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The reality of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK and countries around the world means that universities, colleges, and many schools are physically closed for the foreseeable future. But education never stops, so students and pupils around the world are now using the internet to learn online (broadband bandwidth permitting!). That said, the level of provision for online learning can range from using high-quality existing e-learning portals, which many universities have, through to very limited digital infrastructure. But the question is, is any of this accessible to all? Accessibility support is badly needed because evidence shows that many young people with disabilities and learning conditions struggle to get the support they need during their education. Some universities and colleges provide assistive technology across their online portals and websites to support students with remote learning, but a high percentage do not. In the 2017/2018 academic year, 94,000 students with disabilities entered UK universities which were up by more than 6,000 from the previous year and by 26,000 from 2013/14. This year on year increase proves that there is a growing case and need for educational organisations to be more accessible and inclusive online. As simple as providing accessibility and language support tools can greatly improve the digital learning experience of a student. The University of London uses Recite Me assistive technology on its website to support students with disabilities, visual impairments or people who speak English as a second language. Within six months of easily integrating the software across all digital platforms, The University of London had supported over 16,400 unique people to read and understand their content online barrier-free. As mentioned accessible online learning support for young children in schools is limited compared to universities. Nine out of ten young people with dyslexia will leave school without being diagnosed. This means they receive no essential specialist support while learning or support for exams. With everyone now learning from home online, it is vital that students with hidden disabilities are able to access the support they need in a way that works for them to understand and engage with tasks. When you consider that over 80,000 of the young people who sat their GCSEs last year have dyslexia, it reveals a situation that needs remedying quickly. Ultimately, it’s just as important to ensure that young people can access digital learning materials by using accessibility and language tools like Recite Me, as it is to make sure they are still learning.
CEO Ross Linnett announces that Recite Me will support all businesses for free to provide accessible Coronavirus information to their staff and customers. As Coronavirus continues to spread and has a detrimental impact on businesses Recite Me wants to reach out and support as many people as possible. The uncertainly around the recent Coronavirus pandemic has many of us worried. This is totally understandable. People want to be kept up to date with the latest information and how it will impact them and the services they use. To inform as many people as possible it is vital that this Coronavirus information is accessible. Recite Me CEO, Ross Linnett commented, “Recite Me was a dream to drive change, to be inclusive and to enable everyone to explore and share our online world freely. During these uncertain times Recite Me is here to support businesses across the world to create an accessible message to everyone surrounding Coronavirus. No cost, no agenda, just accessibility for all.” To ensure that vitally important information can be understood by everyone, Recite Me will host an accessible and inclusive landing page for businesses to share their Coronavirus message to all staff and customers. This will enable people with differing abilities, visual impairments, learning difficulties and people who speak English as a second language to understand their message. This landing page will automatically launch the Recite Me accessibility & language support toolbar, which includes text to speech functionality, fully customisable styling features, reading aids and a translation tool with over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices and many other features. “So, this is our pledge to help everyone in a time of need by helping any business make key information relating to Coronavirus accessible online, free of charge. “If you think your business needs help to make your Coronavirus related online information accessible and inclusive to all your staff and customers, please contact us now.”
We recently spoke to Dave Messenger, Supporter Liaison & Disability Access Officer at Watford Football Club to find out what they are doing to be a totally inclusive football club. Please tell us a little about yourself and Watford FC Dave Messenger, I’m the Supporter Liaison & Disability Access Officer for Watford FC. We’re a professional football club based in South West Hertfordshire, currently playing in the Premier League. I started working for the club as an SLO, having supported them since childhood, on promotion to the Premier League in the summer of 2015. The disability access part of my role was added in September 2015. What is your D&I mission for 2020 and beyond? Having been part of the Premier League’s commitment to accessibility in 2015, the club has spent a few years meeting the minimum guidelines for our facilities as set out in the Accessible Stadia Guide. We met these requirements during the 2018/19 season and with the structural work done, our focus since the start of the 2019/20 season has been bringing service related improvements to both home and visiting disabled supporters, especially those with hidden disabilities. Can you share some best practice examples? We have a dedicated section on our club’s website, which contains our Access Statement. This is also available in a “text-only” format. There is also an on-line tour of our accessible provision across the stadium and we have recently implemented a Hidden Disability Card Scheme, aimed at providing supporters with confidence that our stadium staff will be able to assist with any requirements on a matchday. Comments regarding being accessible across your online landscape? It’s hugely important for our website, and the information included, to be as accessible as possible. Part of the commitment to accessibility Premier League clubs made related to our web offering. Football stadia can be daunting for supporters with disabilities, so making our information as user-friendly as possible helps us ensure all visitors to Vicarage Road can make decisions and plans before they come to a match. We’re delighted to launch the Recite Me toolbar as part of our recent website update. Giving our supporters control of how the website looks will enable all supporters to easily access the information they want and need. Share an example of D&I success The club has been at the forefront of the drive to improve stadium facilities for children with autism and our Sensory Room, opened in late 2016, has now seen over 100 families attend a match at Vicarage Road. Of those families, 15 have transitioned to using general access areas of the stadium having broken down the barriers to their attendance using the Room. Concluding company message We’re proud of our long-held reputation for being a family football club and our on-going commitment to accessibility remains central to our work, as we continue to identify and make improvements to our provision for all disabled visitors to our club. Guest Blog with Dave Messenger, Supporter Liaison & Disability Access Officer, Watford Football Club
Watford Football Club today launch its all-new club website with the integration of Recite Me assistive technology to support fans with disabilities, visual impairments or people who speak English as a second language. At this time, it is crucial to be accessible online to support 20% of the population with disabilities, as we all stay at home. This innovative accessibility software will help bring supporters closer to the club by allowing fans to read and engage with the latest Watford FC content barrier-free. As part of Watford FC’s 2020 focus on supporting people with hidden disabilities, they have enhanced their digital landscape by making sure it is accessible and inclusive for everyone. The Recite Me accessibility and language toolbar provides a number of features to give a visitor full control over the customisation of the website to suit their needs. These features include screen reader, styling options, reading support and a translation tool with over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices. Dave Messenger, Supporter Liaison & Disability Access Officer, Watford Football Club commented, “We’re delighted to launch the Recite Me toolbar as part of the new-look website. We’ve focussed on improving our provision for supporters with hidden disabilities across this season and giving our supporters control of how the website looks will enable all supporters to easily access the information they want.”
Watford Football Club also proudly known as The Hornets has existed since the early days of organised football in England. Its beginnings have been traced back to 1881, when a group of teenagers staged kickabouts in Cassiobury Park. Today Watford FC has international exposure from being in the highest-profile league in the world, The Premier League.
The Coronavirus (aka COVID-19) pandemic has seen us all have to face up to the reality of unprecedented changes to our daily lives. The uncertainty around the pandemic means we are all very worried and scared, and we need to be kept up to date with the latest information and how it will impact our lives, jobs and the services we use. Now that the majority of us are working from home or looking after family at home, it means that the internet has taken an even more important place in our daily lives. The internet just took centre stage Quite simply, we must now go online more than ever before in order to conduct our daily business. So much so that internet service providers like BT's Openreach has reported a 20% surge in internet use recently. This could be to access information about income protection and benefits on the HMRC website, to check out the new opening times of a local pharmacy, to order groceries online for the first time, or to read the NHS’ COVID-19 related information online. This is why it’s crucial to ensure that all websites and their content are accessible and inclusive for everyone, including people with disabilities (approximately 20% of people in the UK) and those who speak English as their second language. Yet evidence like the Click-Away Pound 2019 survey shows that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many UK consumer websites aren’t accessible for people with disabilities. For example, the 2019 survey results show that nearly three-quarters of online consumers who are disabled (69%) will click away from websites that they find difficult to use due to the effect of their disability. So if people are being told they now have no choice but to go online to access information, services, and goods, what happens if a website is inaccessible for them? It doesn’t bear thinking about given some of the reported waiting times people are spending to get through to organisation’s like HMRC (around 10 hours!) on the telephone. Make your website accessible for free That’s why here at Recite Me we are offering to host a free accessible and inclusive landing page for any business to share your COVID-19 related messages to all staff and customers so that vital information can be understood by everyone. Each bespoke landing page will automatically launch the Recite Me accessibility and language assistive toolbar, helping people with disabilities, visual impairments, learning difficulties and people who speak English as a second language to stay well-informed. Recite Me has a range of features that include text to speech functionality, fully customisable styling features, reading aids and a translation tool with over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices. You can visit the dedicated COVID-19 support page on our website now to find out how the free accessible and inclusive landing page works and how to contact us to create a landing page for your business. Ross Linnett, Recite Me CEO and Founder said: “When information is vital, it is vital that information is accessible and inclusive for all. “If you think your business needs help to make your COVID-19 related online information accessible and inclusive to all your staff and customers, please contact us now.”
The Disability Employment Gap is the difference in employment rates between people with disabilities and the rest of the working-age population. Some people may not understand that such a gap exists, but it represents a significant difference in the rates of employment of people with disabilities and those without them. Recent data from the ONS shows that in 2019 roughly half of the people with disabilities were in employment (53.2%), compared with just over four out of five non-disabled people (81.8%). Whilst this figure has reduced from 2013 to 2019 the fact that nearly 30% less of people with disabilities are in work, compared to those without disabilities, shows there is still a huge pool of hidden talent for recruiters to tap into. That’s why it is so important that recruiters make the application process accessible and inclusive for everyone. If people with disabilities can’t access your website or your online jobs portal to find job adverts, read job descriptions and apply for jobs, how can they apply and express their hidden talents? Accessible and inclusive recruitment Recruiters like Morson Group understand this and they are going the extra mile to ensure their recruitment process is accessible and inclusive for everyone. Rebekah Lee, Head of Marketing at Morson Group commented, "As a recruitment agency, Morson are gatekeepers who can open the doors to the world of work for people with disabilities. Therefore, we have a responsibility to our candidate community to reduce the barriers in place that may hold people back from applying for roles.” To make their online recruitment process totally inclusive, they have added the Recite Me’s assistive toolbar to their website. Recite Me offers a suite of accessibility tools, including solutions for visitors who may be neurodivergent, visually impaired or have learning difficulties. Since Morson Group added Recite Me to its website in March 2019 it has been used by over 7000 people to help them research and apply for a job barrier-free. Rebekah added, “Recite Me technology ensures every part of our recruitment process is accessible to everyone, from browsing to making an application. By employing Recite Me, we can ensure that every candidate gets an equal chance at developing their career by being able to access the same opportunities to gain and maintain employment.” In total, nearly 38,000 accessibility features have been used to support an individual’s customise experience (styling, reading and translation), including over 25,000 pieces of content read aloud. Recite Me also supports people who don’t speak English as their first language, and it has been used on the Morson Group website to translate almost 9000 pieces of content into over 100 languages. Providing assistive technology creates a level playing field to enable everyone the opportunity to discover and apply for their dream job barrier-free. 1000’s of organisations already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible for people with disabilities. To find out more or to book a demo please contact the team now.
The results of the recently released Click-Away Pound 2019 survey show that nearly three-quarters of disabled online consumers (69%) will click away from websites that they find difficult to use due to the effect of their disability. This represents 4.9 million online shoppers with a collective purchasing power of £17.1 billion, which is around 10% of the total UK online spend. To reiterate, this means UK retailers lose out on £17 billion every year by failing to meet the online needs of shoppers with disabilities. We recently caught up with Rick Williams, Click-Away Pound survey co-author and Freeney Williams co-founder, to ask him what has changed since 2016, now here’s our take away of six key points from the report. The online spending power of people with access needs in the UK is now £24.8 billion. The number of people with disabilities online with access needs has risen from 6.10 million in 2016 to 7.15 million in 2019. As these numbers have grown so has the combined spending power, to just under £25 billion. The size of this market underlines just how big the potential opportunities are for businesses to meet these access needs online. The click-away pound in the UK in 2019 now stands at £17.1 billion Whilst the total online spending power above has increased to nearly £25 billion, 70% of people with access needs will click away from an inaccessible website. This means that UK businesses are missing out on over £17 billion per year, up more than £5 billion from £11.75 billion in 2016. The fact that this figure is increasing and not decreasing shows that on the whole, UK businesses haven’t done what’s required to make their websites accessible since 2016. 86% of users with access needs would spend more if there were fewer barriers This figure has increased since the 2016 report, when 82% of users with access needs said they would spend more if there were fewer barriers. This increase shows that more than ever people with disabilities will buy more from businesses that offer them a better and more accessible service online. 8% of users with access needs contacted the site owner about barriers they experience This represents a small increase of 1% since 2016, but the rise shows that more people with disabilities are prepared to challenge businesses to make their websites accessible. But, as this number is so low, most businesses aren’t aware of how inaccessible their websites are. 83% of participants with access needs limit their shopping to sites that they know are accessible Whilst this is 2% less than in 2016, it still shows that people with disabilities are much more likely to keep using a business’ website if it works well for them. Furthermore, 86% of respondents have chosen to pay more for a product from an accessible website rather than buy the same product for less from a website that was harder to use. Whilst 75% of users with access needs feel accessibility is more important than the price. This shows that people with disabilities will pay a small premium for better and more accessible service online. 35% of users with access needs use a smartphone as preferred device for online shopping This has risen sharply from 9%, in line with the proliferation of mobile devices across the UK as a whole. At the same time, amongst users with access needs, the desktop computer as the preferred device has fallen from 38% to 24%, and the laptop from 38% to 29%. And amongst UK screenreader users, smartphone preference has risen from 11% to 41%. This shows how important it is for businesses to ensure their websites are accessible via mobile devices, not just desktop PCs. 1000’s of organisations already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible for people with disabilities. To find out more or to book a demo please contact the team now.
It’s good to talk, as Bob Hoskins famously said in the TV advert. And this week (16 – 22 March 2020) National Conversation Week wants us all to talk about the ‘M’ word – money. Worryingly a survey of 1000 people in the UK commissioned by National Conversation Week found that almost 40% of people say that finance worries them more than anything else in their lives. But, only half of the same people said they would seek professional financial advice. That’s why the aim of National Conversation Week is to get us all talking more about our finances and improving our financial knowledge. Here’s some information about how you can get involved in National Conversation Week. Financial inclusion matters too National Conversation Week is also a great time to talk about financial inclusion and what that means. Financial inclusion essentially means making sure banking and financial websites, apps, products, services and information about money is accessible to everyone. Around one in five people in the UK have a disability and ensuring they can access financial products, services and information both physically and digitally is critical. Not only is it a legal requirement of The Equality Act 2010, evidence shows that getting it wrong costs businesses of all kinds in the UK over £17 billion per year in lost sales. Credit where it’s due, UK high-street banking giants like Barclays, HSBC, and Lloyds have done great work to ensure their digital products, services and information are accessible to all customers. But there is still much more work to be done in the wider banking and financial sectors in the UK to ensure all digital products and services are accessible for people with disabilities. Auriga Services changing lives Auriga Services is an organisation that understands how important it is to make financial services accessible to everyone. Auriga Services supports people to come out of debt and rebuild their lives by managing the charitable trust funds for Severn Trent Water, United Utilities, Thames Water and others including British Gas. Auriga has helped 1.9 million people to reduce their financial hardship by working closely with their clients to meet the main objective of ‘Changing Lives Every Day’. Many of Auriga Services’ customers may be overwhelmed with their financial situation and they need to be able to access the financial support that is available to them. Supporting customers with digital access needs In order to make the Auriga Services website accessible for people with access needs, they installed the Recite Me’s assistive toolbar, to enable all visitors to customise it in a way that works for them. This can be changing the page style to customize the colour and size of text, links and backgrounds, or using the reading aids to speak aloud content and mask distractions on the screen. People who speak English as a second language benefit from the real-time translation feature, which can translate content into over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices. These features allow a large number of customers in vulnerable circumstances to seek the financial support they need easily, without any hassle or stress. So on National Conversation Week please think and talk about digital inclusion as well as financial knowledge, because being able to access money and information online is as important as understanding what to do with it. 1000’s of organisations already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible for people with disabilities. To find out more or to book a demo please contact the team now.
Disability Rights Arkansas mission is to vigorously advocate for and enforce the legal rights of people with disabilities. They envision an Arkansas where people with disabilities are equal members in their communities and can dictate the course of their own lives through self-determination. DRA treats all people with dignity, respect, and compassion.
Europe’s Largest Dyslexia Event 20th – 21st March 2020 Birmingham NEC Dyslexia Show 2020 is the UK’s first free to attend national exhibition dedicated entirely to dyslexia. The Dyslexia Show is open to all and focuses on awareness and the understanding of dyslexia in education, parenting, and the workplace. Recite Me helps people with dyslexia and sensory issues to read and understand website content by letting them change the look and feel of a website to suit their personal needs. A user can fully customise the background and text colour as well as the font type, sizing, spacing, and line-height. This includes the specialist Open Dyslexic font, which is designed to give letters extra weight at the bottom, so words don’t jump around the screen. To learn more about Recite Me assistive technology join us in Hall 8 at stand W45 for a live demonstration of the software in action.
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