News & Media
To celebrate International Women's Day on Sunday 8 March, we caught up with two vital members of the UK team. Together Toni Rayner and Alison Wilson have 12-years’ experience working at Recite Me helping drive the business forward from start-up, through acceleration growth and beyond. Toni Rayner, Operations Manager (main picture, left) Toni started out her working life with the intention of a career in the travel and tourism industry but went on to successfully obtain a degree in Business and Marketing. She started her working life alongside Caroline Theobald CBE who introduced her to the world of Business Enterprise. “I was so grateful to have that kind of mentor when I was first starting out, it was worth its weight in gold!” From this Toni spring boarded on to the Difference Engine programme helping start-up businesses gain investment. That was where she met Ross Linnett and was introduced to the world of web accessibility. Toni Started her online accessibility journey with Recite Me in 2011 and she has never looked back since. Toni has grown and helped craft the business with her role as Operations Manager and Executive Assistant to CEO Ross. Her main roles and responsibilities include the day to day operations of the business, providing support to senior management, project management, and finance. Toni commented, “Starting out in 2011 as an administrator and growing with the business to become operations manager overseeing the day to day business activities and being Executive Assistant to Director Ross Linnett is something, I am very proud of. Along the way, I have been lucky enough to work with an amazing team and watch Recite Me grow from a team of 5 to a multi-national company.” Alison Wilson, Business Support Manager (main picture, Right) The first 20 years of Alison’s working career was in manufacturing at a global Japanese excavator manufacturer, Komatsu UK. Starting off as a YTS in the Production Control department, Alison eventually ended up as Head Scheduler for the full manufacturing process, along with Capacity Planning to ensure that Komatsu UK was staffed accordingly to meet operational requirements. For the last 3 years of her time at Komatsu Alison moved into a marketing role. This was a financial incentive marketing department with the ultimate aim to increase its market share strategically in various countries. One of Alison’s roles in marketing was to oversee large distributor events at the plant. Skills learned such as planning, forecasting, costing, resourcing all came in handy when organising such big scale events. This event experience was a foundation for her next career stint working for events companies, at the same time working with software companies on an admin basis, implementing and improving day to day processes. Alison commented on her 20 years at Komatsu, “My key achievement when working at Komatsu has to be bringing 650 people from 33 countries to the Komatsu plant over 5 days! That totally tested my planning skills along with my ability to actually deliver the event.” Alison started working at Recite Me 3 years ago with a wealth of knowledge to support the business. Recite Me was in an early growth phase, which was ready for detailed processes and long-term strategic planning, perfect for Alison to hit the ground running. “At Recite Me I was able to develop my own role and soon found there were areas within the business I could step in and make a positive impact. Be that taking the load off others, doing tasks that just hadn't been done before but were needed, introduce planning and data gathering.” As the business continues to grow, Alison will be passing on her latest project account management, to a new member of staff which has been organised and processed to be efficient and effective to support business growth. “I am looking forward to be moving on to other areas of the business that requires review and potential change as the business grows even bigger. I find this very exciting, challenging and a little scary! But that's what drives me.”
Today is World Book Day. Around the country, thousands of children will be duly dressed as characters from their favourite books by day, and at night eagerly awaiting their bedtime story, or be quietly reading to themselves. But how accessible are books for people with disabilities and how can assistive technology help? In truth, the way we read is changing. E-books and readers have been part of our reading landscape for some time now, and have the potential to be more accessible than the traditional book. Device functions such as reading aloud and being able to change the size and font of the text can make a big difference to whether someone is able to access the material. Even audiobooks are making a comeback, with websites offering subscriptions and access to the latest best sellers. These all hold the potential to be more accessible, for someone with a visual impairment for example, where Braille books often offer a much narrower selection and can be more costly. The content we are reading has changed too. It’s not just books we want to read but news, magazine articles, social media posts and stories, sports results and more. There is so much out there to consume, and people are doing it in different ways. Technology like our assistive toolbar enables the reader to customise websites so they can access the information, or words in the way they need to. The good news is that more and more websites are taking this up - enabling a much wider group of people to use their site; although it’s not quite commonplace yet - as we would like to see. This year, World Book Day is calling on readers of all ages to ‘share a million stories’ by reading aloud or listening to a story for at least ten minutes a day with friends or family. A report, by the National Literacy Trust released ahead of the day, shows that last year only a quarter of children read each day. This means that under-eighteens are reading less today than any other generation. There are many reasons why a child might not like to read, and some certainly encounter more challenges than others. However, World Book Day chief executive Cassie Chadderton believes that reading together in this way can turn a reluctant reader into a child who reads for pleasure. With so much variety available to us, we would also encourage people to think about how they can make stories of all kinds accessible so everyone can enjoy them. 1000’s of organisations already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible for online visitors. To find out more or to book a demo please contact the team.
Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) was founded in 1978 and, to date, has provided legal advocacy services to more than 50,000 clients with disabilities at no cost. Their mission is to protect the rights of Tennesseans with disabilities. DRT has a vision for all Tennesseans with disabilities to have freedom from harm, freedom from discrimination, and freedom to participate in the community.
Clear Company collaborative webinar Are you a D&I professional working to remove barriers to diversity in Recruitment? Are you a D&I professional working to remove barriers to diversity in Recruitment and Talent Management? This collaborative webinar with Gareth Headley, the Clear Company and Martin Robertson, Recite Me provides expert insight into the business case for diversity and the benefits of removing barriers from all aspects of the employee lifecycle. We explore the opportunities created by the latest in HR technology and how it can play a fundamental role in your Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. Who Should Attend This webinar? D&I professionals HR business partners and managers HR directors Senior leaders Recruitment Professionals This webinar is free to attend please click the following link to sign up > https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/4299796756202678539
The results of the newly-released Click-Away Pound 2019 survey show that UK retailers lose out on £17 billion by ignoring the online needs of shoppers with disabilities. Click-Away Pound is a research survey conducted by Freeney Williams designed to explore the online shopping experience of people with disabilities in the UK and the cost to business of ignoring shoppers who are disabled. Key Survey Results Online spending power of people with access needs in the UK is £24.8 billion The number of internet users with a disability has passed 10 million 70% of people with access needs will click away from an inaccessible The click-away pound in the UK in 2019 now stands at £17.1 billion 75% of users with access needs feel accessibility is more important than the price 83% of users with access needs limit their shopping to sites they know are barrier-free Only 8% of users with access needs contacted the site owner about barriers they experience To accommodate people with differing abilities your website must be accessible. Making your website accessible allows people with their own supporting technology to use your website effectively or makes it easier for businesses to provide assistive technology to support everyone. In February 2019, WebAIM conducted an accessibility evaluation of the home pages for the top 1,000,000 websites. The study discovered that 97.8% of homepages failed to comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which are the globally accepted guidelines to follow for web accessibility. This means the homepages of these websites aren’t accessible for some people with disabilities. Leading to people clicking away from inaccessible websites and spending their money elsewhere online. How can you support people online? If you want to make your website accessible to attract a wider audience and claim your portion of the Click Away pound, the Recite Me assistive toolbar is a great resource to allow everyone to explore your products and services barrier-free. Recite Me is a cloud-based accessibility and language support toolbar that provides a wide range of features to give a user full control over the customisation of the website to suit their needs. These features include screen reader, styling options, reading aids and a translation tool with over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices. Ultimately, Recite Me can help you improve your website’s conversion rate optimization by increasing the number of enquiries and sales through your website. The use and impact of the Recite Me toolbar can be effectively measured by showing rich insights into your customers' buying behaviour. 1000’s of organisations already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible for online visitors. To find out more or to book a demo please contact the team.
Visit Belfast supports everyone looking to visit the beautiful city of Belfast for business or for pleasure. Helping people to explore the area, find out what is happening in the city, where to eat or drink and ideas of where to stay. Visit Belfast represents more than 500 tourism businesses and services across the industry including accommodation providers, attractions, conference venues and services, tour operators, transport providers, entertainment venues, restaurants and cafes, pubs and clubs and event organisers.
The National Disability Rights Network was founded in 1982 and has grown to be the nation’s largest non-governmental enforcer of disability rights. NDRN’s mission is to promote the integrity and capacity of the P&A and CAP national network and to advocate for the enactment and vigorous enforcement of laws protecting civil and human rights of people with disabilities. NDRN has a vision of a society where people with disabilities have equality of opportunity and are able to participate fully in community life by exercising choice and self-determination.
We recently spoke to Dan Evans, Operations Manager at The Inn Collection Group to find out what they are doing to create change across the hospitality and entertainment industry regarding diversity and inclusion. Introduce yourself and your company I’m Dan Evans and I’m an operations manager at The Inn Collection Group, a dynamic and fast-growing pubco based in the North East of England. We have pubs with rooms in pretty outstanding locations in Northumberland, County Durham and Durham city itself as well as in the Lake District and Yorkshire. All our inns deliver our trusted eat drink, sleep and explore model, serving cracking British pub fare, a great range of drinks in a lovely environment, with overnight service accommodation too. Construction is underway on our first Wearside venue, The Seaburn Inn on the seafront in Sunderland, which is expected to open in winter 2020. What is your D&I mission for 2020 and beyond? Diversity and Inclusivity is a company-wide mission across The Inn Collection Group throughout the ranks. The Inn Collection Group is all about being as inclusive and welcoming to everyone. We embrace families, people with additional accessibility needs, overseas visitors, older people, dog owners, and multi-generational groups. This includes our own staff, creating inclusive guest experiences, and supporting diversity initiatives. It’s what sets us aside from competitors as a brand that people know and trust Our customers stay loyal to us and recommend us because of our values. Can you share some D&I best practice examples? From a team perspective, we continually look to invest in our employees, so they are not only upskilled and trained but so they share our ethos and philosophy in D&I and feel valued themselves as part of our Inn Collection Group family. It’s one of the reasons why we are officially The Best Pub Employer in the UK, after winning the category at the industry’s Publican Awards 2019. And that begins at the very first point of contact, whether it’s someone actually stepping through our doors, or clicking onto our website. We launched our Inspiration Academy that includes work-based learning, but also team building and motivational training days, ranging from speakers such as a world-class Olympic swimmer to go-karting and brewery visits. We work closely with partners such as Newcastle Airport’s inbound tourism campaign Visit North East England, Visit Great Britain and Visit England and are involved in projects such as Explorer’s Road to penetrate international markets including Dubai, America, and Germany. We have invested in translation facilities on our website, such as the Recite Me software that allows people browsing our website to select to view our site in their own language. Comments regarding being accessible across your online landscape? We are currently investing in a new website that will house all of our expanding portfolio of inns, making it easier for people to navigate our products and find out more about our brand. D& I begins at the first point of contact for us, whether that’s someone stetting through our doors, or landing on our website. We need to ensure they feel welcomed and inclusive. The Recite Me software not only makes our website content accessible but useable for everyone, whether they are visually impaired, neurodiverse, speak English as a second language or are of an older age. It results in a better online experience for potential customers, translating into increased sales and bookings. Share with us an example of D&I success? As a company, we punch above our weight when it comes to D&I. We are proud to have won numerous awards, in which our commitment to D&I plays an important part, not just because it is legislation, but because we genuinely want to open up our business to a wider audience. We recently hosted a FAM trip (familiarization trip) by German travel operators who have positive feedback about the Recite Me toolbar and translation service. We have a partnership with older people’s charity Abbeyfield and The Pub is a Hub that sees us open up our inns to isolated older people living alone for events and lunches. Many of the people who come along are internet savvy, but they need help being able to see their screens – we’ve had great feedback about the usability of our website, which Recite Me allows. Concluding company message Putting it simply, we aim to be the best we can be to applying continuous best practice across all our operations. For us, it’s not just about being legally compliant when it comes to D&I, it’s about really embedding it into our operations and mission statement so people choose to eat, drink, sleep and explore with us, as well as choose us to work for.
Sir Robert McAlpine is on a mission to create change. A mission to make the UK’s construction sector more diverse and inclusive. Traditionally the construction industry is known as a male-driven sector that falls short on inclusivity. We recently spoke to Nadeem Mirza, Head of Resourcing at Sir Robert McAlpine to find out what they are doing to create change for all. Please tell us a little about yourself and Sir Robert McAlpine My name is Nadeem Mirza and I am the Head of Resourcing at Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd. Sir Robert McAlpine is a family-owned tier one building and civil engineering company which was established in 1869. We have worked on some of Britain’s most iconic buildings and projects, including the Olympic Stadium, Big Ben, O2 Arena, and the Emirates Stadium. We focus on engineering excellence and building Britain’s future heritage. I have been with the company one and a half years now and what strikes you straight away is that we are a family-run organisation. From the top-down, everyone plays a vital role in taking this company forward. Sir Robert McAlpine operates like a FTSE company but within a family environment and this is the key to our joint success. What is your D&I mission for 2020 and beyond? At the heart of Sir Robert McAlpine is our family roots and this resonates across our inclusive workforce. Our vision is to create a business where everyone can thrive; where people are respected and treated fairly. Everyone can make a positive change regardless of your sex, race or religion. Ultimately our mission doesn’t change, to be a fully inclusive construction company with an open-door policy to all. Can you share some best practice examples? Sir Robert McAlpine’s board is equally split by gender. Female board members also champion and run our females in construction, mentoring program. A program designed to empower and support all females across the business, to breakdown the gender divide in construction. To continue our work towards a more diverse workforce Sir Robert McAlpine not only cherry-picks top universities. We work closely with all universities across the country to make sure we are able to attract and discover a wider pool of talent. Comments regarding being accessible across your online landscape? To discover and attract a wider pool of talent, and to unearth great people with unique skill sets, we needed to make sure our digital landscape was an environment where anyone could come and engage easily. In line with our commitment to lead on inclusion and inspire industry-wide change we now provide barrier-free access to our websites for people with a range of accessibility issues, including visual impairments, dyslexia, colour blindness and other forms of neurodiversity, as well as those who speak English as a second language. Concluding company message At Sir Robert McAlpine we want to inspire change across the construction industry through a genuine and honest commitment to inclusion that is embedded at every level of the organisation and promote the diversity of the communities we work in. Guest Blog with Nadeem Mirza, Head of Resourcing, Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd
Inclusive Employers workshop hosted in partnership with Recite Me. Recite Me is excited to announce that we will be hosting the North East Inclusive Employers workshop. On March the 6th at 10am Recite Me will welcome people to take part in a free workshop addressing the importance of being inclusive, alongside legislation risks, process best practices and how technology can help remove barriers. The event will cover the following topics; The importance of being inclusive What are the risks? Legislation and Reputation Where can biases slip into the process? Reducing the impact of bias Using technology to remove barriers Who Should Attend This Workshop? D&I professionals HR business partners and managers HR directors Senior leaders Recruitment Professionals This workshop is free to attend but spaces are limited and will be allocated on a first come first saved basis. If you're interested in attending this session, please contact us at email@example.com.
On the National Disability Rights Network website, located at the top left corner, we have a button titled “Accessibility Options”. When selected, the Recite toolbar appears – this is an accessibility overlay. Overlays are controversial in the #a11y community as they’re often misrepresented as “solving” inaccessible sites, or as a way of bringing a website into compliance. The misrepresentation of this tool perpetuates the idea that achieving total accessibility is possible. NDRN believes the Recite tool is critical because we know that people do not always have access to assistive technology like screen readers, or are able to modify the accessibility settings for the device they’re using to explore our website. Recite offers a different way for people with a variety of access needs to interact with our content. Without the toolbar, the information conveyed on NDRN’s website continues to be improved upon for optimal use by visitors with disabilities, and those that utilize existing assistive technology. With that said, the built-in Recite toolbar can help someone using a public computer that has dyslexia and could benefit from modified fonts, or someone who has low vision and wants to make adjustments to contrast settings. For people with disabilities living in institutions that often have very little control over a computer’s internal accessibility settings – an accessibility toolbar like Recite’s can be a real game-changer. The Recite toolbar is also for everyone. It serves as an educational tool, demonstrating what is possible with inclusion in mind. It’s for people who may be unaware of what accessibility features are, and simply want to give it a whirl. This exploration may prompt someone to modify the accessibility settings built into their own devices. We encourage all of our visitors that can, to click the “Accessibility Options” button and explore. Kat Holmes, author of Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design, noted during a podcast, “…to the definition of inclusion, is that it happens in many different ways. No company today is a perfect model of this in practice, in part because I think this work is really an ongoing and never-ending kind of evolution.” As NDRN continues to evolve and improve upon its website, we feel that the Recite toolbar is in alignment with the direction of our mission to address the access needs of our website visitors. The Recite toolbar compliments the goal and commitment NDRN has to ensure that all of our website resources are accessible to our website visitors. Tina Pinedo, Communication and Digital Specialist at the National Disability Rights Network
The results of the newly-released Click-Away Pound 2019 survey show that UK retailers lose out on £17 billion by ignoring the online needs of shoppers with disabilities. Click-Away Pound is a research survey conducted by Freeney Williams designed to explore the online shopping experience of people with disabilities in the UK and the cost to business of ignoring shoppers who are disabled. The Click-Away Pound 2016 survey was the first research that quantified the online spending of users with access needs and the results showed that online shopping was a very poor and limiting experience for many people with disabilities. For example, 71% of customers with disabilities who have access needs said they clicked away from websites that they find difficult to use. We caught up with Rick Williams, Click-Away Pound survey co-author and Freeney Williams co-founder, to find out what has changed since 2016. Why did you first start the Click-Away Pound Survey in 2016? RW: Website accessibility and usability has been a major issue for many disabled people with access needs for many years and little progress was being made despite the law, guidance, and publicity. We wanted to find a way of persuading business that website accessibility and usability was a real bottom-line issue and show what they were potentially missing out on. We thought this might be a more effective persuader as other approaches had not worked. According to the results of the Click-Away Pound Survey 2019, have things got better or worse since the 2016 survey? RW: Generally things haven’t changed from the user viewpoint – it is all rather disappointing. The percentage of those who click away from inaccessible websites has remained more or less the same, but the actual number has significantly increased simply because of the numbers of disabled people now on-line. Also, the click away spend has now increased by approximately 65% up to £17.1 billion, which is approximately 10% of the UK’s total on-line spend. Another interesting fact is the major increase in those people using phones to access online shopping, with over 50% of disabled people now using a phone or tablet. This has major implications for ensuring apps are accessible as well as websites. This trend is only likely to increase. Why do you think that things haven’t improved? RW: To be honest I’ve absolutely no idea - it is all very frustrating. The original survey was, and still is, widely read and referenced and the whole issue is getting more traction. We are coming to the conclusion that the current approach such as the law, business case, and PR issues aren’t delivering what is needed. Maybe we need to change the law and make the obligations much more specific as they are now for the public sector. What do you think are the key takeaway points from the Click-Away Pound Survey 2019? RW: The continued lack of understanding of business to this issue continues to be the key thing for me. This is illustrated by the numbers of people who said they would not bother to contact the business if they had an accessibility problem: in 2016 this was 7% and in 2019 it was 8%. If any figure shows how little business understand this customer profile it is this figure. The key reason given, of course, is that it isn’t worth the effort as no one understands what is being discussed and nothing changes anyway! How do the 2019 survey results make you feel? RW: Frankly, frustrated and disappointed, and like we are banging our heads against the proverbial brick wall. It is like businesses don't care about this major potential income stream and that they don't understand the impact of meeting the needs of disabled shoppers. If you had a magic wand and you could change one part of UK online accessibility, what would it be and why? RW: I would want organisations to take a much more proactive role in specifying the accessibility and usability of a website into any website or app design specification. This should be underpinned by the requirement for developers to demonstrate how they have done this. I would also suggest that organisations should ensure their management systems are up to delivering this requirement. This turns the issue into business as usual, which is what it should be. Given the Click-Away Pound Survey 2019 results, what action, if any, would you like to see the UK government take now? RW: We have come to the conclusion that specific regulations are the way forward. This is now the case for all public sector websites. Clearly the current law is not fit for purpose as whilst websites are covered by the Equality Act 2010 no cases have been taken to court. Conversely, there is endless data available about the importance of this issue in terms of the bottom line, image, and PR, but this hasn’t worked either.
Approximately one billion people globally have a disability and they can often face barriers when visiting inaccessible websites that prevent them from taking an active part in life. Your organization needs to address Website Accessibility. Click the image below to download our one-page document.
Vertus was launched with a clear vision; to be recognised for their market-leading service, undertaken with a values-based approach. Since then they have fast developed a reputation as a top supplier and trusted partner to clients, and more importantly, they identify life-changing opportunities to their candidates.
Anna Kennedy Online charity was founded by Dr Anna Kennedy OBE by her own journey with her two boys Patrick and Angelo and her frustration and disappointment with the lack of facilities and support across the UK. Anna Kennedy Online works hard providing workshops, training, legal advice and talks across the UK. All support and charity information is kept up to date on their website and daily across social media. They also work tirelessly on annual events such as their legendary showcase of ‘Autism’s Got Talent’ and their successful annual events AKO Autism Expo and the Autism Hero Awards.