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Why is web accessibility such a big deal? Because over 1 billion people worldwide are unable to make use of the information on your website if you don’t make accessibility adjustments to meet their needs. Yes, you read that number right. And yes, that’s around 20% of the entire global population. Thursday 20th of May marks the 10th anniversary of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which focuses on getting people to think and learn more about digital access and inclusion, and what it means for their business. Here’s what you need to know… What Does Being Accessible Mean? Over the past few decades, the world has made significant advancements in making the physical world more accessible to people with disabilities. But online accessibility isn’t just about the stereotypical wheelchair-bound disabled user. Websites also need to be accessible to a wide range of hidden disabilities like cognitive and neurological disorders, visual impairments, and language barriers. Being accessible means making reasonable adjustments for the entire range of disabled users so that they can read and use the information on your website. Otherwise, consumers are simply not able to do business with you. Why Isn’t My Website Accessible? Take a moment to think about how much you use the internet. The international average is 145minutes per person per day - just under 2.5 hours. Now imagine not having access to all of those websites and not having the information you need to complete activities like shopping, banking, paying bills, applying for jobs, and finding out information about local services, etc. There are hundreds of specific conditions that create barriers to accessing information online. But broadly speaking, there are four key reasons why users cannot access your website. People Can’t Read It For people with sight loss, colour blindness, and deafblindness, reading web copy can be difficult. The size of the text, the font used, and the colour contrast between text and background are all important factors – especially for users with learning difficulties like dyslexia, dyspraxia, and hyperlexia. People with more severe visual impairments may need to use a screen reader, or even have the content read aloud. People Don’t Understand It All of the copy on your website needs to be clearly written, understandable, and run in a logical order, otherwise people with cognitive and neurological disorders cannot follow the flow of information. You also need to consider the number of website visitors who speak English as a second language and may not be able to comprehend the information without translation assistance. People Can’t Navigate It Whether temporary or permanent, physical disabilities can make accessing websites via a smartphone or tablet extremely difficult, and using equipment like a mouse may be almost impossible. Therefore, it is imperative that your website can be navigated by keyboard-only functions, and that technology like voice readers can be used to allow visitors to search by verbal commands. People Are Scared of It Sounds dramatic, we know. But… what if site visitors have epilepsy or one of several conditions known to cause disorientation and/or confusion? Elements like flashing images, videos, or the overuse of image carousels can be a real danger here. Best case scenario, they become lost and unable to maintain their place on the page, and simply click away. But in the worst case, it could lead to a seizure. So options to change the layout of the page and strip away unwanted graphics for easier and safer reading are required. Best Practices for Website Accessibility The disabled market is the largest minority group in the world, so the benefits of including them should have fairly obvious ties to improved financial success. Essentially, web accessibility is now such an important consideration that you simply cannot afford for your site not to be accessible. Many businesses shy away from making accessibility adjustments as they see them as being too complicated or expensive. But on the contrary, many solutions are simple and easy to execute. Web Design The whole point of having a website is to showcase your products and services to as wide an audience as possible. Follow these steps to make your website easier for everyone to read, focus on, and understand. Use a content management system that supports accessibility. Use headings correctly to structure your content. Give descriptive names to your links. Ensure forms are designed for accessibility. Be mindful of colour use and colour contrasts. Be keyboard-friendly. You can read more about best practices for accessible web design here. Content Errors The most common examples of easy-to-fix accessibility failures include: Low contrast text Missing alt tag text Empty links Missing input labels on forms Empty buttons Missing document language Recent accessibility testing by WebAIM surveyed over 1 million website home pages and found these details were missing way more often than they should be. How to Make Your Website Inclusive One of the quickest, easiest, and most cost-effective ways to make your website inclusive is with assistive technology like the Recite Me toolbar. It’s worth noting that even if your website is accessible, it may not be inclusive. Accessibility compliance alone does not provide users with a fully inclusive experience. True inclusion comes from giving people as many choices as possible so they can customise your site and consume the information in a way that is tailored to their needs. “Accessibility guidelines are there to help us make websites more accessible. But they aren’t the be-all and end-all of accessibility.” Nicola Steenhout, Consultant in Inclusion, Accessibility, and Disability It is in this area of advocating accessibility, but also promoting inclusion at a much higher level, in which Recite Me sits. How Assistive Technology Works When you open a webpage that is equipped with our assistive technology, an accessibility toolbar pops up on the page. This alerts website visitors that additional accessibility options are available and that the site is a safe and welcoming space for them to enter. The Recite Me assistive toolbar promotes inclusivity by allowing those with sight loss, cognitive impairments, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, and varying linguistic needs to access your website in a way that is best suited to them. Functions include: Fully customisable text size, font, and spacing. The ability to change text colour and background colour contrasts. A screen mask to provide colour tinting and block visual clutter. Additional reading aids such as an on-screen ruler and text-only mode. Text-to-speech functions in 35 languages. A real-time translation feature catering to over 100 languages. These functions account for singular adjustments and also more complex scenarios where multiple adjustments are required for ease of use. The software even remembers each user’s preferences, so any page they open is automatically formatted to their preference. By providing an inclusive website journey for those with disabilities, we are improving website experiences for everyone. To find out more you can contact our team or book a free demo, and join the thousands of organisations who already use Recite Me to make the online world a more inclusive place.
In support of Mental Health Awareness Week, The All-Inclusive Podcast sees Ross Linnett joined by Mark Stephens, CEO & Founding Director of Corpwell UK and Smart Recruit Online and Maylis Djikalou, Programme Director at Create Space, to open up the conversation about mental health, personal experiences, and to highlight the support businesses should be providing for employees.
The American Baseball Coaches Association now provides an inclusive online experience to enable coaches worldwide to access information and services barrier-free. As part of a diversity and inclusion strategy, ABCA website visitors are now able to access a wide range of accessibility and language support tools to customise their digital experience in a way that works best for them. ABCA is the primary professional organisation for baseball coaches at an amateur level, with nearly 13,000 members in all 50 states and 33 countries. To provide enhanced support to its members ABCA is supporting over 20% of the population who may encounter barriers online due to having a disability, learning difficulty, visual impairment or if they speak English as a second language. The Recite Me assistive toolbar on the ABCA’s website includes screen reading functionality, multiple reading aids, customisable styling options and an on-demand live translation feature that boasts over 100 languages including 35 texts to speech and styling options. Jon Litchfield, Deputy Executive Director at ABCA, commented, “The ABCA’s goal is to involve as many baseball coaches from as many backgrounds and communities as possible. After seeing the functionality of the Recite Me assistive toolbar, as well as how simple it was to implement on our website, it was a no-brainer to offer these features to our members. “Having more than 13,000 member coaches and understanding that more than 20% of the general population may benefit from this technology, we are extremely happy to make our website experience better for those who will use the accessibility features.” The internet can be an incredibly intimidating place for those with access barriers, and those lacking the tools they need to adequately understand or communicate are at a significant disadvantage. To explore accessibility and language support tools visit ABCA’s website and click the ‘Accessibility’ link at the top of the website.
Providing accessible information online is vital to be able to support a diverse range of people. Mental Health Awareness Week enables YoungMinds and Recite Me to shine a spotlight on the help that is available to young people with their mental health. Recite Me caught up with YoungMinds to ask a few questions regarding mental health services and the importance of providing accessibility information online… What work do you do at Young Minds and what support do you provide to young people? At YoungMinds, we are leading the movement to sure every young person gets the mental health support they need, when they need it, no matter what. Through reassuring tips, advice and real-life stories on our website and social media channels, we give young people tools to look after their mental health. We also provide training courses, a parent’s helpline and resources to empower adults to be the best support they can be to the young people in their lives. Why was it important to Young Minds to provide an inclusive online experience? We all have mental health, and it’s likely that we will all have times in our life when we struggle with how we are feeling and thinking. We know that when a young person is finding things difficult, the advice and information on our website can help them feel valid and less alone – and it’s important to us that all young people are able to access this. Unfortunately, there can be many barriers for young people to access the support they need from mental health services. We want to do all we can to minimise these barriers, and help a young person feel seen, valued, and comforted at a time they are struggling; that’s why it’s so important to us that we provide an inclusive online experience. What do you hope for the future of mental health services? There is a lot of hard work going on across the NHS to improve access to mental health services and in recent years the Government has made ambitious commitments to increase spending on children and young people’s mental health, following years of underfunding. But even before the coronavirus pandemic, referrals to services were rising and too many young people couldn’t get support when they first needed it. We know that the pandemic has exacerbated this crisis, putting a huge strain on the NHS and leading to many young people not getting support early enough to prevent their mental health from deteriorating. We know how vital early support is, and the earlier a young person gets it, the more effective that support will be. This is why we want early support to be available in communities, and for the Government to invest in early intervention and prevention so that young people get help as soon as they need it.
Mental health and physical health are both very important to me. As an athlete, I understand firsthand how physical fitness can have a positive effect on mental wellbeing, and I suppose I've always had a side interest in mental health through increasing and maintaining my own physical health. I’m not too fond of the term mental health in itself though. There’s an assumption that mental health and mental illness is the same thing. But everyone has mental health. It exists all of the time, just in varying states of being – in exactly the same way physical health exists all the time and can go up or down. It’s just that mental health has more of a stigma attached to it, and we only tend to consider it when there is a dip for some reason. That's why it’s so important to maintain our mental health, even when we feel good. What is Mental Health? Mental health includes all aspects of wellbeing, encompassing emotional, psychological, and social factors. It affects how we feel, how we think, and how we act, and has significant impacts on how we handle stress, connect with others, and make decisions. Needless to say, I think this makes ensuring positive mental health a top priority. Lots of things that we can control have an impact on mental health – like our diet, how much sleep we get, our physical fitness, and the other people we interact with. I think there’s been a collective shift towards becoming more aware of mental health issues in the last few years, and slowly people are starting to see mental health in the same way they look at physical health. Personally, I see them as both sides of the same coin. Why is Supporting Mental Health Important in the Workplace? We spend so much of our time at work, so it’s a no-brainer that adopting good practices and supporting mental health within the workplace can have significant impacts on employee well-being. While everyone has their own distinct job role within a business, it’s ultimately the work we do as a team that affects our success. So it’s really important that the team is as strong as possible, and that every team member is supported in every way. It all comes down to treating people as individuals. I like to think that Recite Me is a person-centric organisation where the person comes before the job role. When people feel valued and supported, they naturally perform to the best of their abilities, so the value of being a compassionate organisation works both ways. What Mental Health Support Can Employers Provide? Even though the attitude towards mental health and inclusivity is becoming more accepting, many people still feel the need to hide what they perceive as a weakness or failure, and are therefore reluctant to open up about their mental health at work. This means it’s often difficult to tell when people are struggling, because mental health problems can be more easily hidden than physical ones. To provide a caring environment where staff excel, a “people first” approach is the best way to go. Organisations need to take on more responsibility to be aware on a top-down scale, but also encourage their teams and individual employees to be more aware and genuinely supportive of mental health across the board. Encouraging all-round fitness is another way to boost mental health. Often, people don’t see the interconnectedness of sleep, diet, physical health, and extraneous variables like financial and legal concerns etc. Awareness of this is key so that people can ask for help before it’s too late and they become stressed, depressed, or experience burn-out. Even small things like a few minutes away from their desk can help employees. A while back, we noticed that quite a few of our staff had backaches. So we organised for a yoga teacher to come in every couple of weeks and offer one-on-one stretches and massage. This had a big impact on mental health. But I don’t think it was just the physical relief. Just the flexibility to take a little time out of their working day had a positive effect too. How Does Accessibility Play a Part? I see so many synergies between mental health and accessibility, diversity, and inclusion. First and foremost, it’s just the right thing to do. But accessibility makes a huge difference to mental health in general, as people are normally happier when they feel included. Likewise, when people feel excluded or disenfranchised, they tend to have more negative feelings. Inclusivity is at the core of accessibility. It’s about allowing a person to matter, regardless of any disadvantages or disabilities. Whether an individual is dyslexic, has a visual impairment, or speaks English as a second language, they don’t feel as alienated when society makes adjustments for them. This has a positive effect on the mental health of people who could otherwise have felt excluded because of their disabilities. Again, it goes back to treating people as individuals and not attaching labels to problems. The premise of our accessibility software and the benefits of mental health awareness are the same. It’s about creating a positive attitude towards inclusion, rather than seeing a person’s problems as something that needs to be fixed. As Alan Weiss once famously said, “Ask your customers to be part of the solution, and don’t view them as part of the problem.” Accessibility and Mental Health in the Corporate World It’s great to see that more and more businesses are viewing both accessibility and mental health awareness as a competitive advantage. And there absolutely is a commercial benefit. For example, we have been working closely with Corpwell UK lately. Focusing on corporate wellness, the Corpwell team provides a directory of business support and connects organisations that promote wellbeing and mental health in the workplace with experts and suppliers within their industry. Mark Stevens, founder and CEO at Corpwell UK, suggested that as many as 1 in 3 employees may suffer from mental health issues that affect their work. Equate this to financial terms, and that’s anything up to 45billion GBP that UK businesses lose every year in absenteeism – and that doesn’t even account for the drop in productiveness caused by lack of presenteeism before the sick leave takes place. Adding the Recite Me toolbar to their website is just one of the ways that Corpwell supports its clients and employees. By providing barrier-free access to information, potential negative mental health effects caused by exclusion are avoided. What Should People Do if They’re Struggling with Mental Health? It’s difficult, both because of the stigma attached to mental health and because nobody likes to appear vulnerable. But the key is to reach out. Everybody in the world has needed help at some point in their life, so there is no need to feel bad asking for it. With assistance from friends, colleagues, and family members, it’s easier to be systematic about the origins of an issue, and move positively to eliminate, correct, or reduce the cause. I’m not a psychologist, but I always find concentrating on what is going good in your life always helps. Often when we are in a low mental state we tend to focus on what's wrong, but if we take a little bit of time to just appreciate what is right, it can have a transformative effect. Hopes for the Future of Mental Health Services As a society, it’s to our benefit that everyone achieves good mental health. So I’d like to see schools, businesses, and communities being more consciously aware of mental health issues all year round, not just in Mental Health Awareness Week. That said, having an awareness week does give people the chance to talk about any aspect of mental health that they want to, and that can only be a positive thing. Helping people to stay in a good place is a way better alternative than helping them out of a bad place. So in the future, I hope to see the attitude towards mental health transform into a prevention rather than cure way of thinking. With earlier intervention, we could help people keep their mental state in a positive position, which I believe is a much stronger strategy than waiting until people hit rock bottom and treating the problem with anti-depressant pills etc. I’d also love to see more mental health officer roles within businesses. If we can implement good practices and provide support to our staff before small problems become big ones, the whole organisation will be happier and healthier.
Great customer service prevents business failure. Fact. These days, businesses are relying more and more on providing online options where customers can reach out for help. According to SuperOffice, 70% of customers now expect company websites to include a self-service application, which usually comes in the form of an FAQ section, discussion forum, or chatbot. But just because this service is available, it doesn’t mean it’s right for, or accessible to, every customer. Last week our CEO, Ross Linnett, sat down for a webinar chat with Caroline Wells, founder and CEO of Different Petal. Caroline is an expert on customer service and accessibility, serves on many national advisory boards and panels, and in 2020 was awarded Advisor of the Year by the National Centre for Diversity. Together, they discussed all things customer service, and how website accessibility factors can be a stumbling block for companies looking to provide exceptional experiences online. Here’s a summary of what they covered and some important points for businesses to consider… What Do We Mean by Online Customer Service? What industry you are in and how your organisation operates will dictate whether the most crucial aspects of customer service occur before, during, or after the provision of services. But one thing that remains constant is the need for customers to have access to support, assistance, and advice when they need it, and in a way that suits their needs. When it comes down to it, consumers want two things: Answers to their questions and solutions to their problems as quickly as possible. To be treated fairly and have the same experience as everyone else. So when we talk about online customer service, we don’t just mean having the right staff available to provide resolutions (although, of course, that is important). We mean ensuring the provision of online customer service portals that account for a wide range of users and their needs and preferences. Customer Effort Scores Reducing the effort needed by the customer is key to improving customer service and ensuring loyalty and growth. Yet a study by The Northridge Group determined that: 44% of consumers say they think companies make it hard to contact them. 55% of customers reported using two or more communications channels before their issue was resolved. Despite low customer effort being a driving factor, the number of businesses measuring customer effort scores was only 29% in 2020. So where are businesses tripping up? Bad customer service scores come from treating the entire customer base as one entity, rather than a range of individuals with different access requirements. What Barriers Do People Face? Whether people can access the information they need online depends on whether they can see, understand, and navigate through all of the information a website provides. There are several reasons that customers may struggle, including: Visual impairments such as poor eyesight, deafblindness, and colour blindness. Learning difficulties like dyslexia, hyperlexia, and dyspraxia. Neurodevelopment and neurological conditions like ADHD, autism, and epilepsy. Mobility and physical impairments. Speaking/reading English as a second language. Any one of these factors can make information on a website hard to read, focus on, understand, and navigate. What Are the Real-World Repercussions of Access Barriers? As a dyslexic himself, our CEO Ross is all too familiar with the pitfalls of not having the tools he needs to communicate with businesses online. “If a website doesn’t have the accessibility adjustments that work for me, it feels like a huge uphill struggle and I often end up not doing things.” Ross Linnet, CEO, Recite Me One particular example Ross highlighted was how he’d missed out on opportunities to save money on his electricity bills at home because switching suppliers online was not possible without significant frustration and hassle. All because the information online is not presented in a dyslexia-friendly way. This is just one example, but when you think about the number of tasks we conduct online, you can begin to gain an appreciation of the scale of inequity. Inaccessible websites and apps make it difficult or impossible for users with access needs to: Manage finances – This includes many activities that are considered vital, including transferring funds, trading stocks and shares, paying bills, managing savings and pension plans, or renewing expiring credit and debit cards. Shop – Whether it’s doing the weekly grocery shopping, renewing household goods, or buying clothes, toiletries, and other everyday items, inclusive websites are essential to facilitate purchases. Apply for jobs – Registering with a recruitment agency can feel like an insurmountable challenge when websites are not accessible, and completing online applications forms is often almost impossible. Learn – Online learning portals that are not inclusive mean those facing online barriers cannot take part or risk falling behind in their studies. How Can Organisations Support People Online? Businesses need to provide clear signals about how they want their customers to communicate with them. However, there still needs to be flexibility in the range of channels available, and all of those channels need to be accessible to everyone. The key lies in treating each customer as an individual. Historically, companies have shied away from accessibility compliance, seeing it as either too complicated or too expensive. It needn’t be a case of spending thousands of pounds on single customers though. As Caroline points out, if you design something well, it works for everyone. “The flexibility needs to be there for customers to communicate in their preferred way. Businesses should be empowering customers by giving them choice, rather than making them ask for alternatives or work harder to get responses. “ Caroline Wells, CEO, Different Petal Tools like the Recite Me assistive toolbar help businesses to organationalize inclusion by providing an all-in-one resource that allows individuals to change the way a website looks based on their individual preferences. You can view a demonstration of our toolbar here. The Benefits of Inclusion Being inclusive isn’t just the right thing to do, it comes with many benefits to businesses that put in the effort: Customer retention - It costs anything from 5 to 25 times as much to attract a new customer than keep a current one, and 51% of customers say they wouldn’t do business with a company again after just one negative experience. New customers - 64% of consumers find customer experience more important than price, and 59% would try a new company to receive better customer service. Recommendations and endorsements - 69% of customers would recommend a company to others after a good customer service experience. This percentage increases in the case of poor experiences. In the immortal words of Warren Buffet, “It can take 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it”. Increased Profits - 70% of consumers said they spend more money with companies that deliver great service, and 84% of organisations actively working towards better customer service reported increased revenue. Sources: HelpScout and Groove Final Notes on Accessibility Support You may be reading this thinking your business is already inclusive. After all, most companies - and certainly the majority of big brands - have accessibility statements on their website. But what does that statement really mean? Is it there for compliance, out of a genuine desire to help, or simply to pay lip service to the inclusion movement? If you don’t know the answer to that question as a business, it’s not likely to help your customers. Not least because ‘accessibility’ isn’t a term people generally search for on websites, or the fact that accessibility statements are normally located in a difficult place to find on most websites. This is probably the best way to sum up our advice when it comes to improving customer service through inclusion. We’re happy to see that the mentality towards online accessibility is changing, and every year more businesses are seeing inclusion as a positive change rather than something they have to do simply to check the box. But there’s still a way to go before we achieve our goal of achieving inclusion for all. For further guidance on providing a better online service for your customers or on using accessibility software to promote inclusion, feel free to contact Caroline or the Recite Me team directly.
Recite Me Founder and CEO Ross Linnett sits down with Caroline Wells, Director of Different Petal Consulting to discuss the importance of accessible online customer service and the barrier people may face.
Dyslexia is a condition that impacts at least 10-15% of the population. If you, your family or close friends haven’t been touched by someone with dyslexia it may be easy to underestimate how widespread it is. Dyslexia impacts people in different ways. So, symptoms might not look the same from one person to another. Primarily dyslexia affects skills involved in the accurate understanding, reading, spelling and writing of words. We caught up with Sophie, a university student, to find out about her experience with dyslexia and how assistive technology is helping her during her studies. What university do you go to, and what do you study? My name is Sophie, and I am currently in my first year of Primary Teaching at the University of Roehampton. I love my course; it is incredibly rewarding, and I have learned so much already. When were you diagnosed with dyslexia? I was diagnosed with dyslexia not long after starting university. At first, I had mixed feelings about being diagnosed considerably later than others. However, as I began to recognise my strengths and learn more about the support I could receive, I accepted my unique abilities and focused on creating a toolkit to allow me to achieve my goals. What’s it like to have dyslexia? I often describe dyslexia as my creative lens to the world. My ‘out of the box’ thinking is a strength. On the days where my concentration is poor, and I cannot seem to get the words out, I have learned to look at this with a flexible mindset and find a way of working with what I can do rather than with what I can’t. How has dyslexia affected you in your academic studies? With my studies in mind, I find that it takes me considerably longer to complete reading and writing tasks. I often get apprehensive when I see a lot of text on a page and have developed a range of problem-solving skills that help me tackle the challenges I face. How did you find out about assistive technology? To start with I did not know much about assistive technology. I came across some information on the internet when I was looking for support after struggling with managing my academic workload and I was rapidly losing belief in myself. Talking to someone who completely understood dyslexia opened doors of opportunities which helped my mindset and gave me the courage to push forward. How does assistive technology help your studies? Assistive technology has opened a positive pathway for me to work through the challenges I have by acknowledging my strengths and learning to accept the support as a stepping stone to success. What features of assistive technology help you the most? There are many benefits to assistive technology, and I am so grateful to have it. The toolbar is user-friendly and has been an asset to my academic progress. I can use the screen overlay to adjust the page to a colour that helps me to read with ease and enables me to study for longer. The screen mask allows me to follow the reading with a tinted screen around the text I am focusing on which prevents me from losing track of what I am reading. The option to have the text read to me has made reading expectations manageable and I complete them on time and at my pace. The text extractor tool is great for consolidating the key points from reading and I can convert it to an audio file if I want to listen again. Is there anything else you would like to add? Having Dyslexia is not something that should hold anyone back. If you find yourself feeling stuck in the daily struggle, I encourage you to look into assistive technology – you will not regret it! Find Out More If you would like to learn more about supporting your students with dyslexia-friendly assistive software, please feel free to contact our team for more information or book a demonstration of our toolbar.
Dunelm Careers provides a digitally inclusive employment journey with the support of accessibility and language tools online. Dunelm is the UK’s number one homeware retailer, that provides over 50,000 products to over 5 million visitors online and in-store a week. To fulfil Dunelm’s commitment to value each customer and employee, building helpful and committed relationships, Dunelm Careers has implemented Recite Me assistive technology online to provide equal opportunity to Dunelm job vacancies. 14.1 million people in the UK have a disability that prevents ease of access to our digital world. With the introduction of assistive technology on the Dunelm Careers website those who are visually impaired, neurodiverse, or who speak English as a second language can apply and search for job opportunities barrier-free. Paul Jenkins, at Dunelm Careers, commented, “Consideration to an inclusive recruitment process was delivered through removing barriers to ensure opportunities are fully accessible to all. “Recite Me was engaged to provide a complete web-accessible site that could be customised for users’ needs to engage and interact with the Dunelm brand and for Dunelm to reach a wider audience.” The accessibility and language toolbar on the Dunelm Careers website provides online visitors with a customisable experience. Features include screen reading functionality, multiple reading aids, an on-demand live translation feature that boasts over 100 languages and 35 texts to speech and styling options. Over the past 12 months, Dunelm has supported 2,449 unique users online to explore and apply for jobs barrier-free. Toolbar data shows that: On average users viewed 4.4 pages on the Dunelm careers website, the average internet journey depth s 2.8 pages The most popular feature is the screen reader, 529 translations have been made to Polish, Chinese, Spanish and Panjabi. Reading aids were used 643 times, and 1,783 styling changes were made with 25 people changing the font colour to yellow and 38 people changing the background to black. Diversity and inclusion strategies are at the forefront of many organisations in 2021, to ensure equal opportunities, a diverse talent pool, and closure of the disability employment gap. To access Recite Me unique and supportive features on Dunelm Careers website click ‘Accessibility Tools’ at the top of their website. Recite Me is quick and easy to implement on your website. Join the thousands of recruitment businesses that have created a diverse and inclusive talent pool. For more information go to Recite Me or contact a member of our team.
In 2020, global online shopping sales reached over $4.28trillion, demonstrating a significant rise from previous years. In line with this, the volume of e-commerce outlets also rose sharply. On Shopify alone, the number of new stores increased by 62% in just one 6-week period during March and April in 2020. Normally consumers have a choice of whether to shop online with a retailer or visit a physical store. But in the last year or so, that element of choice has been largely removed. So what does this mean for retailers? How do they succeed in the competitive online market? How do they stand out among new competitors? And how do high street sellers safeguard their market share in the transition to making more online sales? Web accessibility can be a big factor in helping e-commerce companies gain a competitive edge. Evolving E-Commerce Behaviors The restriction of access to retail shops during the COVID-19 pandemic pushed more shoppers online. E-commerce spending jumped from 15.8% in 2019 to 21.3% in 2020, and is expected to rise to over 27% in 2021. But even before COVID, retailers were already seeing a significant shift from in-store to online spending. This can be contributed to a number of factors including: The increase in smartphone mobile shopping Social media influences like Facebook and Instagram shopping New technology The changing buyer preferences of Millennials to Gen Z’s. These changing market trends have been a driving factor behind the rapid growth of the e-commerce industry in recent years. But there’s a problem…. Just because something is digital, doesn’t mean that it’s accessible. So to be successful, e-commerce operators need to ensure that their websites are optimised for user experience. This means taking account of all users, including those with disabilities and accessibility barriers. “Too many website projects suffer from strategies that don’t put accessibility at the core and therefore fail to meet some of the most basic of accessibility guidelines and requirements.” Dean Appleton-Claydon, Web Developer & Entrepreneur The Strength of the Purple Pound The Purple Pound is the term used to describe the spending power of those with disabilities. There is a wide range of internet users who face access barriers to online shopping sites. This includes those who struggle with: Vision problems Physical disabilities Learning difficulties Cognitive or neurological disorders Language and literacy issues Approximately 20% of people in the UK and 25% of people in the USA sit in the disability market. This equates to spending power of £24.8 billion in the UK alone, while in the USA the total disposable income of the disabled market sits at $490 billion. The big takeaway here is that if your website is not accessible, you are excluding a vast number of potential customers and missing out on significant revenue opportunities. The Perils of the Click Away Pound Click-Away Pound is a research survey that analyses the online shopping habits and experiences of people with disabilities. Their latest survey demonstrated that: 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. These statistics show how important it is for e-commerce sites to provide digital accessibility for all on their websites and apps. Web Accessibility is the Smart Thing to Do It’s not all about revenue though. From improving brand reputation to avoiding legal complications, the benefits of making your e-commerce site accessible are widely documented: Forbes magazine reports that 52% of all adult consumers consider a company’s values when making a purchase online. Many customers, and Millennials to Gen Z’s in particular, favour brands that care about helping others. Becoming inclusive sets you apart from your competition. Demonstrating inclusive policies helps you become an employer of choice. It is expected by law that businesses do not treat those with disabilities less favourably. Web Accessibility is the Right Thing to Do All of these business bolstering reasons aside, ensuring your products and services are available to everyone is simply the right thing to do. “The one argument for accessibility that doesn’t get made nearly often enough is how extraordinarily better it makes some people’s lives. How many opportunities do we have to dramatically improve people’s lives just by doing our job a little better?” Steve Krug, Computer Programmer and Web Usability Expert How to Make E-Commerce Stores Inclusive Most businesses avoid web accessibility and inclusion factors, dismissing them as too complicated or too costly. But that needn’t be the case. Here are our top three strategies for making your e-commerce store more inclusive. 1. Adapt Your Website Build Making websites more accessible is not rocket science these days. Most reliable developers are well aware of accessibility factors, as they are becoming more and more prevalent in Google ranking algorithms. The first steps are to ensure that your website: Uses a content management system that supports accessibility Uses headings correctly to structure your content Includes alt text for all images Gives descriptive names to your links Is mindful of colour use and colour contrasts Ensures forms are designed for accessibility Is keyboard friendly 2. Comply with Accessibility Legislation & Guidelines The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide a breakdown of accessibility factors and classify compliance into various levels. For e-commerce stores to meet minimum requirements for accessibility, it is recommended that websites should be aiming for WCAG 2.1 at an AA level. There are also legal considerations. The laws that apply to your business will depend on where your company is based, but examples include: The Equality Act of 2010 (UK) The European Accessibility Act (Europe) The Americans with Disabilities Act (USA) 3. Use Assistive Technology Software solutions like the Recite Me assistive toolbar promote inclusivity by allowing those with sight loss, cognitive impairments, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, and varying linguistic needs to access your website in the way that is best suited to them. Toolbar functions include: Fully customisable text size, font, and spacing. The ability to change text colour and background colour contrasts. A screen mask to provide colour tinting and block visual clutter. Additional reading aids such as an on-screen ruler and text-only mode. Text-to-speech functions in 35 languages. A real-time translation feature catering to over 100 languages. We already work with several businesses in the e-commerce sector, including Promo Direct, Curve Theatre, Awin, Rugby League World Cup ticket store, and Watford FC’s Hornets Shop. "We believe that the internet should be available and accessible to everyone. At Promo Direct are committed to delivering a website that is accessible to a wide range of audiences, regardless of their ability and circumstance." Dave Sarro, CEO of Promo Direct A Case Study: Watford FC Hornets Shop Having the Recite Me toolbar available to fans shopping for Watford FC merchandise made a huge difference. Over a 12 month period: 661 unique users clicked to open our toolbar 2,382 pages were viewed on the Hornet Shop website using Recite Me On average users viewed 3.6 pages per session, whereas the average website journey is only 2.8 pages. "The Recite accessibility tool has transformed the way we can help customers to buy from us and also get all of the club's updates and information we provide. Recite has been invaluable in helping us achieve this." Mat Robinson, Head of Retail, Watford FC Learn More About Becoming Inclusive Want to learn more about our web accessibility tools and boost the success of your e-commerce business? Contact our team or book a live demonstration today, and join the thousands of other organisations who are already enjoying the benefits of a more accessible website.
As plans are put in place to reopen the country from lockdown, many of us have turned to the digital world to search and book tickets for upcoming events. This is not as simple for those with disabilities and neurodiverse conditions who often face online barriers that prevent access to events information and bookings. We caught up with Ross Dempsey, Digital Marketing Manager at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), to dive into how online assistive technology is playing a big part in supporting a diverse range of people to explore events and pre-book tickets online. The SEC Centre is situated in the heart of Glasgow, Scotland’s cultural and commercial capital, and is one of the UK’s largest integrated spaces, purpose-built for exhibitions, conferences, and live entertainment. The SEC is committed to making an entire experience for customers enjoyable and accessible with the introduction of Recite Me assistive technology on their website, in which website users can customise their online experience to suit their own needs. Ross Dempsey tells us more… How has Recite Me played a part in your digital plans ahead of reopening? SEC currently holds the ‘Attitude is Everything’ Gold Award and we are committed to continually improving venues to maintain this gold accessibility level. The Scottish Event Campus’s mission is to make our venues not only as accessible as possible physically but online too. Ahead of reopening, Recite Me allows us to offer online accessibility tools to our customers to enable an easy online booking experience for those who face online barriers. How do you think Recite Me will benefit your company ahead of reopening? The Recite Me accessibility toolbar will support all SEC website visitors to explore events and find out information about the venues before visiting. Assistive technology will support people with a wide range of disabilities, learning difficulties, or people who speak English as a second language. The assistive toolbar allows everyone to customise the SEC and SSE Hydro websites in a way that works best for them to understand and read website content easily. If more events companies begin to use Recite Me, how do you think this will impact the events sector as a whole? The implementation of accessibility tools on events websites is an opportunity to provide an inclusive and diverse experience for all customers. We are providing accessibility tools to visitors from around the world to find the information they need. Why is it important to you and your company to provide an inclusive experience online? We are committed to making a visit to the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) an enjoyable experience for everyone and that includes using our websites. We recently launched the ability for users to purchase accessible tickets to our events online and once we discovered Recite Me, we felt it was a great addition to improve the functionality of our websites. We were very impressed with the Recite Me software and as well as accessibility tools, the language switcher allows our conference visitors from around the world to find the information they need. For more information on how you can provide an inclusive online experience, go to the Recite Me website or contact a member of our team.
Today marks the annual celebration of World Health Day. This year we’re reflecting on the 2021 theme of building a fairer and healthier world for everyone, as part of the World Health Organisations year-long campaign to eliminate health inequities. 2020 was a year we will never forget. COVID-19 highlighted the inequalities between us and revealed that some people can live healthier lives with better access to health services than others, entirely due to the conditions in which they are born, concerning age, gender, disability, and race. The COVID-19 pandemic has undercut recent health gains and amplified health inequalities. This is immoral and avoidable, provided we make efforts to ensure people can access quality health services when and where they need them. Assistive technology enables people to access vital health resources, information, and advice regardless of their race, religion, gender, disability, or social condition, enabling people to live independent and healthy lives. Healthcare is a Right Not a Privilege One billion people around the world live with some form of disability, and often encounter obstacles online when searching for healthcare services and COVID-19 guidance. The World Health Organisation estimates that only 10% of people have access to the assistive technology they need. “The Enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.” World Health Organization Breaking Down Health Inequities with Recite Me Digital Accessibility Tools Recite Me works with health organisations around the world to provide accessible technology on websites. Our accessibility toolbar enables everyone worldwide to access vital health resources and information online. Our digitally inclusive toolbar offers features such as translation, screen reader, and styling options. This includes alterations to the size, font, and colour. These features support a diverse range of individuals who are most vulnerable to access barriers: Decreased vision Literacy Learning difficulties Physical disabilities Attention disorders Language/linguistic problems Individuals with these issues often face barriers when using websites to access healthcare information, as they may not be able to read onscreen information, use a mouse or focus on content without distractions. Welcoming people with varied disabilities and access needs are important to eliminating health inequities worldwide. Healthcare Diversity & Inclusion This year, health organisations and charities have joined the Recite Me mission of ‘Accessibility for All’ by providing online assistive technology to website visitors. This is important to us especially during a global pandemic where many people may feel isolated and struggle to gain access to information and services. We are proud to work with a range of healthcare organisations and charities to support their journey to becoming digitally inclusive, building a fairer and healthier world. Our Clients: “We know the information on our website needs to be available in different formats and languages to reach our diverse audiences, so we worked hard to find a solution that will make information we publish online more accessible.” Rebecca Fogarty, Engagement and Collaboration Manager at NHS Public Health Wales “We have found Recite Me to be an important feature added to our websites. It has made it easier for people with different accessibility and translation needs to tell us about their health and care experiences online using our Feedback Centre, which means that we can continue to share the issues that matter to the diverse population of Cheshire.” George Gibson, Communications and Research Officer, Healthwatch Cheshire CIC Toolbar data Over the past 12 months Recite Me has seen over 54,000 people use assistive technology to view 194,974 pages barrier-free, across NHS and health client websites. When visiting our client websites visitors are viewing on average 3.58 pages per session. This is higher than the internet average of 2.8 pages, showing a better user experience when using the support available to aid their journey online. As part of the options and tools available with the Recite Me toolbar translation plays a vital role to support people who speak English as a second language. Over 72,000 translate were made in the past 12 months on NHS websites with the most popular languages being Afrikaans, Bengali, Bulgarian, Italian and Tagalog. “We want to provide an inclusive online experience, where everyone can customise content to suit their needs. Organisations like NHS Wales who have a diverse range of website users can now offer healthcare information more effectively to all users, this is particularly crucial in current circumstances for COVID-19 advice and services.” Ross Linnett, Recite Me Founder and CEO A Digitally Accessible Healthcare Service Recite Me is a cloud-based assistive toolbar solution that bridges the gap between accessibility and usability, creating a more inclusive online experience. This web accessibility and language support help over 2 million website visitors every year to customise a site in a way that works best for them. There is no better time than on World Health Day for global health organisations to provide online accessibility tools, to ensure a fairer and healthier world with barrier-free healthcare information and services. We also want to take today to thank the amazing health workers worldwide, for their incredible work over this past year. If you would like to join the thousands of organisations that now provide accessibility tools on their sites to support a diverse range of individuals, please contact our team or book a demo. We would love to see your support on our social pages for World Health Day, join us in supporting the movement.
Following a roundtable discussion on diversity and inclusion and the effects COVID-19 has had on people with disabilities and neurodiverse conditions, we caught back up with Susan Murphy, CEO of Sue Sanford Specialist Coach, to dive a little deeper into Sue’s personal experiences and the effects she is seeing first-hand in the educational sector. My name is Sue Murphy. I am an experienced coach, often working with clients who have one or more neurodiverse conditions and I’m dyspraxic myself. Finding this out at 62 was a revelation and made a huge difference to the way I think and work. I hope it’s made me a better coach. I’m also a proud grandma to 4 wonderful grandchildren, all in primary school. They and their parents have had to cope with the disruption of their school education for a year. They all did really well, yet It hasn’t been easy for any of them. Three things in the last couple of weeks have made me think particularly about how lockdown has affected learning and wellbeing for neurodiverse children and young people; Firstly, a recent online meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Dyspraxia, which heard from Dr Sally Payne and Sophie Kayani about how dyspraxic learners in school have been affected by home learning through multiple lockdowns, based on the findings of a survey of their parents and carers. I came out of this discussion with a sense I commonly get that. What was clear was that no one size or set of measures fits any group and certainly not dyspraxic youngsters. Some students expected to do well in end-of-term exams learning in school were struggling with using unfamiliar technology and lack of structure. Assessing them against their online assignments submitted during lockdown will not give an accurate picture of how well that child would have done. For other students, being away from the distraction of the classroom and being able to focus on their own time working online-enabled them to thrive. Some of these students will struggle to go back to school and will lose the precious online resources and teaching they’ve had for a short while because schools can’t provide that level of support for an individual child. The phrase “maverick learners" is used to describe students who often don’t do particularly well during term time and continuous assessment yet achieve better than expected results in exams. This is a familiar picture to me and other neurodiverse adults who need the pressure of a meaningful black and white deadline with real consequences to work at our best. In the same week, I joined the campaign to end pen licences in primary schools. A primary school student “earns” a pen licence when their teachers decide their handwriting with a pencil is at a good enough level of neatness and accuracy. The child is now allowed to use a pen because they have mastered the cursive script. How many adults reading this handwrite regularly? If you do how often have you used cursive script since leaving school? Many children with neurodiverse conditions such as dyspraxia, dyslexia or other conditions (including hypermobility) are affected with the skills needed to shape letters and use handwriting to communicate are needlessly demotivated and humiliated by this practice. Yet an adult (or post 16 students) with a similar impairment would not be expected to write by hand. They would use a keyboard and maybe make use of speech to text software (which is now provided as a matter of routine in Microsoft software amongst other Then, in the same week, I received the summary of 2020 accessibility trends in education from Recite Me showing a huge spike in toolbar usage as lockdown kicked in and people switched to online earning. Toolbar launches enabled over 3.7 million educational web pages to be viewed. This flexibility and accessibility will have been a huge help to the students able to access it at a time when the structure of their further and higher education was blown apart by COVID. What a contrast with the experiences of children in the primary sector. My question now is: When are we going to stop expecting children with diverse needs and learning styles to use outdated technology, ie a pen, and study in environments designed for the convenience of mass teaching which stress and distract them? in order to learn, reflect and be able to communicate their learning when we wouldn’t do that to an adult. When are we going to change things systemically in education so that they can learn and express their ideas in ways that are natural to them, using the fabulous technology now available and so commonly used by their older peers? NB. I identify myself as Dyspraxic, rather someone “with dyspraxia”, so this is the language I have used here to describe myself and others. I know others will prefer to refer to themselves /their child as a person “with dyspraxia”, not dyspraxic and their preferences should be observed.