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Lifeways is the UK’s leading team of support professionals for adults with diverse and complex needs living fulfilling and independent lives in the community. In 1995 Lifeways opened its first location for people with complex needs. Over 25 years later and they have grown to become the UK’s largest supported living specialist and help almost 5,000 people to live more independently.
To make Lifeways online presence as inclusive as possible, they have launched their all-new website with accessibility and language support tool, Recite Me. This accessibility support will enable staff and all website visitors to read and understand important information easily online. Across the UK, 20% of the population has some form of disability, and 1 in 7 people are neurodivergent, meaning that they can find accessing online content challenging. Everyone visiting the Lifeways website will now be able to customise their website with a number of unique features. These support tools including text-to-speech, reading support functionalities, styling options, where people can change the colour scheme as well as the texts font style, size, colour, and spacing. For people who speak English as a second language, the toolbar also includes on-demand translation into over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices. Lifeways is the UK’s largest supported living specialist and help almost 5,000 people to live more independently. They believe in equal access to opportunities and are focused on creating environments where people feel valued and comfortable – this includes making their online support and service information accessible to as many people as possible. “It is important that we make access to our services and finding information as easy as possible for all our website users and making the Recite Me tool available for users with accessibility issues, ensures that everyone will now be able to enjoy the same experience.” Deborah Jones, Head of Marketing at Lifeways
On 15 July, Recite Me will be supporting World Youth Skills Day, the key aim of which is to draw attention to the importance of equipping young people with the skills they need to gain employment. This is something that Recite Me is incredibly passionate about, especially when it comes to supporting those in the youth sector who struggle with disabilities. Yet even without considering the additional issues faced by those with learning difficulties, visual impairments, and physical disadvantages, the youth sector is already facing an uphill battle… The Youth of Today Young people play a vital role in our society both in terms of general development and the economy, and the students of today are the workforce of tomorrow. Yet, while the youth population grew by 139 million in the two-decade period between 1997 and 2017, the youth labour force shrank by a staggering 58.7 million. This is very concerning, especially in the current climate where the challenges that face us as a society are constantly evolving. In post-COVID-19 economies, young people are likely to be the sector most called upon to contribute to recovery efforts. To do so, they will need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to address current issues and confront future disruptions. So rising youth unemployment is a significant issue for all societies in the modern world: In 2016 there were 259 million young people not in employment, education, or training. By 2019 that number rose to 267 million and is projected to rise further to 273 million by 2021. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, young people were already three times as likely as adults (25 years and older) to be unemployed. Currently, more than 1 in 6 young people are unemployed. Learning Barriers In order to gain the skills, training, and knowledge they need to succeed, young people need adequate education. Even before COVID-19, distance learning had already become a common way to access education and skills training, and now with 70% of the world’s learners affected by school, college, and university closures, this trend is set to continue. “The interest in distance learning has been growing, but the real boom is still ahead. In the coming years, the education market will adapt to the needs of people born in the digital age, with an emphasis on technology.” John Unger (an author who specialises in education, business, and innovation) However, simply providing the resources for online learning does not make education accessible when you consider that: Approximately 19 million children worldwide suffer from a vision impairment that affects their ability to access online materials. In the US, approximately one in six children (about 17%) aged between 3 and 17 has one or more developmental disabilities. In the UK, there are approximately 351,000 people under 17 with a learning disability. One in every five children has attention issues. At least 10% of all school children are dyslexic. Many students learn in a second language. A recent audit of universities in the UK discovered that around 20% of all attendees are international students. Of course, these statistics only include data that is known to the authorities, and in early childhood only severe disabilities are likely to be apparent. Taking dyslexia as a specific example, a recent study has suggested that schools could be failing to diagnose up to 80% of cases, and many children who struggle in their formative years are just dismissed as being “slow learners”. This was certainly the case for our founder and CEO, Ross Linnett, who did not discover he was dyslexic until he was 22 and already a university graduate. It wasn’t until a close friend with experience of dyslexia suggested that he might have the condition that Ross was diagnosed and provided with assistive technology. It was helpful but limiting, mainly because it was based on access to just one computer. Hence the idea for Recite Me was born… Assistive Technology as a Learning Aid Ross founded Recite Me when he realized that traditional assistive technology wasn't helping him access the web as effectively as it should be in today’s digital age. He created the company with a clear vision that cloud-based software was the future for people who use multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. He asserted that if cloud-based solutions make sense for sharing files (e.g. Dropbox) and listening to music (e.g. Spotify), then this should also be the case for assistive technology. Recite Me is now a global enterprise SaaS company with clients across the UK, Europe, Australia, and America. Our unique assistive toolbar is an accessibility solution that allows users to customise a website in the way that works best for them, and in doing so compensates for a broad spectrum of barriers including: Visual impairments Deafblindness Colour blindness Dyslexia Hyperlexia Dyspraxia ADHD Speaking English as a second language Epilepsy Mobility and physical impairments A Message to Educators Access to education and skills training is vital in order to achieve economic growth and personal success, and at Recite Me we believe that children need to be supported from a young age to adequately prepare them for adult life and employment. Every stage of education should be inclusive, and all students need to be able to easily access information online. To that end, we already work with some incredible children’s organisations and educational institutions, including: Just 4 Children Children in Scotland International Schools Partnership Multiple universities, colleges, and student union bodies across the UK Children and Adult Disability and Educational Services (CADES) in the USA We encourage all businesses and institutions in the education and training sector to join us in helping young learners, and in doing so play their part in shaping our culture, society, and economy for the better. By working together to improve access to skills and education we can make a real difference, and in providing assistive technology, organisations can become truly accessible to students with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, and those who speak English as a second language. "We wanted to make sure our website was accessible to as many people as possible. There are so many different features on the Recite Me toolbar that it covers everything from an accessibility and language perspective. The team at Recite Me are very proud and passionate about their software and have been great to work with." Amy Simpson, Head of Digital Communications, Cranfield University We invite you to read some of our case studies, and if you’d like to see more you can book a demo of the Recite Me assistive toolbar by contacting our team.
West Devon is a local government district and borough in Devon, England. Towns in the district include Chagford, Okehampton, Princetown, and Tavistock, where the council is based. The district was formed on 1 April 1974 and serves a population of around 55,000 people.
The easy answer is that web accessibility is now such an important consideration that you simply cannot afford for your website not to be accessible. But, of course, there is more to it than that… We’ve come a long way since the early days when US astronomer Clifford Stoll submitted an article entitled “The Internet? Bah!” into a Newsweek publication, boldly predicting that the internet was no more than a passing fad. Obviously, he couldn’t have been more wrong, and today the internet is an incredibly important tool and a more valuable source of information than ever - and it’s not going anywhere! Just like the internet itself, accessibility is by no means a passing fad. So if you commit to having a website for your business at all, then why not make it fully inclusive and accessible, rather than alienating groups of users and consumers? In an age where the entire world is embracing diversity and fighting for equality, the phrase ‘be kind’ seems to get bounced around on an ever-increasing basis. So we urge you to be kind to your website users and adapt to meet the needs of those who suffer from a range of disabilities including: Visual impairments Deafblindness Colour blindness Dyslexia Hyperlexia Dyspraxia ADHD Speaking English as a second language Epilepsy Mobility and physical impairments Key Reasons to Ensure Your Website Is Accessible 1. Revenue: Making your website accessible to all consumers is the smart thing to do. The business case for accessibility varies based on the type of organisation, but particularly in the case of commercial companies, justification is required before resources can be allocated towards it. At Recite Me, we are confident that the benefits outweigh the effort and costs, and a recent research study of Fortune 100 companies discovered that having a robust online diversion and inclusion policy is a common denominator among high performing businesses. Plus, there is an abundance of information and statistics that rebut the argument that return on investment is too difficult to measure in order to warrant the outlay required: The total disposable income of the US working-age population with disabilities is $490 billion The online spending power of people with access needs in the UK is £24.8 billion. 86% of users with access needs would spend more if there were fewer barriers. 83% of people with access needs limit their shopping to sites that they know are accessible. 71% of users leave a site that they find hard to use. Ultimately, users will click away from inaccessible websites and spend their money elsewhere. So there is a clear case that making a business accessible online as well as in-person should lead to an increase in profits. Despite this, fewer than 10% of businesses have a targeted plan to access the disability market. 2. Improving User Experience: Making your website accessible to all consumers is the right thing to do. It is a commonly agreed principle that everyone should have access to information online. Microsoft’s application guide for developers specifically states that designing inclusive software results in improved usability and customer satisfaction, and this is something that the team at Recite Me can verify from experience. The inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, believes that the internet should empower all members of society by making information accessible to everyone. “The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect…The Web is fundamentally designed to work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, location, or ability.” Sir Tim Berners-Lee Inclusivity online becomes increasingly relevant when you consider that: Approximately one in every hundred people worldwide has a learning difficulties that can make accessing information online difficult. At least one billion people worldwide have a recognised disability that can make accessing information online difficult. 20% of the UK population and 25% of the US population live with a disability. One in ten people in the UK doesn’t speak English as their first language. More than one in five people living in America speak a language other than English at home. 3. Compliance & Legalities: Making your website accessible to all consumers is a thing you must do. Nowadays, it is expected by law that businesses and service providers do not treat disabled people less favourably. So in order to avoid lawsuits, companies are required to adhere to national and international standards and guidelines. A few examples are as follows: In the UK - The Equality Act of 2010 states that all UK service providers must consider ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled people. Furthermore, the final deadline for all public sector bodies to meet the new accessibility regulations for public sector websites and applications is set for 23 September 2020, with further regulations for private sector compliance expected to follow in due course. In the USA - Web accessibility regulations are covered under various federal laws including The American Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that companies make accommodations for disabled users with specific regard to web accessibility. In Norway – It is illegal for commercial websites not to provide equal access for people with disabilities, and fines are issued to companies that do not comply. In the European Union – The European Accessibility Act requires that all businesses operating in the e-commerce sector meet minimum accessibility requirements. Worldwide – The World Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) have been developed to provide a set of core principles and minimum standards to meet the needs of consumers internationally. These guidelines define how content should be made more accessible to those with disabilities, and are the premium standards that should be adopted by organisations globally. Despite the increase in accessibility guidelines and legislation in recent years, companies around the world are still failing to meet minimum requirements: In 2019, an evaluation by WebAIM concluded that 97.8% of homepages failed to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). 70% of websites in the USA have critical accessibility issues, and web accessibility lawsuits hit a record number in 2019 with 11,053 cases being filed through the federal court. A particularly landmark case was the victory of Guillermo Robles, a blind man who successfully sued Dominos after he was unable to order food on the company’s website. With this in mind, it is essential that all businesses including commercial companies, educational institutions, non-profit organisations, and governmental bodies are aware of the national and international guidelines that apply to them. Particular attention should be given to developing a thorough understanding of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and ensuring compliance. Ready to Embrace Accessibility? You should be! Aside from the financial, ethical, and legal advantages, there’s also a significant feel-good factor associated with inclusivity that boosts morale across an organisation. If you would like to book a demo of the Recite Me assistive toolbar to help you towards your inclusivity goals and optimise your business for success, please feel free to contact our team. Installations of the Recite Me toolbar onto third party websites supported millions of web users in 2019: Over 4.5 million launches of the Recite Me toolbar Over 21.5 million accessibility toolbar features used Over 9 million website translations in over 100 languages Nearly 10 million pieces of content read aloud in 35 languages Over 1.4 million styling customisations 2,600 audio files downloaded Try it for Free! It is vital, especially in the current climate, that information can be understood by everyone, and the demand for accessible and inclusive websites has never been greater. Put simply, service providers and consumers alike must go online more than ever before to conduct their daily business and transactions. Throughout the current pandemic, Recite Me is offering to host a free accessible and inclusive landing page for any business, allowing you to share COVID-19 related messages with your staff and customers.
The Recite Me website assistive technology toolbar has been given an update to support users around the world, helping them access websites in a way that works best for them. With the latest update from Recite Me, Word by Word highlighting improves the connection between voice support and word identification in over 35 languages. Creating a text highlighting feature allows people to follow words on the screen much more easily, allowing them to focus and stop being distracted by other content on the page. A user of the Recite Me accessibility and language support toolbar will also now be able to choose between a male and female voice in the following languages; Danish, Dutch, English (Australian), English (GB), English (USA), French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. As part of this software update, users can also control the reading speed of the text. These new features allow the user to create a completely customisable text to speech experience. The support toolbar has also undergone a redesign for 2020. A simple modern, universal flat design that most people will recognize with vibrant bold colours to stand out as a functional website tool. Recite Me Updates • Word by word highlighting • Male or female voice options • Reading speed • Toolbar redesign "We're super excited to be launching this fantastic new update to the Recite Me service. The new changes will allow our customers to engage with digital content in an even more personalised way, offering an enhanced experience across our entire user base. “The latest update also contains features that our users have specifically requested so it's great to be able to offer this back to our community." Ross Linnett, CEO and Founder of Recite Me This latest update will continue to benefit millions of people who currently miss out on online and mobile content; Recite works across all devices, giving everyone the opportunity to use the internet the way it is intended.
Awin is proud to announce the implementation of cloud-based web accessibility assistive toolbar solution Recite Me across their North American websites. Approximately 61 million (26%) adults in the United States live with a disability and they can often face barriers when visiting inaccessible websites. With COVID-19 transitioning the majority of individuals around the world to a digital living environment - whether that be for work, school, socializing or spending – it’s become more important than ever for companies to ease any barriers their website users may face as our lives became further dependent upon the worldwide web. Awin was thrilled to discover Recite Me’s award-winning innovative assistive technology in its search to make Awin.com more accessible and inclusive, solving many challenges faced by those who have a disability, learning difficulties, visual impairments or people who speak English as a second language Visitors on Awin’s US and Canadian websites can activate the accessibility support via the orange ‘Accessibility Tools’ button in the upper right-hand corner. This easy to use software includes text-to-speech functionality (including 35 text-to-speech voices), fully customizable styling options, reading aids and a translation tool with over 100 languages, and more. Furthermore, Recite Me works across all device types, enabling all website visitors to read and understand content, features and functionality awin.com provides. Alexandra Forsch, President of Awin US says: “At Awin, diversity and inclusion is not an initiative but core to who we are as a company and how we run our business operations. Recite Me allows us to ensure an inclusive online environment and positive user experience for all of our partners and employees visiting Awin.com. We couldn’t be more thrilled to provide this tool for their website usage.” Ross Linnett, CEO & Founder of Recite Me commented, “Being able to make your website welcoming and easy to use for all customers is key to creating the perfect online experience. Recite Me is proud to partner with AWIN US to lead the way in driving accessible and unbeatable online shopping experiences for 1 in 4 people in the US with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments or people who speak English as a second language. “ Awin and ShareASale hope partners consider Recite Me’s innovative assistive technology solution as part of their larger inclusion and diversity efforts. Recite Me are thrilled to offer Awin clients an exclusive discount now through September 30. To learn more about Recite Me and how to implement this technology on your website today, please complete Awin’s partner form here.
With twenty years of experience, our network offers a global community of people, technology and business intelligence insights. No matter what type of partner, level of service, or tools your business needs, Awin provides solutions to drive sustainable growth. Along with our partner network ShareASale, Awin’s global affiliate network is powered by 15 offices worldwide, over 1,000 employees, 205,000 contributing publishers and 14,600 advertisers. Connecting businesses with customers around the world across the retail, telecommunications, travel and finance verticals, Awin generated $12.2 billion in revenue for its advertisers and $901 million for its publishers in the last financial year.
Did you know that the deafblind community represents approximately 2% of the world’s population? Deafblindness is often referred to as ‘dual sensory loss’ or ‘dual sensory impairment’, and is defined by Deafblindness UK as “the loss of sight and hearing to the point where your communication, mobility, and ability to access information are impacted”. Included in this are progressive sight and hearing losses over time. This makes the condition more prevalent in the older population, as this is when hearing and eyesight will naturally decrease. However, deafblindness is prevalent across all age groups - although in many cases it goes undetected. “Combined sight and hearing loss affects around 400,000 people in the UK, but many people don’t realise that they’re suffering and just struggle on.” Simon Moore, Director of Operations at Deafblindness UK How Deafblindness Affects Everyday Life Having hearing and visual impairments make everyday tasks more challenging. In the physical world, deafblind people struggle with a whole range of problems that most of us would not even stop to consider, such as following signage directions, reading menus, or having a conversation in a noisy environment. In the online world, there are even more barriers as there is no human presence, and therefore nobody to ask for clarification or explanations when there is information that users can’t read or understand. The information is simply either accessible, or it’s not. The scope of issues encountered by deafblind web users is varied. For example, a person with decreased vision may struggle with certain fonts or text sizes, whereas someone who is colour blind will have problems reading text due to poor colour contrast with the background. This is why accommodating for a broad spectrum of accessibility needs online is so important, and why the Recite Me assistive toolbar is such a valuable tool. Deafblind Accessibility & Inclusion Online At Recite Me, we believe that people with visual impairments should have the ability to customise a website and view the content in whatever way works best for them, and there are many reasons for companies to accommodate this requirement. One is simply the moral principle that it’s the right thing to do, as everyone should have the opportunity to be able to access online content. This has become increasingly important in recent months, as with social isolation at an all-time high due to Covid-19, concerns have been raised that deafblind consumers could become doubly isolated if they are unable to access all of the information they need online. There are, of course, multiple business benefits of online inclusion too, such as enhancing brand image, extending market reach, and driving innovation. “Many organisations are waking up to the fact that embracing accessibility leads to multiple benefits – strengthening brand presence, improving customer experience and colleague productivity.” Paul Smyth, Head of Digital Accessibility, Barclays In addition to the ethical and corporate arguments for being inclusive of the deafblind community, there are various legal requirements too, as it is expected by law that businesses and service providers do not treat disabled people less favourably. Companies that are leading the way with innovations that promote inclusivity for the deafblind include: Apple – In its latest update for ios14, Apple appears to have focused on aspects that are important to those who are deafblind. New features include a ‘back tap’ function for easier access to favourite shortcuts, and sound detection software to alert users to ambient noise like fire alarms. Improvements have also been made to existing features for voice control, headphone accommodations, magnification options, and sign language recognition. Barclays Bank – The Barclays mobile banking app has been designed with deafblind accessibility in mind and includes features like inverting screen colours and voiceover technology to make information easier to access, along with fingerprint and face recognition for easier access to the app in general. Users can also chat face-to-face using the video banking service whenever they have the app open. Google - Google’s latest update includes contrast minimums that are important for those who are colour blind or have decreased vision. Improvements to the autocomplete feature makes writing and typing easier too. How to be Deafblind Friendly in 2020 So how can you make your website more accessible to the deafblind community? After all, not many organisations have the resource and development budgets of the giants mentioned above to custom-build platforms and apps. We encourage all businesses to think about how people with sight and hearing loss interact with their company and consider what adjustments can be made to make their lives easier. Bear in mind that the potential rewards could be significant. In a recent survey, the Click-Away Pound Survey discovered that: ● 71% of users leave a site that they find hard to use. ● For 81% of users, ease of use is more important than price. ● £17.1 billion was spent by consumers in 2019 on sites that were easier to use (up from £11.75 billion in the 2016 survey). One of the simplest and most efficient ways to optimise your online presence for diversity and inclusion is to install an accessibility feature like the Recite Me toolbar. Recite Me is a cloud-based web accessibility solution that allows users to customise the way they consume a website. For deafblind users, this includes several features that allow content to be perceived either through sound or by enhanced visual means. Users can: ● Utilise the text-only function to reposition text on a screen. ● Adjust the font, size, colour, and spacing of the text. ● Use the screen mask and on-screen ruler to hold their place on a page. ● Have text read aloud in over 40 different text-to-speech languages ● Choose the colour contrast between text and background. The Next Steps We recommend all companies check to make sure they are abiding by the core principles and minimum requirements set out in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1), the principles of which apply to all businesses and organisations globally. For further details on best practices for deafblind inclusion specifically, and for more information about the Recite Me assistive toolbar, please contact our team or book a demo.
Disability Rights Florida was founded in 1977 as the state’s designated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) system for individuals with disabilities. Disability Rights Florida advocates, educates, investigates, and litigates to protect and advance the rights, dignity, equal opportunities, self-determination and choices for all people with disabilities.
To enable parents, carers, and professionals to access online content without any barriers, Witherslack Group is proud to announce a new accessibility and language feature on its websites. Witherslack Group provides specialist education and care for children and young people with social, emotional and mental health needs, communication difficulties, ADHD and complex learning needs. The Group’s focus on support, care and acceptance allows each young person to develop as an independent individual, equipped with the knowledge, experience and life skills to look to the future with increased confidence and aspiration The Group and school websites have integrated Recite Me, a web accessibility toolbar that allows all visitors to customise the site in a way that works best for them. Greg Deak, Marketing Manager of Witherslack Group commented, “As the leading provider of specialist education and care, we’re continually working to find new ways to enable parents, carers and professionals to access our online content. Our new partnership with Recite Me will provide new accessibility options to enable more people to access our information, advice, and support.” People with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments or people who speak English as a second language will be able to use a wide range of features to support their visit, including, text to speech reader, fully customisable styling tools, reading support features and a translation function with over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices Ross Linnett, Recite Me founder and CEO, added, “Witherslack Group go above and beyond to create life-changing experiences and it is great that we have partnered together to provide a fully inclusive website. Through assistive technology, everyone will be able to access information to support children, young people, and their families.”
Founded in 1996, Witherslack Group provides specialist education and care to children and young people with social, emotional, and mental health needs, communication difficulties, ADHD, and complex learning needs. The Group’s track record of success and sector-leading Ofsted judgments has been achieved through an ethos of high aspiration, placement stability, unique in-school therapy solutions, and inspiring environments.
The Searchologist was founded by Katrina Collier in 2009, initially to teach HR & recruiters social recruiting but it has evolved to inspire all the people who recruit people to treat people better, through facilitation, speaking and The Robot-Proof Recruiter book. Katrina has successfully worked with leading companies around the world and spoken at major HR & recruitment conferences.