web and digital content to W3C WCAG 2.0 level 1 guidelines, as a minimum. Web and Digital Accessibility Software You should also use some type of web accessibility software like Recite Me on your website. Recite Me has a unique combination of features that can help a range of job applicants with different types of disabilities (sight loss, hearing loss, mobility, cognitive impairments). For example, those with sight loss can use Recite Me to have the text on a website read-out aloud to them. The same goes for people with cognitive impairments like dyslexia, who can find it difficult to read large chunks of text. Users can also use Recite Me to change the font sizes, and change the colour contrast between text and background. Again, both these features are especially handy for people with partial sight loss and cognitive impairments like dyslexia. And you can also use digital accessibility software such as Include Me so that disabled employees or job candidates can access your other digital communications such as Microsoft Office documents or PDFs. Don’t forget User testing User testing is the final piece in the puzzle. When you’ve made sure your website and digital communications use inclusive design combined with accessibility software, test how they work for people with a range of disabilities. User testing involves people with different types of disabilities trying to carry out a range of tasks on your website or digital communications (e.g. company apps). You can use outside providers to do this like AbilityNet, which is the UK’s leading charity on digital accessibility. Or you can do your own user testing by asking your disabled employees to carry out tasks on your website or digital communications. Once the testing is complete you can analyse the data and pass the findings back to your design team to make the necessary technical developments to eliminate any problems for disabled users. Only then can you be sure you’ve made sure that disabled people can really access your website and apply for jobs with your organisation. We’re supporting RIDI to get more disabled people into work The Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI) is a scheme to drive change in recruitment and remove the barriers faced by the millions of disabled people who are entering or progressing through the job market. We truly believe in RIDI’s mission, which is why we’ve become a partner of the organisation and we’ve donated our Recite Me web accessibility software to the RIDI website. Kate Headley, Chair of the RIDI Executive Committee, said: “If organisations want to become Disability Confident Employers they need to ensure that they make the necessary reasonable adjustments. “This includes making sure that disabled people can access websites to find out about, and apply for jobs, just like non-disabled people can. “It takes a bit of time and effort but achieving digital accessibility will help your organisation attract more disabled talent on your journey to becoming a Disability Confident Employer.” Try Recite Me for FREE on your website now 100’s of organisations already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible to everyone – book your free trial now.
A blind man’s plea to Twitter has recently gone viral, with his tweet being viewed over 24 million times. Rob Long, an Afghanistan veteran who was blinded in 2010 while on patrol, recently revealed his struggle of using the Internet as a blind user. In today’s world that is cluttered with viral Internet images, from Grumpy Cat memes and blue or gold dresses, to the latest viral YouTube video, users with visual impairments can be left completely out of the loop. Instead, they will be left with a voiceover that simply says, “Box contains image.” We’ve probably all experienced those moments when friends or colleagues are discussing the latest viral craze online and not having any idea what they’re talking about. For visually impaired Internet users, these feelings of detachment and confusion can be a daily occurrence. Rob took things into his own hands by posting a message on Twitter outlining the simple steps (see his message below) users can take to ensure their profiles are accessible to all users, allowing a more satisfying Internet experience for everyone. I’m a blind twitter user. There are a lot of us out there. Increase your ability to reach us and help us interact with your pictures, it’s really simple and makes a huge difference to our twitter experiance allowing us to see your images our way. Thanks for the description ðŸ˜Ž pic.twitter.com/hCsjoFdmev — Rob Long (@_Red_Long) January 3, 2018 When users turn on image descriptions, it allows blind or visually impaired users to understand the full extent of what is being shown on screen through audio narration, rather than a box containing an image which offers no insight or clarification on what is being shown on screen. Rob’s viral tweet may prove just how far the Internet and businesses need to go to improve their accessibility to all users, but it also confirms just how seriously all users are taking the topic of web accessibility. As of writing, Rob’s tweet has been shared over 145,000 times and has over 170,000 likes, with many of these users admitting they didn’t know about Twitter’s accessibility features until Rob raised awareness. Begin taking your steps today to improving your website’s accessibility by booking a free demo of Recite Me’s toolbar. Much like the Twitter feature, the Recite Me toolbar also includes audio narration of images, ensuring visually impaired users can get the most out of your website (grumpy cats included). Visit http://www.reciteme.com/book-a-demo and book your free demo today.
In the UK alone, it is estimated that 11 million people have some form of disability. This includes sight loss and learning disabilities. As more companies and organisations move their operations online, this can present a significant challenge to the millions of people around the world who are visually impaired. As the rise of websites and e-commerce will continue to grow at an exponential rate, these challenges will become even more significant in the years to come. Recently, Ward Hadaway, one of the UK’s Top 100 law firms with offices in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester, implemented Recite Me’s innovative software to improve its web accessibility. James Sykes, Head of Marketing at Ward Hadaway, said: “In my experience, the various regulations around accessibility are quite often unclear and at times regressive. As such they aren’t necessarily in the best interests of all users, including those with special needs.” When the firm came across Recite Me earlier this year, they found a simple and straightforward approach that would cater to clients with special needs, as well as satisfying compliance regulations. It also enhanced rather than restricted the contemporary nature of the site. With the simple click of a button, visitors to the site can now hear audio descriptions, alter the text size, change fonts and languages, and even enable a ruler or screen mask to help users read lines of text more easily. James added, “We’ve always made sure that the site is compatible [for those with special needs] via screen readers, variable font sizes and other browser-controlled tools. When we came across Recite, we saw it would provide all of those tools in a very simple way, which was appealing to the firm to increase the obvious accessibility of the site across multiple platforms and devices.” James is confident that these steps will go a long way in addressing accessibility concerns, and will improve the overall web experience for all users. He adds, “With what we’ve already done, plus the Recite Me toolbar, we’re very confident that we now offer solutions for a whole range of users who may be browsing the site.”
Our Sales Executive Keith Moutter will be going to the Business Disability Forum’s (BDF) first ever Scottish conference on behalf of Recite Me. Business Disability Forum (BDF) is a not-for-profit member organisation that helps to remove the barriers between public and private organisations and disabled people to make it easier to do business with and employ disabled people. The free one-day conference, which is titled Disability in Scotland – going places is being hosted by RBS at their Edinburgh Headquarters. The theme is Going Places and the conference will explore inclusive tourism and the accessibility of Scottish tourist attractions, plus the varied career aspirations of disabled people and progression within the workplace. The conference also marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), which aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and gain support for the dignity, rights and well-being of disabled people. Speakers at the conference include Chris McCoy MBE, Equality and Diversity Manager from Visit Scotland, who will be bringing the perspective of business in the vibrant Scottish tourism industry. Disabled and older tourists from the Scottish domestic market alone spend £1.3 billion pounds in Scotland per year, which represents a 9% rise between 2009 and 2015. And hospitality businesses and tourist attractions can’t afford to miss out on this market. The same goes for transport companies. Especially as Glasgow will host the athletics European Championships in 2018. Chris McCoy MBE will demonstrate a new access tool developed with Visit England that will help businesses in Scotland showcase how they welcome disabled tourists. We’re very keen to learn about the new tool as we understand accessibility and how organisations can make sure they can reach the widest possible audience online. Organisations like Great Western Railway (GWR) and Arriva UK Bus already use Recite Me to make their websites accessible and inclusive to older and disabled people, and those who don’t speak English as a first language. We think this is a great chance to learn about what’s happening with accessibility and inclusion in the Scottish tourism industry and we are sure it will be a great success. Are you going to the event? If you see Keith at the event please feel free to go and say hello. He’s always keen to chat about accessibility and inclusion and how we can help your organisation to reach the widest possible audience through your website. Also, tweet us @reciteme to let us know if you’re going, we look forward to hearing from you and joining the debate about accessibility and inclusion in Scotland.
Access to information is a basic right for everyone, including school pupils and young people studying in further and higher education. Around twenty of the UK population (one in five people) have some form of disability. Seven per cent of children are disabled and nearly ten per cent of higher education students are known to have a disability. Nearly half of these students have a ‘specific learning disability’, which includes dyslexia. So it’s vital that education providers like you create an inclusive learning environment for all of your pupils and students. But, the life stories of disabled campaigners like Molly Watt show that some education providers haven’t fully considered the information access requirements of disabled people. Nor have they fully thought through the practical solutions they need to provide inclusive learning materials for hundreds of learners. Include Me can help your disabled pupils and students Include Me can help you make sure your educational materials are accessible to everyone no matter what device your pupils and students are using to learn with. Include Me is cloud-based accessibility software that was specifically designed for education. It’s easy to use, easy to teach with and easy to maintain. It can work on any operating system or hardware your school or university uses and it also updates automatically, so you’ll always have the most current version. Here’s an explanation of Include Me’s features and how disabled learners can use them to access digital content like documents, apps and websites. Phonetic Speller Our phonetic speller identifies even the most unusual spellings, which regular spell-checkers would not recognise. You can choose from a list of the most appropriate spelling corrections to select the correct replacement word for your document. This feature is great because it can help children and adult learners to read and spell uncommon words. It’s particularly using for learners with dyslexia. Homophones Include Me’s homophone checker finds words within your document that sound the same but can have different meanings. It helps you choose the right word replacement by offering a list of suitable alternatives complete with a dictionary definition of each. Again, this is a super-helpful feature for people with dyslexia and other learning difficulties. Colour Overlay The colour overlay feature lets you create your own coloured filter from thousands of colours that can be applied to documents and web pages to make their content easier to read. This feature is particularly helpful for learners who have a visual impairment such as full sight-loss, or for those who are colour-blind. Other features to help learners Other features also include the option to have text read aloud, a full English dictionary and the option to download selected text from a website or document so you can listen anytime on the go. There’s also a reading ruler, which can help learners with dyslexia access content up to twenty five per cent faster than without this feature. And the translation tool allows you to translate any website into over 100 languages. Try Include Me for free Do you want to make your school, college or university more inclusive? Book your appointment now for a demonstration of how Include Me works and a free trial for your organisation.
National bus operator Arriva UK Bus has joined forces with Recite Me to launch accessibility software on its website. With English, not necessarily the first language of all Arriva’s customers, the Recite Me toolbar was launched in March to help overcome such barriers and simplify the website journey for the user. It is also aimed at people who have dyslexia, dyspraxia or have visual impairments. Described as an “incredible tool” by David Shadbolt, Arriva’s digital content manager, who worked alongside Recite Me sales manager Martin Robertson and its founder, Ross Linnett, the toolbar significantly helps and improves online services for people who find standard formats challenging. With Arriva always striving to improve its services and listen to feedback from customers, Recite Me was the “obvious thing to do” according to David Shadbolt. The website is now easier to access for many people as it is now translatable into 103 different languages through its ‘accessibility and audio’ tab. Users are also provided with the option of changing font or font size, the themes of the web page, language displayed and enable a full dictionary and thesaurus. David Shadbolt said: “We simply want to remove barriers and make access to our website as straightforward as possible for everyone and we’ve been overwhelmed by how helpful the team at Recite Me have been working up to the launch. “A significant proportion of our passengers and website users don’t have English as their first language, so this is a simple tool for them to use efficiently and effectively. “We’re working with Recite Me to stop people with visual impairments, dyspraxia and dyslexia from continuing to be overlooked, and the Recite Me tool goes a long way to making their life easier. “We thank everyone at Recite Me for their hard work and dedication in the launch and hope our website visitors are finding the site much easier to use.”
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.
Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day! It’s a community-driven effort to raise the profile of digital accessibility and people with different disabilities across the world. The purpose of marking the day each year is to get as many people as possible talking, thinking and learning about digital accessibility. Internet and mobile accessibility is in our DNA and you might say that every day is ‘accessibility awareness day’ at Recite! Last year we marked the day with our infographic on mobile accessibility and this year we’ve chosen today to publish our new, free “Smart Guide to Web Accessibility” – you can download your copy here. Ross Linnett, CEO & Founder of Recite Me said: “Lots of people we talk to don’t really know where to start on web accessibility and there is a lot of confusing information out there. Our team has put together a short, smart guide with handy tips and essential facts on all you need to know about web access. Whether you’re in sales, marketing or in web development, this guide will ensure you’re up to speed.” Join in the conversation about Global Accessibility Awareness Day on Twitter #GAAD #a11y
London Gatwick, the world’s busiest single runway airport has added Recite Me’s cutting-edge accessibility and language software to its website, making it the first airport in the UK to provide this service for passengers. Around 12 million people in the UK, or 1 in 5 of the population, have a disability and would benefit from greater customisation of website content whether its changing the font size, colour contrast or having the content read aloud. Globally Gatwick Airport serves around 200 destinations in 90 countries with over 38 million passengers a year, one of the main reasons the airport has included the multi- language features also provided by the Recite Me app. Successfully running on gatwickairport.com, Recite Me’s accessibility and language software allows website visitors to access the website in the way that best works for them. The technology is Cloud-based so it works on any platform and works especially well on mobile devices. Mandie Armstrong, Digital Communications Manager, said: “With 38 million passengers passing through our doors each year it is vital that we provide accurate and up- to-date information on our website. “Having the Recite Me app means we can better meet the communications needs of our special needs passengers as well as those passengers whose first language is not English. “More and more of our passengers are accessing our website via mobile devices and smartphones, this app is Cloud-based and works wherever our passengers need it to work for them.” Ross Linnett, Recite Me Founder & CEO said: “Accessing the latest travel information on your tablet or smartphone is something many people now take for granted; but if you have dyslexia or a visual impairment, this is something you might not be able to do. “With Recite Me toolbar web users can do a variety of things such as increase the font or change the colour contrast settings or have the text read aloud. “As someone with dyslexia, having the option of the computer reading web content to me is the difference between me engaging with your business or not.”
Dublin City University is the latest higher education institution to start working with Recite Me to improve accessibility on their website for students, prospective students and staff. We're delighted about this new working relationship as we passionately believe that all students should have access to the information they need for their education. Thanks to advances in technology there is no real reason that someone's disability or learning difficulty would stop them from using the internet. Our accessibility software allows web visitors to customise the web page how they need to - this could be changing the colour contrast settings or simply changing the font or increasing its size. Dublin City University said: "As a leading centre of excellence in higher education Dublin City University is committed to providing equality of access to learners with disabilities or learning difficulties and for our students with English as an additional language. All of Dublin City University students and prospective students now benefit from Recite Me's web accessibility software which is available with one click of the accessibility button on our homepage. We are proud that all Dublin City University website visitors can choose their own access settings, whether its their preferred language or a different colour contrast or font size or having the text read out loud. Increasingly our students and prospective students are visiting our website from their smartphones and tablet devices as well on their laptops or PCs, we chose Recite Me because it works seamlessly across all devices."