News & Media
If you work for a law firm or insurance company, managing risk is part of your job. But, what if we told you that you might already be taking an unnecessary risk? By not making your website accessible, you risk missing out on 25% of your target market. On average, 1 in 5 people has a disability that can prevent them from accessing information online. Inequality in accessing information leads to inequality in access to products and services, creating even more disparity for people who already feel marginalised and vulnerable. We’ve chosen to discuss insurance and legal firms together because of the many synergies between the two sectors: Both services involve complex language that can be challenging for anyone to read, let alone vulnerable customers facing online access barriers. Both services are typically required in times of immense stress or hardship. Choosing the right policy or service is an emotional purchase because customers are looking to protect their lives, livelihoods, homes, health, and family. Vulnerable Customers Explained “Nobody should be at a disadvantage just because they read and understand information differently.” Ross Linnett, Recite Me Founder and CEO There is a general expectation that buying insurance or legal cover can be done in seconds within just a few clicks. But for those who face online access barriers, it’s not that straightforward. People with disabilities have to spend way more time, effort, and energy purchasing cover or getting an accurate quote. Why? Because the way many websites are designed and presented makes them inaccessible. It’s worth remembering that not all disabilities are physical. Many hidden and temporary disabilities also affect website accessibility. Here are just a few examples of conditions that can make accessing information online challenging: Visual impairments Deafblindness Colour blindness Dyslexia Hyperlexia Dyspraxia ADHD Epilepsy Autism Temporary or permanent physical impairments Speaking and reading English as a second language It’s incredibly difficult for these customers to feel that they’re in control and getting the best advice and deals because it’s so much harder to access and absorb information when they are researching their options. Online Access Barriers By excluding vulnerable customers from accessing the information on your website, you are doing them an injustice. You’re also actively blocking up to 20% of the population from accessing your services. Here’s how: Some website functions are unavailable to customers using screen readers to compensate for vision deficits Those with hearing loss cannot follow demonstration or explainer videos. Colourblind people cannot read text on websites with poor colour contrasts between the background and foreground. Websites using certain fonts and pages with lots of underlining or italics are impossible for people with dyslexia to read. Flashing content and distracting image carousels are not welcoming to people with epilepsy or cognitive/neurological disabilities. People with mobility issues rely on keyboard navigation as they are unable to use a tablet or mouse. Those not confident reading in English are afraid to make purchases because they don’t understand the long sentences and complicated terminology. In many cases where insurance and legal assistance is required, customers are already under significant pressure. For example, in stressful situations such as bereavement or divorce, people become overwhelmed and struggle to understand information - regardless of whether they have a pre-existing condition or not. So, the clearer and easier your information is to access, the better it is for everyone. “Failure to communicate with vulnerable consumers in ways they can understand may result in an increased risk. Consumers may not be able to understand the information they are sent or may struggle to communicate their needs.” The Financial Conduct Authority Report, July 2020 Equal Support for Everyone Everybody should have the right to protect their loved ones and belongings and access legal advice and support when they need it. Yet, we continue to see access barriers across the legal, insurance, and finance sectors. Research by QA Vector revealed that: Only 35% say accessibility is among their top strategic concerns. Only 25% embed accessibility testing into software development. Over 70% indicate no clear ownership of digital accessibility within corporate governance. Less than 30% have reliable or meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) for accessibility. Attention to accessibility is usually only driven by legal action or complaints. That last point is particularly disheartening. There are several reasons why making your website accessible is the right thing to do, and - spoiler alert - the law is one of them! It’s pretty crazy to think that so many firms don’t make reasonable adjustments themselves when so much of their core daily business revolves around handling legalities on behalf of other entities. Companies Leading the Way We are delighted to welcome firms committed to providing inclusive online journeys and we’re proud to work with several organisations in the law and insurance sectors already. Our current client list includes: Cura Cura offers accessible insurance services to people who have difficulty buying policies that cover life insurance, critical illness, and income protection. With diversity and inclusion as a focal point, the team at Cura is passionate about driving inclusive insurance forward to help as many people as possible. “Improving accessibility to your organisation shouldn’t be a side project or something that you’ll eventually get around to. It is simply the right thing to do.” Kathryn Knowles, Founder Keystone Law Keystone Law brings a particularly modern attitude to the legal marketplace. Their motto is “Where innovation delivers results”, and the firm prides itself on doing things differently. Their unique approach includes using bespoke technology and contemporary working practices to revolutionise the industry. “There’s a real element of loyalty and trust that comes with making content more accessible. We don’t want clients to visit our website for 30 seconds and not get what they need. We want them to be engaged and genuinely read what’s available.” Georgiana Foster, PR and Communications Manager Lindsays Lindsays is a Scottish law firm with offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Dundee. They offer advice and guidance to businesses and individuals, and have already been listed in The Legal 500 and Chambers UK guides to the best law firms for 2022. “Given that a large majority of legal services are often of a sensitive or personal nature, it’s important for clients to feel that Lindsays is approachable and accessible. 11% of the people who opened the launch email for our latest online publication used the Recite Me assistive toolbar to view it. This reinforces the importance of making it as easy as possible for everyone to access information that they want.” FLiP FLiP is a London-based law firm specialising in family law. They promise exceptional legal expertise, integrity, and specialist emotional and practical support. FLiP was named as a leader for client service by Legal Business in 2020 and was ranked as one of the best law firms by The Times in 2019, 2020, and 2021. “The Recite Me toolbar reinforces both our commitment to diversity and inclusion in all its forms, and our commitment to ensuring that we deliver the very best service to our clients.” How Does Recite Me Help? Once the Recite Me assistive toolbar is installed on a website, access barriers can be broken down. By making single or multiple adjustments to create a uniquely customised experience, users can: Personalise font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read. Download content as an audio file as an alternative to reading. Access text to speak functions in 35 different languages. Have text read aloud at varying speeds. Utilise a screen mask and ruler for better focus. Convert text into over 100 different on-screen languages. Make use of the toolbar’s built-in dictionary and thesaurus. Switch to “text-only” mode to strip away graphics and page clutter. Recite Me Data Recite me is now installed on over 3,500 websites, and over the last 12 months, our data shows that: The Recite Me assistive toolbar was launched over 3 million times Over 16.5 million web pages were viewed using the toolbar Over 4.1 million individual styling changes were made 12.3 million pieces of content were translated into different languages 31 million pieces of content were read aloud 4 Steps to an Inclusive Online World If you’re an insurance broker or law firm looking to make your website more inclusive, these are the recommended steps to follow: Test your website against Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These are internationally recognised and are required by law for certain sectors and public-facing entities. Rectify any site errors that are not level A or AA compliant. Update your website build to meet best practices for an inclusive experience. Invest in assistive technology to provide a truly customisable and inclusive online journey. Recite Me is quick and easy to implement on your website and can usually be installed in under an hour. If you’d like to know more or join the hundreds of companies that have already adopted our inclusive, please contact our team or request a demonstration.
Recite Me’s accessibility and language options help organizations to attract and support a diverse range of candidates throughout the online recruitment journey.
Recite Me assistive technology helps organizations support vulnerable populations with access to vital information by providing an inclusive barrier-free user experience on their websites.
Recite Me assistive technology supports travel organizations to provide an inclusive and easy-to-use experience on their websites for a diverse range of international visitors.
Every home needs access to gas, water and electricity. Yet, utility services are not always readily available to all. Throughout the last year, many customers have been homebound due to COVID-19 restrictions and unable to access services and information easily online. One of the easiest ways to ensure information is accessible to all is to utilize assistive technology.
The not-for-profit sector is well known for supporting some of the most vulnerable members of our society. So it makes sense that many charities and not-for-profit organizations are taking the lead in tackling web accessibility as a way of championing their causes as efficiently as possible. Recite Me assistive technology supports many charities and not-for-profit organizations to engage with their audience.
Today marks Purple Tuesday, an international initiative that celebrates diversity and creates awareness about the spending power of those with disabilities. Commonly known as ‘the purple pound’, the e-commerce spending power of this consumer group is all the more important this year, as during 2021 our society has been pushed online on a daily basis much more than ever before. Of course, physical accessibility factors are still an important consideration, but as the largest minority group in the world, it is important to remember that the disability market covers much more than physical disabilities alone. So businesses must consider digital accessibility in their long-term strategies and ensure the inclusion of those who struggle with cognitive, learning, and neurological disorders, have visual impairments, poor literacy, or read in English as a second language, as well as those who are physically disabled. The Disability Market Spending Power Approximately 20% of people in the UK and 25% of people in the USA sit in the disability market. The sheer size of this market demonstrates why it is vital that website content is accessible and inclusive for everyone. In the UK alone, the #PurplePound – the spending power of disabled people and their families – is worth a staggering £274 billion and is estimated to be rising by 14% per year, yet less than 10% of organisations have a targeted plan to access the disability market. “Ensuring that disabled people are able to access shops, restaurants and clubs isn’t just the right thing to do - it makes business sense too. By failing to cater to their disabled customers, many businesses are missing out on the spending power of disabled people and are denying them the opportunity to enjoy something which many people take for granted. There is still time to get involved in this important initiative and I encourage businesses across the country to do just that - and reap the rewards.” Sarah Newton, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work The Click Away Pound Click-Away Pound is a research survey that analyses the online shopping habits and experiences of people with disabilities. The latest survey in 2019 demonstrates in relatable terms exactly how important it is for retailers to provide digital accessibility on their websites and apps: 70% of online consumers surveyed will click away from websites that they find difficult to use. 83% of participants limit their shopping to sites that they know are accessible. 86% of respondents choose to pay more for products from accessible websites rather than purchase the same products for less on websites that are harder to use. 35% of users with access needs use a smartphone as their preferred device for online shopping. Only 8% of users with access needs will contact the site owner about any accessibility barriers they experience. At Recite Me, we believe that online shops and services should be open to everyone. But despite these overwhelming statistics, many retailers still don't design and build their websites and apps to include everyone, turning away millions of customers and billions in revenue in the process. E-Commerce Trends Internet service providers like BT's Openreach reported a surge in internet use during the pandemic. But even before the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers were already seeing a significant shift towards online shopping year on year: According to a study by Invesp, the USA and the UK are the countries with the highest average e-commerce revenue per shopper, at $1,804 and £1,629 per person per annum respectively. The British Retail Consortium expects that over half of all UK retail sales will be online by 2030. The USA is expected to have 300 million online shoppers by 2023. That’s 91% of the entire population! We are living in a time where more and more daily tasks and transactions are taking place on the internet, so these statistics highlight the need for imminent action in order to meet the demand for more accessible online products and services. The Disability Market & E-Commerce Trends The spending power of disabled people and their families is rising by 14% per year on year, yet less than 10% of businesses have a plan in place to target the disability market, and over 98% of homepages across 1 million popular websites failed to meet legal accessibility standards in 2019. As only a small percentage of consumers contact companies directly when they run into accessibility barriers online, it is possible that most businesses aren’t aware of how inaccessible their websites are. What is clear, however, is that people with disabilities will buy more and are prepared to pay premium prices to businesses that offer them a better and more accessible online service. So businesses that are forward-thinking and progressive would do well to act now to ensure survival and continued success. "Digital communications can influence every stage of the visitor’s decision-making process, and as the first port of call for many people planning a trip, it is important that our website reflects inclusivity and allows people of all abilities to access the information they need.” Emma Burdett, Web & Digital Marketing Manager, Visit Belfast How to Support Disabled Shoppers Online We encourage companies to take the Purple Tuesday pledge and make changes to improve the online experiences of people with disabilities. Making your website welcoming and easy to use for all customers is key. Not just on Purple Tuesday, but every day, 365 days a year. If you think you might be missing out on the Click Away Pound, the Recite Me assistive toolbar is a simple and highly effective solution that can be embedded onto your website in a matter of minutes. Our software allows consumers barrier-free access to explore products and services online. Features include: A screen reader for easy navigation and focus. Styling options to fully customise text style, size, and spacing, and alter colour contrast for ease of use. Reading aids such as an on-screen ruler and text-only mode. A translation tool with over 100 text languages and 35 text-to-speech voices. Make Your Website Accessible Today! Join the thousands of satisfied clients who have already successfully integrated our accessibility software onto their sites and are benefiting from the value it provides. “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.” Alexandra Forsch, President of Awin To find out more or to book a demo please contact the team.
Trumpet Behavioral Health is providing assistive technology on their website, supporting the 1 in 54 adults, and 1 in 45 children in the US with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental delays. As a leading national Autism provider, Trumpet Behavioral Health works with parents, educators, and healthcare professionals to help individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Social Communication Disorders, and developmental delays reach their full potential through the use of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). By providing services in homes, schools, and autism treatment centers, the Trumpet team empowers parents, educators, and healthcare providers to better understand autism, utilize best practices, and contribute to successful outcomes. In an effort to create a more accessible and inclusive online environment, Trumpet Behavioral Health has implemented Recite Me accessibility and language tools on their website to remove online barriers for those with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, and those who speak English as a second language. "Our mission is to maximize the potential of our clients. We have specifically designed Clinics with environmental supports to help our clients learn new skills and reduce challenging behaviors safely. Our mission extends beyond our clients to anyone that needs additional support with accessing information about TBH's services. All of us at Trumpet Behavioral Health are proud to support and serve all individuals seeking our services by increasing the accessibility of our website in partnership with Recite Me." -Josh Sleeper, Chief Operating Officer at Trumpet Behavioral Health Trumpet Behavioral Health has locations across the United States, in California, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas. If you would like more information on how your organization can provide inclusive healthcare by using assistive technology, contact our team or book a real-time demonstration of our toolbar.
Chief Diversity Officer, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, and Head of Social Responsibility. These job titles would have sounded obscure a mere decade ago, but now they are commonplace in organisations across the globe. Why? Because in today’s society and within the modern-day workplace, injustices are taken more seriously and attitudes have been changing. When employees feel comfortable and supported in discussing their discriminative experiences in the workplace, it pushes businesses to improve their organisational culture from top to bottom. It wasn’t that long ago that diversity and inclusion (D&I) was perceived as a chore, but nowadays, more and more businesses see it as a means of achieving positive change. Did You Know… In Fortune and Deloitte’s 2021 survey, 96% of CEO’s agreed that D&I is a strategic priority. Inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80% in team-based assessments (Deloitte). Diverse companies enjoy 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee (Deloitte). Companies with diverse management teams drive 19% more revenue than less diverse organisations (Forbes). Diverse companies with inclusive teams are 87% better at decision making, are much more likely to capture new markets, and are 1.7 times more innovative than their competitors (BuiltIn Beta). What is Diversity & Inclusion? Diversity refers to individual characteristics and traits that make each person unique. These include gender, race, age, ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and physical ability. Inclusion represents the introduction of behaviours and social norms that make sure that everyone feels welcome. “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” Verna Myers, Cultural Change Activist, Author, and Keynote Speaker. Inclusion is essential if diversity efforts are to succeed. Simply checking the box on diversity hires is not enough. Creating an inclusive organisational culture is paramount to ensure employee engagement, productivity, and the long-term success of a business. How D&I Representatives Are Driving Change D&I roles have come a long way in recent years. Far from being a ‘check the box’ activity as a sub-component of the HR department, diversity and inclusion strategies have evolved into a core business function that businesses of all sizes should be keen to invest in. D&I managers are responsible for identifying, creating, and executing plans that promote inclusion. They drive change by taking a person-centric approach that puts each person before their job role, ensuring every employee is treated as an individual. On a broader scale, the job role involves: Developing training programmes that enhance employee understanding of inclusion. Reviewing workplace policies and standard operating procedures to ensure maximum inclusivity. Supporting the recruitment team to create a brand personality that appeals to diverse applicants. Working with HR to remove bias from application processes. Disability & Inclusion in the Workplace Physical disabilities are included in D&I considerations. However, there is a long list of none physical conditions that put people at a disadvantage. We call these hidden disabilities, and examples include vision problems, neurological differences, cognitive impairments, language issues, and learning difficulties. Physical and hidden disabilities often act as a barrier to entering the workforce. An article published in The Independent highlights that: On average, disabled people apply for 60% more jobs before finding one. Nearly 40% of disabled applicants feel insecure about getting hired as they believe employers will disregard their application based on their impairment or condition. Only 51% of applications from disabled people result in an interview, compared to 69% of non-disabled applicants. Online Barriers Applicants and employees with hidden disabilities are at a particular disadvantage online as they cannot assimilate information on websites easily. Accessing content is usually challenging for one of four main reasons: They Can’t Read It - The size of text, the font used, and the colour contrast between text and background can all be barriers to reading. They Don’t Understand It – Web copy should be in simple language, run logically, and include alt tags and link descriptions. They Can’t Navigate It – Website errors like empty links and buttons, missing input labels on forms, and missing document language often make keyboard navigation impossible. They Don’t Trust It – Flashing images, videos, or image carousels can be triggering. Without making adjustments for this, businesses fail to: Tap into the broadest talent pool available Provide an inclusive candidate journey Support employees with the tools they need to excel Allow staff to learn and grow to their full potential Essentially, this comes down to understanding the difference between equality and inclusion. Equality is giving applicants and employees the same fair treatment and consideration. Equity is giving them the tools they need to succeed. This means making reasonable adjustments that allow disabled employees to perform at the same level as their colleagues. How You Can Help There are several ways to improve your diversity and inclusion strategy to attract, support, and keep the best talent: Adopting inclusive web design principles and ensuring your social media profiles are accessible to a diverse range of applicants. Make inclusion an organisation-wide process, including leadership training in unconscious bias and active listening. Establish an inclusion council with an active role in goal-setting for recruitment, training and retention. Another proven way to support people online is to utilise assistive technology. Assistive software allows adaptions that account for varied digital access barriers. The Recite Me assistive toolbar is already used by a wide variety of companies to support diversity in the workplace. Our software provides a variety of tools that allow users to create a fully customisable experience by: Personalising font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read. Utilising the mask screen tool, which isolates parts of the page to help with focus. Using the ruler tool to make reading easier. Downloading content as an audio file as an alternative to reading. Converting page content into over 100 different on-screen languages. Having the page read aloud in a choice of 35 different languages. Customising PDF documents and having them read aloud or translated. Champions for Change We’re proud to be helping businesses across a variety of sectors to become digitally inclusive. We are also passionate about working alongside other organisations with the same vision as us - to achieve accessibility for all. We work closely with the D&I managers of our clients to make sure they get the best possible results from using our assistive technology software. Here’s what a few of them have to say. "Online inclusion is a central part of our work and we are excited to be working more closely with the team at Recite Me going forward as we aim to break down the barriers for our employees and customers. " Mo Kebbay, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, Landsec "We are delighted to collaborate with Recite Me to support our website visitors with assistive technology options so they can use the website in the best way that supports them, and they can then engage fully with the University " Justine Gillespie, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, University of Sunderland "The University of London is committed to providing an inclusive and accessible experience, regardless of how our audiences and stakeholders wish to engage with us. Recite Me is an excellent way for us to provide additional online tools and services for those visiting our website and increase the level of accessibility quickly and easily. We have also adopted the accessibility toolbar on our intranet and jobs website to ensure everyone can access and modify the content in a way that makes it most useful and usable." Mark Harrison, Head of Inclusion, University of London "We are delighted to have launched Recite Me on our club website. Our collective aim at Newcastle United is to create a culture as varied as that of the great city we are honoured to represent. This toolbar is a tremendous step forward in ensuring that people can access news and information about our club more easily which will undoubtedly increase our reach and engagement. " Lucy Oliver, Head of Inclusion, Newcastle United Football Club Recite Me Data Recite me is now installed on over 3,600 websites, and over the last 12 months, our data shows that: The Recite Me assistive toolbar was launched over 3 million times Over 16.4 million web pages were viewed using the toolbar Over 41. million individual styling changes were made 12.3 million pieces of content were translated into different languages 31 million pieces of content were read aloud 3 Steps to a Digitally Inclusive Workplace Creating an inclusive work environment is beneficial for everyone. Here’s our list of recommended steps to follow. 1. Commit to D& I Policies & Initiatives Provide an inclusive candidate journey to tap into the biggest pool of talent. Download our guide to accessible online recruitment, compiled in partnership with Guidant Global. Become a Disability Confident Employer. Disability Confident schemes exist to help employers be more inclusive and explore the benefits of employing disabled people. Over 20,000 forward-thinking companies, including Recite Me, are currently registered as Disability Confident. Be proactive in regularly gathering employee feedback and ensure that employees with disabilities have a say in decision-making processes. Create Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that provide employees with a safe space to meet and discuss common interests and issues. 2. Know the Regulations Become familiar with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and aim for level AA. This standard of compliance is legally required for certain sites and is typically the benchmark criteria used when ‘making a website accessible’. Businesses are required by law to make reasonable adjustments to avoid discriminating based on disability and accessibility. Examples include The Equality Act of 2010 ), The European Accessibility Act (Europe), The Americans with Disabilities Act (USA), and the Disability Discrimination Act (Aus). 3. Make Your Website Inclusive Accessibility software enables people with access needs to view your website and job vacancies in the way that works best for them. Many organisations also use accessibility software on internal systems like intranets and learning platforms to ensure company information is fully accessible and inclusive to their employees. “Inclusion is intentional. It is about identifying and removing barriers so that everyone can participate to the best of their ability.” Amy Harrison, Inclusion Specialist If you’d like to know more about how assistive technology can help make your business more inclusive, you can contact our team or request a demonstration.
On October 18th, 2021 Recite Me launched our very first ‘What Does Accessibility Mean to Me?’ week and we’re delighted to say it went brilliantly. 5 days were spent delving into a broad range of accessibility, diversity, and inclusion topics. At the center of our Accessibility Awareness week was the ‘What Does Accessibility Mean to Me?’ webinar. Our expert panel discussed what accessibility means to them, shared personal experiences, professional standpoints, and insights on what everyone can do to be more inclusive. Our Webinar Statistics and Takeaways download includes information about the panellists, key facts and statistics covered during the webinar and answers to some of the fantastic questions asked by the audience during the session.
Last week Recite Me launched our very first ‘What Does Accessibility Mean to Me?’ week and we’re delighted to say it went brilliantly. 5 days were spent delving into a broad range of accessibility, diversity and inclusion topics. We ran this week to provide a platform for everyone to come together to raise awareness for web accessibility, and give people a voice to express their opinions and experiences. Spreading the Importance of Accessibility and Inclusion Far and Wide We were blown away with the number of organisations and people who got involved. 115 organisations from the UK and the USA helped us raise awareness across multiple platforms. With the likes of London City Airport, Utilita Energy and Guidant Global opening up the conversation about accessibility. Through organisations and their amazing followers The Accessibility to Me campaign reached a staggering 600,000 people across LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. That’s 600,000 people learning about the importance of accessibility and inclusion. What Did We Do During The Week? To commemorate our very first accessibility awareness week, Ross Linnett, Recite Me Founder and CEO, wrote a personal guest blog. Accessibility is a topic extremely close to Ross’s heart and you can read Ross’s blog to find out about his story and what accessibility means to him. Other members of the Recite Me team also got involved to share their opinions and what accessibility means to them. Watch our video to find out what they said. What Does Accessibility Mean to our Clients & Partners? We were joined by clients and partners to delve deeper into their particular organisations and industries to understand more about accessibility and inclusion. Jade Haase, Head of Marketing at Murray McIntosh, helped us to shine a spotlight on accessibility in the recruitment sector and explained some of the online and offline barriers that applicants face. Read our Q&A with Jade here. Later in the week we spoke to Erin Flower, Group Marketing Manager at Everyone Active, to find out more about inclusive fitness. She shared examples of how they provide support for those with additional needs, as well telling us her hopes for the future of activity centres in terms of accessibility. Read our Q&A with Erin here. We were lucky enough to work on a video with Nell Andrew, Equality & Inclusion Officer at GMB Union, where she discusses her personal experiences with neurodiversity and the importance of providing an inclusive workplace. Watch the video here. So.. What Did People Say Accessibility Means to Them? Many people openly shared what accessibility means to them across social media. Below are some of the responses we received across the week. “To me, accessibility is making sure that everyone is able to get what they need in a simple and easy way, without struggle or stress understanding.” @RachelSlack20 “Accessibility to me is being empowered by the reasonable adjustments I use every day in my job.” @jamieshieldsVI “Accessibility is the feeling of people willing to adapt to you to work better together. It is feeling seen and valued for who you are. It’s being able to use your full potential with no barriers” Blanca, Aiimi “What accessibility means to us: Our mission is to provide support to persons with disabilities throughout their lifespan so they can achieve their highest level of independence in their community.” DAWN Center for Independent Living Accessibility To Me Webinar The highlight of the week was the Accessibility To Me Webinar on Thursday which was attended by 240 people from across all sectors. Our expert panel discussed what accessibility means to them, shared personal experiences, professional standpoints, and insights on what everyone can do to be more inclusive. Joining Ross Linnett, Recite Me Founder and CEO, was: Charlotte Sweeney OBE, an ID&E Specialist Dave Messenger, EDI and Disability Access Officer at Watford Football Club Jurgen Donaldson, Independent Talent Acquisition and Diversity Advisor Sophie O'Sullivan, a university student who has dyslexia At the end of the webinar they provided so insightful lasting comments for the audience to take away… Ross We can only get to the point where a disability doesn’t become a disadvantage if we all try as individuals and organisations to help marganilise groups, then eventually it will become the norm. Everyone will all have the same access. Charlotte It is important that organisations make sure they have diverse views and diverse perspectives around the table when they’re talking about different services, different products and different employee experiences. This should be done from the very beginning rather than further down the line. Jurgen When you are considering candidates that have disabilities, see their skills, not their disabilities. There is a huge wealth of untapped talent out there. Secondly, employers need to lead with empathy because it’s the right thing to do. Dave Make sure that you are listening when you are creating products/services and when you are speaking to customers. Let that be your starting point and let it guide you, there is nothing more important to understand as much as you can before you move forward. Sophie Recognising the strength of those with accessibility needs is important. They should feel empowered that they can have the access that opens up their world. The accessible world is the beaming light that shines over the reflection of doubt and difficulties that individuals have. We would like to say a huge thank you to all our amazing panelists! Supporting Your Accessibility Journey Online From everyone at Recite We would like to say thank you to everyone who got involved and helped make our first accessibility awareness week a huge success. The entire team was overwhelmed with the amount of support and the positive feedback we got - it was truly amazing! If you would like to learn more about online accessibility please feel free to contact our team who will be happy to help you.
Today marks the final day of our first ‘What Does Accessibility Mean to Me?’ awareness week, and it has been amazing to see so many organisations talking and learning about accessibility, diversity and inclusion. Neurodiversity is something that is very close to our hearts here at Recite Me, we see value in people sharing their experiences. Today, we caught up with Nell Andrew, Equality and Inclusion Officer, at GMB Union, as she discusses her personal experiences with neurodiversity and the importance of providing an inclusive workplace.
During our accessibility awareness week we are on a mission to bring people together to delve into a broad range of accessibility, diversity and inclusion topics. To find out more about inclusive fitness we caught up with Erin Flower, Group Marketing Manager, at Everyone Active. Everyone Active is the longest-established leisure operator in the UK and manages over 200 leisure centres. Their mission is to encourage everyone to participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity either in a centre or via online training, five times per week. Read our Q&A with Erin below. Who are you? My name is Erin Flower and I’m the Group Marketing Manager for Everyone Active. My role is a varied one, ranging from co-ordinating printed media for our 200+ nationwide centres to managing the brand and tone of voice across print and digital assets, including social media and content for the website. This of course also encompasses helping to ensure that all our marketing materials – whether digital or printed – are as accessible as possible. What does accessibility mean to you? To me, accessibility means ensuring that all facilities – whatever they are – are available to everyone, regardless of age, race, disability (or ability) or anything else. These facilities can be both physical and ethereal. So, for example, anyone should be able to use a cinema, restaurant, website, enjoy music or, indeed make use of their local leisure centre regardless of any of the factors outlined previously. Why is inclusive fitness important to Everyone Active? If we here at Everyone Active didn’t believe in inclusive fitness, then our mission to help everyone get active for at least 30 minutes, five times a week wouldn’t mean anything. We also like to see our centres not just as leisure centres for people to use when they wish, but as centres of the community in which they are based as well. This means people come to socialise, they bring their children for swimming lessons, or they come in order to help themselves recuperate from illness or injury. Everyone Active doesn’t just provide facilities to individuals, but a service to entire communities up and down the country. These communities are made up of people of all ages and fitness levels, both disabled and able-bodied people and it’s our responsibility to ensure that, as far as possible, everyone gets to enjoy our centres. Why is diversity and inclusion important to you? Once again, it’s important to me because I believe in Everyone Active’s mission to get more people doing 30 minutes of activity, five times a week and that includes everyone. Regardless of age, fitness ability, race, or whether someone’s disabled, or able-bodied, we all have the right to an active lifestyle and it’s part of my role – one that’s very important to me – to make sure everyone has that opportunity. How has Everyone Active tackled the increase in online activity to make sure they continue to be inclusive? Everyone Active’s digital offering is a vital part of what we bring to the table and it’s important that everything we do online is as accessible as possible. One of the most important ways in which we do this is implementing the Recite Me toolbar. This helps to break down some of the most common barriers to accessibility in the digital space. It does this by translating the content into a number of different languages, enabling the content to be read aloud for blind and sight-impaired users and slightly altering the styling of the website to make it easier for those with learning difficulties to read and use the website. That’s not all, however. Everything – both in digital and print formats – is written in a clear and concise manner to make it as easy to read as possible and all images on the website are tagged with descriptive alt texts to allow the screen reader to describe the picture accurately. We also understand that while people may wish to stay active, they may not be able to get to or could be uncomfortable in our centres. That’s why we also host free workout sessions on our social media pages. These include everything from exhausting Les Mills BODYCOMBAT classes to seated workouts for people who experience mobility issues. Everyone Active also has a digital-only offering called Everyone On Demand, which offers a huge variety of classes that are designed to suit everyone regardless of age, mobility or fitness level. It’s been designed as a 360-degree solution and includes an app that concentrates on mindfulness so our members can concentrate on their mental health, as well as getting active physically. Can you share an example of providing support for someone with additional needs? Everyone Active is dedicated to ensuring all our members get the most out of their time with us – whether that’s in centre or interacting with us via one of our digital platforms. With that in mind, centres in Stratford-upon-Avon have recently introduced the ‘Quiet Hours’ initiative to help support members with autism. Stratford Leisure Centre, Shipston Leisure Centre, Southam Leisure Centre and The Greig Leisure Centre have all implemented this initiative to help make the centres more welcoming to people living with autism. The initiative will introduce dedicated hours of no loud music or loud noise in their gyms in an effort to create a more welcoming, calmer environment for people on the autistic spectrum. But that’s not all that’s going on in Stratford. They’re also running dementia awareness workshops for colleagues to help make them more mindful of members who may be suffering with the condition. The centres are also fitted out with IFI (Inclusive Fitness Initiative)-accredited equipment in the gym to help make fitness more accessible for people with additional needs, while a major 2015 refurbishment of Stratford Leisure centre was done in consultation with Accessible Stratford. This helped ensure it met the needs of the entirety of the local community. What do you hope for the future for activity centres in terms of accessibility? While we always try the best we can, there is always room for improvement. In some of our older centres, we are constrained by physical factors in that structurally we can’t make certain doorways or corridors wider, unfortunately. With every new build, however, and every refurbishment, we are working hard with organisations including the Accessibility Alliance to make sure our centres are accessible is one of the key focuses of any new centre. Looking into the future, we’re always looking for new ways to provide more accessible services for our members. With that in mind, we’re partnering with a company called Synergy Dance. With Everyone Active, Synergy Dance will offer a range of digital dance and Yoga classes designed specifically with those with special needs and disabilities in mind. The company’s passionate and dedicated team ensures no one is left behind, ensuring the benefits of Synergy Dance, such as improved creativity and self-esteem, enhanced coordination, and developed teamwork and leadership skills, are felt by everyone. Workouts and courses are further tailored to suit the needs of children, adults and seniors experiencing long-term health conditions, with exciting classes such as audio dance and Yoga for the blind and visually impaired. This is just one way in which we here at Everyone Active are working to improve the accessible services we offer. We’re always looking to make things better and that, to me, is exciting. We don’t just offer services to a certain strata of society, but we want our sites to be open to everyone and be centres of the community in which they are based and I think with every passing year, we are making progress towards making that a reality.
Our first ‘What Does Accessibility Mean to Me?’ awareness week is well underway, and it has been amazing to hear from so many different people across a variety of industries. Today we are shining a spotlight on the recruitment sector - we caught up with Jade Haase, Head of Marketing at Murray McIntosh to discuss all things accessibility. Launched in 2015, Murray McIntosh is a recruitment agency who specialise in Engineering and Policy, Public Affairs & Comms sectors. They are committed to diversity and inclusion, as part of this commitment they provide Recite Me assistive technology on their website to enable an inclusive online experience. Read our Q&A with Jade below. 1. Who are you? Jade Brar-Haase, Head of Marketing at Murray McIntosh 2. What does accessibility mean to you? In all honesty, if you had asked me before my subsequent research and prior to joining MMA, I would have focussed on issues surrounding physical accessibility. Now that I have started my own learning journey, I’d say that accessibility is about making all opportunities, processes and both physical & virtual spaces readily available/accessible for all. 3. Why is accessibility important for the recruitment sector? Before we start examining working environments and their inclusivity processes, which is obviously of paramount importance, we need to look at the journey of the job seeker and employer in getting there. Firstly, the landscape has changed. As a society, we have become increasingly more conscious of the individuals that make up our local communities and as such we now expect businesses to create processes that cater for all. The recruitment process should be no different. For many job seekers, just knowing that a prospective employer has worked – or is working – to create a fair and accessible recruitment process can make them far more attractive to work for. At Murray McIntosh, the recruitment process is so much more than “finding and placing” candidates, we strategically partner with our clients on a long-term basis to improve their employer brand, hiring processes and D&I policies. Secondly, accessibility is important to all sectors. If we consider the ‘social model’ as a point of reference, you can’t help but become more aware of the societal barriers that have been created. Once identified, you can begin to remove them and/or consider the appropriate solutions to do so. By doing this you will have taken steps in creating an accessible organisation and perhaps an equitable culture that embraces the breadth and depth of our communities. With our clients, in particular, we have seen a cultural shift that has spearheaded a mission to “represent the communities they serve”. Hiring and departmental managers are actively making accessibility, inclusion and diversity part of their recruitment brief to make this mission a reality. Clients want clear, tangible actions to ensure that all candidates can apply and that they will be considered fairly throughout the process. 4. What type of barriers do job seekers/applicants face (online and offline) It is surprising to see just how many companies don’t have the basics of an accessibility bar integrated on their website or careers page at the least. This all-singing all-dancing tool is a really simple way to offer a more accessible online journey for so many people. The next stage is the job description itself. Without knowing it, we are all likely to adopt some bias in our writing style. That doesn’t mean we are intentionally excluding people, it’s just a disadvantage of human nature. We are all different, with diverse experiences behind us, which in turn impacts our style of communication. Investing in an artificial intelligence tool to remove biases such as gender, race, ageism and sexuality is a must for companies that are serious about creating a more inclusive process. As an example, did you know that a job description containing lengthy bullet points is more likely to result in fewer female applications? There is so much research into biased language and its link to human behaviour, that it would be impossible to become an expert overnight, but the need to change is now. So, finding a reputable AI tool that can analyse and correct this communication for you is a no brainer. Ultimately, much of this is opinion based. It’s easy to get siloed into finding the perfect mix of technologies to support each impairment, but many disabled people choose not to use assistive technology because they feel more comfortable using their adapted process for a non-accessible world. 5. How do you think the pandemic has affected organisations’ consideration for online accessibility? At the start of the pandemic, many businesses were essentially forced to create a work from home solution. While the process to finesse those parameters is lengthy, experimental and most likely still ongoing, many organisations found surprising benefits to the new method. Some even reported an increase in productivity rather than the anticipated decline. The unprecedented restrictions placed on businesses resulted in a much-needed evolution of workplace policies and a critical review of the motivations behind them. Many companies have welcomed ‘work from home’ to stay as part of a hybrid working scheme, or in some cases as a permanent move. While working from home isn’t for everybody, it has made employment more accessible for those that were previously unable to travel into a central office location for various reasons. Another benefit for businesses is that they are more open to engaging talent from a larger catchment area, which has increased the number of high-calibre and diverse applicants, boosting productivity exponentially. 6. Can you share an example of providing support for someone with additional needs? Yes, we can, but it probably isn’t the answer you’d expect where we list a host of tools or prescribe an innovative process. As a recent example, we had a candidate that was dyslexic and had ADHD. We didn’t create or adapt the process in any way. The whole point of accessibility is to allow people to experience the same journey as those without impairments. Often it is about creating a platform, a safe and confidential environment, in which candidates are able to talk about their impairments and resulting needs and ensuring that this is something that is reflected Client-side. So, in this example that is exactly what we did. Equipped with a variety of in-house accessibility tools and training, our team were able to work with the client to educate and advise them as to additional considerations for the process. The wish of the candidate was for the interview panel to be aware of their impairments, in the event of any related behaviour, but without the need to address the impairments during the process – thus having the same experience as everybody else. At the time of the interview, both the client and candidate were prepared, relaxed and ready for a typical interview around suitability, skillset and cultural fit. The candidate thrived in the interview and was offered the role. The example shared reflects what many disabled people are looking for in both the recruitment process and in everyday life. Accessibility doesn’t necessarily mean acquiring all the tech and tools possible, it starts with taking the time to treat each person as an individual, understanding their impairment and reacting under the guidance and wishes of the impaired individual.