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How Does Web Accessibility Impact Marketing Outcomes?

10 Mar 2021 | news

Fact: If your website is not accessible you are excluding a vast number of potential customers, as people with disabilities represent a significant and often undervalued segment of the market for any type of organisation. Websites should be easy to reach and navigate by everyone, yet the varying access barriers faced by disabled individuals means this is rarely the case. This makes website accessibility such an important consideration, that you simply cannot afford to ignore it. It is estimated that: At least 2.2 billion people worldwide have a vision impairment. Dyslexia affects at least 15% of the population. Dyspraxia affects at least 10% of the population. More than 5% of the population suffer from attention disorders like ADHD. Approximately 450 million people are living with mental or neurological conditions like epilepsy, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. Around one in every hundred people are on the autism spectrum. 1-2% of the population in developed nations have issues with basic reading and writing. 1 in every 5 households speaks a language other than English at home. Millions of people suffer temporary disabilities as a result of accidental injury. The Impact of Web Accessibility on Marketing Adopting web accessibility technology helps to reduce legal risk and ensure you are doing the right thing for disability rights. But from a marketing perspective, the benefits go way further than that: Reaching a wider audience – The statistics above account for 1 in every 5 people. That’s 20% of the overall market that you are missing out on if your website is not accessible to everyone. And of that 20%... Only 10% of users have the technology they need to access websites barrier-free. 71% leave a site that they find hard to use. 86% would spend more if there were fewer barriers. 83% limit their shopping to sites that they know are accessible. Recite Me Fact After adopting new web accessibility practices, Legal & General Group doubled its website visitor numbers and increased organic search traffic by 50%, while simultaneously cutting maintenance costs by two-thirds. SEO Benefits – Many of the recommended best practices for improved accessibility are heavily weighted on search engine algorithms. The latest Google algorithm updates actively validate websites that follow accessibility guidelines, and sites offering digital inclusion are becoming increasingly favoured as trusted sources on search queries. “There’s a considerable overlap between features that enhance accessibility and SEO performance. By making your web pages accessible to everyone, you’re also boosting your chances of being found in search.” Clair Brotherton, Founder of A Clear, Bright Web Improved User Experience (UX) - User experience is crucial in the success of any online marketing activities. Search engines actively help to raise awareness by encouraging businesses to adopt better web accessibility standards. For example, Google has official guidelines explaining accessibility and how businesses can help to create a better user experience. The entire purpose of a UX-friendly design is to improve usability. This is where products like the Recite Me assistive toolbar come in. Accessibility compliance alone does not enable users to create a fully customisable experience. What makes a website truly inclusive is giving people as many choices as possible so they can modify their own view of your site and consume the information in a way that is personalised and tailored to their individual needs. Improved PR Value – Forbes Magazine recently reported that 52% of all adult online consumers consider a company’s values when making a purchase. That rate is even higher among the Millennial and Gen Z generations, who are incredibly socially conscious in their purchasing habits. It’s no longer feasible to just avoid ‘being the bad guy’. Companies are expected to actively set a good example of being open and inclusive to everyone. Brand Reputation - Customers favour brands that care about helping others. In a world where consumers are increasingly value-driven, any company that actively promotes inclusivity in its operations will gain a more positive brand identity. In short, if your company isn’t viewed as being inclusive, your products and services will appear less authentic, and customers simply will not spend their hard-earned money with you. “Digital businesses with accessible websites are demonstrating leadership by example. They are showcasing proof that ethical accessibility practices can help increase brand credibility, inclusion for all, and online conversions.” Kim Krause Berg, Web Design Standards and Compliance Specialist Increased ROI – Return on investment on web accessibility technology is easy to track. Recite Me contracts come with automated monthly reporting and quarterly reviews as standard, and your dedicated account manager is always on hand to help you access more insights through our Google Analytics plug-in. Website visitors using assistive technology have a longer, more enjoyable digital journey. On average, people using the Recite Me toolbar will visit over 4.5 pages per session which surpasses the internet average of 2.8 pages per session. This also decreases the average bounce rate of a website. Increased ROI can be measured and tracked across every sector of industry: Careers - In January 2021, over 3,900 people used the Recite Me toolbar to search for a new career with Morson Group. Utilities - United Utilities helped over 100,000 people to read and understand online content barrier-free in 2020. Education - Last year, the University of Sunderland helped over 30,000 students access educational information remotely. Local Authority – In 2020, online communications became vital for local councils, and Recite Me witnessed a massive 137%increase in the use of our accessibility support throughout the year. Our Top 5 Website Design Tips That Improve Web Accessibility Designing an effective website means including characteristics that make it: Functional – accessible and easy to use Effective – the communication is clear Visually pleasing Yet, there is an astonishing number of websites that are heavily lacking in functionality and effectiveness. Fact Box: In 2019, an evaluation by WebAIM concluded that 97.8% of homepages failed to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. We advise marketers to adopt the following best practices to ensure more accessible and inclusive web content: Use Headings (H Tags) to define hierarchy – Having content ordered in a logical and easy-to-follow order helps users with limited focus and attention to stay on the page and consume the content. Provide relevant alternative text for images – Site visitors with visual impairments may not be able to see images clearly, therefore image descriptions add context and provide value. Write descriptive anchor texts – Forget ‘click here’ or ‘read more’. Good anchor text tells readers what to expect so they know if the content is relevant to them. It also increases the chances of extra clicks, which in turn means more web traffic and increased SEO scores. Make web forms accessible – Many disabled users struggle to fill in online forms. Even simple enquiry forms requiring only a name, phone number, and email address can prove difficult for those with access barriers. Use high contrasting colours - Individuals who struggle with conditions such as dyslexia or colour blindness need additional options to the standard ‘black on white’ template. Takeaways for Digital Marketers When web accessibility is part of the strategy and planning process, organisations become better equipped for success. This is true across all industries, whether the primary goal of your business is commerce, academia, or civic engagement. “Inclusion is not a matter of political correctness. It is the key to growth.” Jesse Jackson, Politician and Civil Rights Activist Software like the Recite Me toolbar bridges the gap between accessibility and usability and promotes inclusivity by allowing those with sight loss, cognitive impairments, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, and varying linguistic needs to access websites in the way that is best suited to them. Together, we can help optimise your marketing efforts and help make the internet a more inclusive environment at the same time. If you’d like more information on how your organisation can make a positive change towards inclusion by utilising our website assistive technology, please contact our team or book a real-time demonstration of our toolbar.

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Thriving with Dyslexia & Accessible Technology

09 Mar 2021 | news

Recite Me Founder & CEO Ross Linnett joins Dyslexia Foundation on their latest podcast to talk about thriving with dyslexia and accessible technology. Recite Me is a personalised toolbar for people with disabilities or learning difficulties to help them access and utilise the internet in the best way for them. Ross wasn’t diagnosed with Dyslexia until after university but he always struggled with mainstream schooling. The assistive technology he was given at uni to cope with his undiagnosed learning difficulties was frustrating. He really felt his disadvantage online, with little resources to overcome his exclusion. He wanted something easy to use, that he could personalise to help maximise his use of the internet. Thus the idea for Recite Me was born.

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Web Accessibility Solutions for the Not For Profit Sector

08 Mar 2021 | news

The not-for-profit sector is well known for supporting some of the most vulnerable members of our society. So it makes sense that many charities and not-for-profit organizations are taking the lead in tackling web accessibility as a way of championing their causes as efficiently as possible. Recite Me is already helping to make a positive change by providing our website assistive technology to a number of not for profit support groups, including: Amnesty International American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Violence Free Colorado Disability Rights groups across America including Florida, Tennessee, and Arkansas Non Profit and Web Accessibility: A Natural Link By their very nature, not for profits actively work towards equality and inclusion, so right from the very start, we have a clear shared goal. At Recite Me, our focus is always on the benefits to the end-user, and how web accessibility technology can bring people together. Important website functions include communicating the organization’s mission and attracting supporters, volunteers, ambassadors, and benefactors. This is almost impossible if websites are not accessible. In recent times especially, many Americans are struggling financially as a result of COVID-19, so attracting a wider audience by making websites accessible to everyone is a great way for organizations in the charity and not for profit sector to be more visible, help more people, recruit more sponsors, and attract donors. So much of our everyday lives take place online now, that people become excluded if they don’t have equal access to online information. This creates a two-tiered society, something which non-profits usually work hard to avoid. So again, the shared values between business goals and the benefits of web accessibility are very clear. Tap into a Whole New Market Most organizations are shocked at how much more exposure they can gain by becoming more digitally inclusive. Did you know that: Around 14 million Americans have a visual impairment Up to 23% of US citizens have a learning difficulty One in four people in the US have a disability An estimated 15% of the population is neurodiverse Over 67 million people in the US speak a language other than English at home All of these individuals need additional help to read and understand information on a website. Whether it’s changing the way the website looks, what language it’s in, or using a different method of navigation, Recite Me can help make your website accessible to everyone. How It Works With the Recite Me assistive toolbar installed on your site, those with sight loss, cognitive impairments, learning difficulties, attention disorders, literacy issues, and varying linguistic needs can access your website in a way best suited to their individual requirements. Users can: Personalize font size, type, and color options to make each web page easier to read. Download content as an audio file as an alternative to reading. Access text to speak functions in 35 different languages. Have text read aloud at varying speeds. Convert text into over 100 different on-screen languages. Utilize a screen mask and ruler for better focus. Make use of the toolbar’s built-in dictionary and thesaurus. Switch to “text-only” mode to strip away graphics and page clutter. Our assistive toolbar is quick and easy to implement on your website, and can usually be installed in under an hour. After that, the results speak for themselves, but we’re still on hand to help. Recite Me contracts come with automated monthly reporting and quarterly reviews as standard, and your dedicated account manager is there to assist with anything from how to drive more insights through our Google Analytics plug-in, to how to market yourself as an accessible and inclusive organization. How Accessible Websites Help Non Profits Over the last calendar year, Recite Me made over 350,000 charity and not-for-profit website pages accessible. Our 2020 data shows that: On average, Recite Me users view 4 pages of an accessible website per visit, almost double the average internet journey depth of just 2.5 pages per visit. The Recite Me assistive toolbar was launched on average 15,000+ times every month on the websites of national charities and not for profits. Smaller and more regional operations recorded toolbar launches of 5,000-12,000 each per month. Over 770,000 individual styling changes were made by users accessing charity and nonprofit sites. Our translation options were the most popular features on not-for-profit sites, with some websites reporting as many as 20,000 unique translations. A Focus on Translation It’s no surprise that our translation functions are some of the most commonly used, given the diverse audience within America. Data USA statistics show that 13.7% of all United States residents were born in another country. To put that into perspective, that’s 44.8 million people! The most common foreign languages spoken in the United States are: Spanish - over 41million speakers Chinese (including Mandarin & Cantonese) - over 3 million speakers Tagalog (including Filipino) - over 1.5 million speakers Add to this the fact that 47% of internet users globally are non-English speaking, and the case for making your website more accessible to non-native English speakers becomes even more clear. So whatever way you look at it, website translation is something you need. “When your site is available in multiple languages, you attract the attention of an international market. You also become identified as a global brand which elevates your status and improves your reputation.” Nick McGuire, E-commerce specialist and blogger Cost-Benefit Analysis Installing assistive technology on your website is a much more budget-friendly option than duplicating all of your website pages into other languages. The more languages you add, the more expensive it becomes. On average, for a small website of around 10,000 words, the cost of translation would be approximately $1,200 per language – and this doesn’t even cover the additional costs of integration and website management. Plus, some languages require complicated coding (like Arabic and Hebrew, for example). Then comes the problem of which languages to prioritize. Recite Me removes the need for many of these decisions and a big chunk of the cost in one simple install. What Have You Got to Lose? A whole lot! Let's count the ways that your organization is limited without an accessible website: The ability to reach a wider audience - 71% of users leave a site that they find hard to use, and 83% of people with access needs limit their internet time to sites that they know are accessible. Increased traffic and sales conversions - 86% of users with access needs would spend more if there were fewer barriers, and the total disposable income of the US working-age population with disabilities is $490 billion. An enhanced brand image and reputation – stand out from your competition by demonstrating social responsibility through being inclusive. Fewer legal implications - it is expected by law that businesses and service providers do not treat disabled people less favorably. Learn More You can find out more about the charities and not-for-profits that use Recite Me software on our sector pages. If you would like to speak to one of the team about booking a demonstration of our assistive toolbar or would like any further information, please contact us and we’ll be happy to assist you.

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Disability Rights Nebraska

08 Mar 2021 | case-study

Disability Rights Nebraska is a private, non-profit organization that is designated to provide protection and advocacy services to the population of Nebraska. Their main mission is to protect, support, and promote the rights of people with disabilities by ensuring that they live free from harm and exercise the same rights, opportunities, and choices available to all citizens.

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Disability Rights Nebraska Breakdown Online Inaccessibility Barriers

08 Mar 2021 | news

Disability Rights Nebraska is supporting those who face challenges online by providing Recite Me assistive technology to the 22.2% of Nebraskans with a disability, enabling access to information barrier-free. Disability Rights Nebraska is a private, non-profit organisation that is designated to provide protection and advocacy services to the 1.9 million people of Nebraska. Protecting, supporting and promoting the rights of people with disabilities. To fulfill their commitment to Nebraskans, Disability Rights Nebraska ensures those with a disability live free from harm and exercise the same rights, opportunities and choices available to all citizens. By using Recite Me assistive technology, Disability Rights Nebraska has improved the quality of their communications online for those who are visually impaired, neurodiverse, or those who speak English as a second language. Eric Evans, the CEO of Disability Rights Nebraska, commented, “Disability Rights Nebraska is excited about the significant step we have taken toward cultivating a more accessible and inclusive online presence. Our website’s recent addition of the Recite Me toolbar provides each website visitor the ability to access our resources and materials in a way that best fits their individual needs and preferences. “We are confident that the toolbar will maximize the reach and value of our online content, especially for those who will benefit most from it.” The assistive toolbar on Disability Rights Nebraska website offers users features such as translating content into different languages, read aloud and styling assistance. This includes adjustments to color, font type and size.

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APSCo & Recite Me Create Strategic Partnership to Support the Recruitment Sector to Become Inclusive Online

04 Mar 2021 | news

Recite Me has joined forces with APSCo to educate and advise its members on creating an inclusive candidate journey online. This partnership will provide many recruitment organisations with the information, ideas, and support they need to create an inclusive experience online enabling all candidates to have equal access to job opportunities. APSCo leads the way as the only membership body dedicated to representing excellence in the professional recruitment industry. To drive APSCo’s mission to represent excellence in the recruitment industry it is vital that the digital world is accessible to all when applying and searching for job vacancies. 14.1 million people in the UK have a disability and often encounter obstacles online when applying for jobs. By providing accessibility and language support employers can remove barriers for those with disabilities, visual impairments, learning difficulties and for those who speak English as a second language. Sam Hurley, APSCo Operations Director commented, “APSCo believes that the services of recruitment firms should be accessible to everyone. We want our members to be able to access broader talent pools and be in a stronger position to support candidates and clients. We feel that Recite Me has the progressive technology and expertise that will enable our members to take positive action when driving inclusion throughout their recruitment practices. We look forward to joining forces with the team at Recite Me as we continue to push the diversity and inclusion agenda out to the recruitment sector." With only 51% of applications from disabled people resulting in an interview, assistive technology offers support to website users to enable them to understand information, making it easier to apply for jobs online. Website users can use features such as translating content into different languages, reading aloud and styling assistance. This includes adjustments to colour, font type and size. APSCo web users can customise their experience online with the Recite Me toolbar to suit their needs. They can also access Recite Me resources to help create an inclusive experience, attracting a wider talent pool for career opportunities. To find out more about the Recite Me toolbar and how it can help create an inclusive candidate journey online please contact the team or book a demo and make sure to quote our 10% discount code of APSCoReciteMe21

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Why is Inclusive Recruitment Important?

01 Mar 2021 | news

As National Careers Week 2021 kicks off, we’d like to highlight the importance of web accessibility in creating both diverse and inclusive workplaces. Website accessibility and inclusion factors have never been more important in the careers and employment sector, as now more than ever before, job searches and recruitment drives are taking place online. “Accessibility is often forgotten about when speaking about diversity and inclusion, but it is the missing link. You can have the most diverse workforce…but if anyone experiences barriers to access then you haven’t ensured inclusion for all.” Michael Bach, in his book, Birds of All Feathers: Doing Diversity and Inclusion Right What is Inclusive Recruitment? Inclusive recruitment covers the entire candidate experience from discovery and attraction right through to application, onboarding and beyond. It is the process of being able to offer a barrier-free experience where everyone is able to embrace and fulfill the full recruitment journey on a level playing field. It is worth noting that diversity and inclusion are not the same thing and improving one will not automatically solve problems with the other. What Sort of Barriers do Applicants Face Online? Typically, when recruiters and employers think of accessibility, they consider only the physical access needs of disabled candidates and employees. This is a short-sighted view, as in addition to physical access barriers, there is also a multitude of other disabilities and conditions that need to be accommodated in the nonphysical world. Examples include: Visual impairments Deafblindness Colour blindness Dyslexia Hyperlexia Dyspraxia ADHD Epilepsy Another disadvantage for people viewing content online can be if they speak English as a second language. Candidates and employees who struggle with any of the above have a much harder time finding and staying in employment, as the information on websites is not as easy for them to access, read, understand, or act upon. Did you know…? Only 51% of applications from disabled people result in an interview, compared to 69% of non-disabled applicants. Nearly 40% of disabled applicants feel insecure about getting hired as they believe employers will disregard their application based on their impairment or condition. On average, disabled people apply for 60% more jobs before finding one. Only one in three job seekers think employers and recruiters make online job applications suitably accessible for disabled people. Only 26% of jobseekers think employers and recruiters make online job applications suitably accessible for people who speak English as a second language. Why Should Employers Provide an Inclusive Candidate Journey? The key for employers is to alter their perceptions and the way they think about disability, and make positive changes to the way they attract, recruit, develop, and retain disabled employees. Many companies shy away from web accessibility and inclusion factors as they perceive them as being complex, expensive, or simply too difficult to workaround. However, this is a misperception, as the average cost of making an accommodation for a disabled employee is relatively low and data shows that employees with disabilities take less time off and tend to stay with companies for longer. Other key advantages include: Drawing from the widest pool of talent available. Discovering new skill sets - neurodiverse employees are often creative thinkers and strategic problem solvers. Acquiring high-quality staff who are skilled, hardworking, loyal, and highly motivated. Improving innovation thanks to the wider perspective gained by having a more diverse team. Creating equal opportunities that make everyone feel included. Demonstrating fairness in the workplace. Improving staff morale. Showing customers and other businesses that you are committed to equality in the workplace. Increasing revenue and profits - there is growing evidence of links between improved inclusion and financial success. Did you know... During 2020, Recite Me witnessed a surge in recruitment companies and in-house talent teams using our assistive technology to create inclusive candidate journeys. Across our career and recruitment clients specifically, our data shows: A 168% increase in the use of our accessibility technology to customise application experiences in 2020. Our assistive toolbar was launched over 58,000 times on employment sector websites during the 2020 lockdown, February to May - an increase in usage by a massive 115%. More than 230,000 web pages were viewed with Recite Me technology by people searching for their next careers. A Case Study: Morson Group Morson Group is a global technical recruiter that adopted Recite Me accessibility technology in 2019. The Morson team is confident that by educating their clients about accessibility and providing an inclusive candidate journey that they can improve the lives of their contractor base and their own employees. Everyone should have the opportunity to find their dream job. With our assistive toolbar installed on their site, Morson Group has dramatically increased their reach, enabling 27% more of the UK population to access their online content than before. In January 2021 almost 4,000 people utilised Recite Me web accessibility tools on the Morson Group website to help them with their job search. “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.” Rebekah Lee, Head of Marketing A Case Study: SNC Lavalin With over 50,000 employees spread across operations and offices around the globe, SNC Lavalin is a world leader in consultancy and project management in a range of industries. The brand is well known for its diversity policies and active approach to thinking and working differently. So their recruitment team is always looking for people who experience the world in different ways. “Recite Me goes to the very heart of our values. It's helping us build a diverse, inclusive environment where we respect, understand and value different people – starting with how we recruit them.” Victoria Jones, Head of Recruitment In just 3 months between June and August 2020, SNC Lavalin had already recorded: Nearly 11,500 toolbar launches Over 2,800 unique users Almost 38,000 styling feature clicks Useful Links for Recruiters and Job Seekers There are some great companies out there who specialise in creating awareness and removing barriers to help disabled applicants into work: RIDI – a non-profit initiative with a goal to create disability confident recruiters and help reduce the UK disability employment gap. Inclusive Employers - the UK's first and leading membership organisation that supports businesses trying to develop more inclusive practices within the workplace. Recite Me are proud to list Inclusive Employers as one of our clients. Verdica – A recruitment agency specializing in diversity and inclusion, offering services to “Find a job with an employer who ‘gets’ YOU.” Accessibility Versus Inclusion Or to put in another way, equality versus equity. Forbes Magazine highlighted a good example of this in their article about equity and accessibility in the workplace, where it was explained that equality would be giving everyone a house to live in, whereas equity would be giving people in tropical climates extra cooling systems and mosquito screens, and those in colder climates better insulation and heating. The same principle applies to web accessibility. Complying with accessibility guidelines and adopting an accessible website build are great steps forward. But compliance alone does not enable users to create a fully customisable experience that works for every individual. "What makes a website truly inclusive is giving people as many choices as possible so they can modify their own view and consume the information in a way that is personalised and tailored to their individual needs. It is in this area of advocating web accessibility, but also promoting digital inclusion at a much higher level, in which Recite Me sits. to put it simply, accessibility + usability = inclusion” Ross Linnett, Recite Me Founder & CEO How does Web Accessibility Technology Work? Recite Me’s assistive toolbar supports a diverse range of applicants, recruiters, and staff in the workplace by providing a variety of tools that allow users to create a fully customisable experience. Our accessibility features can either be used individually or combined to make multiple adjustments for ultimate ease of use. Users can: Personalise font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read. Utilise the mask screen tool, which isolates parts of the page to help with focus. Use the ruler tool to make reading easier. Download content as an audio file as an alternative to reading. Convert page content into over 100 different on-screen languages. Have the page read aloud in a choice of 35 different languages. Customise PDF documents and have them read aloud or translated. Over 2500 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 today.

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Let's Talk: How to Create an Inclusive Candidate Journey

25 Feb 2021 | news

In our latest "Let's Talk" round table session, Recite Me's Chief Revenue Officer, Darryn Hall, Rezoomo CEO and Co-Founder Cathal Doorley and Jim Berrisford, the Chief Commercial Officer at Rezoomo, deep dive into how companies can remove online barriers to create an inclusive candidate journey. Recite Me assistive online technology has collaborated with Rezoomo’s talent acquisition software to provide an inclusive experience when attracting, engaging, and managing candidates. This will allow web users to customise their web page in a way in which works best for them. In this insightful discussion Recite Me and Rezoomo tell-all about inclusive recruitment, how to understand your audience and the options you should make available to help everyone apply for a job in a way that is best suited for them.

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NHS Public Health Wales

24 Feb 2021 | case-study

NHS Public Health is the leading organisation in Wales working to improve the well-being of 3 million people in the UK. As part of the NHS, their aim is to continuously improve healthcare to help create the safest and highest quality health service.

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NHS Public Health Wales Create an Inclusive User Experience Online

24 Feb 2021 | news

NHS Public Health Wales has improved the quality of their communications online by providing accessibility and language options to support a diverse range of people. NHS Public Health is the leading organisation in Wales working to improve the well-being of 3 million people in the UK. As part of the NHS, their aim is to continuously improve care to help create the safest and highest quality health service. 1 in 5 people (17.9%) in the UK are disabled and often encounter obstacles online when searching for information on healthcare, services and COVID-19 advice. By using Recite Me assistive technology those who are visually impaired, neurodiverse or who speak English or Welsh as a second language can gain access to healthcare information hassle-free. Rebecca Fogarty, Engagement and Collaboration Manager at NHS Public Health Wales commented, “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.” The assistive toolbar on the NHS public Health Wales website offers users features such as translating content into different languages, read aloud and styling assistance. This includes adjustments to colour, font type and size. In the first month of launching the Recite Me toolbar, there have been over 1600 unique users, accessing the assistance they need to support their online journey at https://phw.nhs.wales/ . Leah Morantz, Head of Communications at NHS Public Health Wales explained, “User experience has been at the heart of our website redevelopment project and we’ve always tried to keep the needs of the audience central to our content planning and layout design. “Working with the National Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) we’re piloting a way forward for the other NHS Wales websites. If the new developments meet audience needs, we’ll be able to roll them out to the other health boards and trusts across Wales.” Ross Linnett, Founder & CEO of Recite Me explained, “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.” Recite Me is quick and easy to implement on your website. Join the thousands of companies who have already adopted our inclusive software to make the digital world accessible for all.

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Public Sector Budget Planning Should Include Accessibility Technology

23 Feb 2021 | news

The end of the financial year is fast approaching. Come March 31st, all public sector companies will be rolling out their budgets and development plans for the rest of 2021 and into 2022, and web accessibility provisions should absolutely be part of that. Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a significant rise in public sector organisations that use our web accessibility software. In the last 6 months alone we have seen a 20% increase in the need for online support. Making sure a website is accessible and inclusive to all users is important for any business, but by the very nature of the services offered and the functions served by public sector bodies, it is arguably even more important for them. 2021 has already been dubbed ‘The Year of Accessibility’. Digital inclusion factors rank high in priorities for business development, and with more and more people relying upon online information, those in the public sector are under increasing pressure to keep their users updated with all of the relevant information and news. Why is Website Accessibility So Important in the Public Sector? Looking towards the next financial year, public sector bodies need to be aware of a number of factors that affect digital accessibility… Equal Access to information We tend to think of the internet as a place where everyone has instant access to the information they need at all times, but that’s simply not the case. Here in the UK one in five people has a disability that means they struggle to access information online. Examples include: Visual impairments Learning difficulties Literacy and language barriers Neurological disorders Developmental disorders Physical disabilities Temporary disabilities Customers in Vulnerable Circumstances Any customers who struggle with one or more of the issues listed above can be considered vulnerable, as any inequality in access to information leads to an inequality of access to services. Plus, in challenging circumstances, vulnerability levels increase and those with accessibility needs fall further through the cracks as they struggle to keep up to date with changing information. Our Aging Population As the ageing population increases, so does the percentage of the entire population with disabilities, visual impairments, and hearing loss. The internet gives elderly people the ability to connect with relatives and friends on a regular basis and is an important tool in allowing senior citizens to lead independent lives. Helping Self-Serving Accounts With the continued closure of many retail outlets and points of face-to-face service, call centre teams are struggling to service the influx of callers. Wait times have been at an all-time high, and many consumers have struggled to reach an operator at all. Providing more practical and efficient ways for customers to communicate online can help avoid situations like this. Public Sector Accessibility Laws The government expects that public sector websites and mobile apps meet accessibility standards by complying with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. The deadline for compliance was September 23rd 2020, yet recent research showed that 40% of local authority websites’ home pages still aren’t accessible to people with disabilities, and far too many other public sector websites don’t meet baseline accessibility standards either. The COVID-19 Effect With many people confined to their homes, it has never been more critical that websites take into account all users, including those with disabilities and accessibility barriers. Essentially, this has changed the priority of web accessibility to be something that has to be done, rather than something that should be done. 2020 Toolbar Usage During 2020 Recite Me could directly see the impact Covid19 was having on people accessing information online. This could be seen through a surge in toolbar usage with over 100,000 pages being made available to people with access needs in July alone. Throughout the year toolbar usage increased by 55%. Public Sector Data Trends Providing accessible websites is the best way to guarantee inclusion and ensure consumers do not become more vulnerable or excluded from the information, services, and support networks they need. Recite Me is here to help all public sector businesses and organisations to communicate information more effectively by making websites accessible and inclusive of all users. Over the last calendar year, we have helped many different organisations within the public sector to achieve this. Education To help education institutions provide an inclusive experience, we can install our assistive toolbar across the full digital landscape of educational organisations, not only the main website. This ensures that more people can access and modify the content in a way that makes it useful and usable. We’re proud to assist a number of colleges and universities, including: York University Sunderland University University of Cranfield New College Durham London University As people switched to online learning in 2020, Recite Me saw a spike in toolbar usage soar to over 18,000 unique users in May, an increase of 50% from January. Over the past 12 months, a staggering 625,000 toolbar launches were made, allowing users to view over 3.7million educational web pages. “The University of London is committed to providing an inclusive and accessible online experience. Recite Me enables us to provide additional online tools and services for those visiting our website and increase the level of accessibility quickly and easily.” Mark Harrison, Head of Inclusion, University of London Local Authority Local authorities are responsible for a wide range of community provisions, including housing, traffic schemes, voting systems, recreation, environmental projects, and amenities like rubbish collection. Without adequate online information about all of these services, residents are left in the dark about rules, regulations, and what is going on in their communities. We already work with a growing number of local authorities, including: Sefton Council West Devon Borough Council South Hams District Council Torridge District Council Comhairle County Council Preston City Council Recite Me Toolbar Usage across Public Sector websites At the start of the first lockdown, Recite Me usage on local authority sites increased by 87% between February to June and continued to increase steadily throughout 2020. The latest figures suggest usage by over 95,000 unique users accessing nearly half a million barrier-free web pages using Recite Me. “We really want to meet the needs of the people who live and work in Preston, and we believe the tools Recite me offer helps us achieve this.” Ian Heslop, Digital and Web Manager, Preston Councils Public Services Having access to public sector services like the police, fire brigade and ambulance are essential to the wellbeing of our society, and even more essential is the opportunity for equal access. The Recite Me toolbar already assists many public service organisations, including: Ireland’s National Police and Security Service Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service Scottish Ambulance Service "It is hugely important for us as an organisation to be accessible to the public we serve. Our website holds a lot of information which everyone should be able to access easily. Thanks to the Recite Me Toolbar, we have made vast strides in making our website more accessible”. Clare Kelly, Chief Executive, Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Health Services Health services across the UK are in high demand due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Their websites are the gateway where people can access vital health information during a time where people are unable to leave their homes. Therefore it is paramount that this information is easily accessible. With over 20 NHS organisations using Recite Me, we can see clearly the demand for web accessibility support in this sector. Over 50,000 people have used Recite Me accessibility and language options to aid their online journey. Organisations we support include: Public Health Wales The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust How Accessibility Technology Helps Software like the Recite Me assistive toolbar promotes inclusivity by allowing people to access websites 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 Text-to-speech functions in 35 languages Having text read aloud at varying speeds A real-time translation feature catering to over 100 languages A built-in dictionary and thesaurus A “text-only” mode that strips away graphics and other page clutter These functions account for singular alterations and also more complex scenarios where users may require multiple adjustments for ease of use. By facilitating this, website owners are able to remove barriers and allow for equal access for everyone. Is website Accessibility on YOUR list of priorities for your 2022 budget? We hope so! If you’d like more information about our web accessibility services, please feel free to get in touch with our team for an informal chat about how we can help. Alternatively, you can book an online demo of our toolbar in action. Together, we can make a difference and provide everyone with equal access to vital information online.

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Inaccessible Websites Linked to Financial Vulnerability

16 Feb 2021 | news

Managing personal finances is one of the most important aspects of daily life. Most of us look to online solutions for banking, buying products and services, and paying bills. We also use the internet to search for and apply for new jobs. So, it should come as no surprise that access barriers to these services and information will lead to increased levels of vulnerability. Add to this that in 2021 in particular, households are reeling from the effects of the previous year and many are already facing a degree of financial struggle. Lots of people have lost their jobs, others have taken pay cuts, and some have lost entire businesses. Put simply, people need access to financial help and support more than ever, and those in vulnerable circumstances are the worst affected. Most of us take it for granted that we have access to the information and services we need online, but for those who battle with decreased vision, physical disabilities, learning difficulties, attention disorders, autism, and a whole host of language and literacy issues, life just isn’t that easy. Recite Me’s website accessibility solutions are here to help businesses and organisations to communicate information more effectively with vulnerable consumers by making websites accessible and inclusive to all users. Understanding Online Vulnerability In challenging circumstances, vulnerability levels increase and financial situations worsen, as any inequality in access to information leads to an inequality of access to services. There have always been vulnerable citizens who have found themselves at a disadvantage in the online world. So first of all, let’s make it clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is not the sole cause of soaring vulnerability levels. It has, however, acted as a catalyst and highlighted the need for significant change. With many other lines of communication blocked or prone to long delays, websites must be accessible so that everyone can access the information that is relevant to their needs – and act upon it accordingly. “The technology of consumer engagement is changing and moving online more and more. As a result, vulnerable customers need to be supported. Recite Me is calling on all businesses to ensure their websites are accessible. We look forward to seeing more companies using web accessibility software like Recite Me to safeguard and support customers in vulnerable circumstances.” Recite Me Founder and CEO Ross Linnett Website Accessibility is for Everyone It is worth noting at this point that it’s not just those with recognised disabilities and disorders that benefit from website accessibility software. In several more temporary circumstances such as bereavement or divorce, people become more vulnerable in general and may simply struggle to register or understand information. So the clearer and easier to access it is, the better for everyone. The Financial Conduct Authority on Vulnerability The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the regulator for 58,000 financial services firms and financial markets in the UK. Its main role is to protect consumers, keep the industry stable, and promote healthy competition between financial service providers. Part of the FCA’s role includes advising on web accessibility factors to ensure that vulnerable consumers do not fall through the cracks. “Failure to communicate with vulnerable consumers in ways they can understand may result in an increased risk of [financial] harm. Consumers may not be able to understand the information they are sent or may struggle to communicate their needs. Low capability or physical impairments may result in particular communication needs. Several factors can drive low capability, including low literacy, numeracy, poor knowledge of financial products and cognitive impairments. Physical conditions can also result in particular communication needs. For example, sight and hearing impairments can make certain channels of communication impossible to use and alternative accessible formats essential.” The Financial Conduct Authority Report, July 2020 FCA guidelines make it clear that vulnerable consumers should not be disadvantaged in understanding or accessing products and services because of their information needs. How Companies Can Improve Web Accessibility to Support Vulnerable Customers The most recent report published by the FCA provides guidance for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers. Key points relating to web accessibility issues include recommendations that businesses should: Ensure all communications and information about products and services are understandable for consumers in their target market and customer base. Take the individual needs of each vulnerable customer into account. Provide simplified versions of communications Provide large print accessible websites Include audio options for online information Proactively offer consumers communication options that can meet their needs. Respond to the needs of vulnerable consumers at all stages of the customer journey. Web Design that Promotes Digital Inclusion The FCA also encourages companies to take an inclusive design approach that meets the needs of their vulnerable customers specifically, as well as the majority of consumers in their target market in general. Most good web designers can advise on a build that makes content more accessible. This means including design features that ensure the needs of vulnerable customers are met, while at the same time benefitting a wider range of consumers on the whole. There are many factors to consider, a few key examples being: Using a content management system that supports accessibility Using headings correctly to structure your content Including alt text for all images Giving descriptive names to your links Being mindful of colour use and colour contrasts Ensuring forms are designed for accessibility Being keyboard friendly How Recite Me Accessibility Technology Can Help Abiding by best practices and guidelines to make your website more accessible is great, but won’t necessarily make it inclusive. Recite Me is a cloud-based web accessibility solution which allows consumers to customise your website in a way that works best for them. By installing Recite Me technology, you can essentially upgrade your well designed, accessible website and make it truly inclusive to all users. All of the FCA recommendations listed above can be taken into account by functions on the Recite Me assistive toolbar. Examples include the ability to: Personalise font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read. Download content as an audio file as an alternative to reading. Convert text into over 100 different on-screen languages. Access text to speak functions in 35 different languages. Have text read aloud at varying speeds in either a male or female voice. Utilise a screen mask and ruler for better focus. Make use of the toolbar’s built-in dictionary and thesaurus. Switch to “text-only” mode to strip away graphics and page clutter. If you’d like more information on how your organization can make a positive change towards inclusion by utilising assistive technology, please contact our team or book a real-time demonstration of our toolbar. Together, we can make a difference and provide everyone with equal opportunities online.

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DC SAFE

15 Feb 2021 | case-study

DC SAFE began its mission against Domestic Violence in 1997 and in 2006 became an independent non-profit organization and is now proud to be a leader in providing support for empowerment for thousands of survivors each year.

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DC SAFE commit to providing accessible services online

15 Feb 2021 | news

Disability isn’t always obvious, and it can present in many different ways. To enable everyone visiting the DC Safe website to access services and content barrier-free they now provide a suite of inclusive options. DC SAFE began its mission against Domestic Violence in 1997 and in 2006 became an independent non-profit organization and is now proud to be a leader in providing support for empowerment for thousands of survivors each year. With the intersections that exist between disability and domestic violence, DC SAFE is aware of the importance of making vital support information accessible. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, people with disabilities experience violent crime at 2x the rate of people without disabilities. To reinforce DC SAFE's commitment to accessibility they have added the Recite Me Toolbar across their digital landscape to improve the online experience for everyone. Recite Me Accessibility and language support provide DC Safe website visits with a range of tools including screen reading functionality, multiple styling options, reading aids, and a live translation feature that offers over 100 languages including 35 text to speech. Jennifer Wesberry, Director of Operations, DC SAFE commented, “It is incredibly important that DC SAFEs information get to the people that need it, Recite Me helps this happen. Survivors need access to accurate and timely information, without it decision-making can be hampered or dramatically limited and subsequently restrict full participation in the services available in their community. Recite Me helps us to meet this head-on, to ensure that individuals with disability and language access needs have options.”

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Assistive Technology: Who Needs It?

15 Feb 2021 | news

On an individual level, the short answer is about 20% of the population. This equates to a pretty staggering number – over 13 million people in the UK, and over 65 million in the US, for example. The internet can be a minefield for those with access barriers. On any given website, an access barrier can be any element of the design or formatting that prevents users from reading and understanding the content. The people who are most susceptible to access barriers are those who struggle with: Decreased vision Learning difficulties Literacy Language/linguistic problems Attention disorders Physical disabilities Assistive technology provides solutions and support for all of these, making the online world more inclusive and an equal playing field for everyone. So…Why Don’t ALL Companies Want to Provide Assistive Technology for Their Users? A fair question, given the possibility of adding to your market share with millions of new website visitors and customers. No matter what sector your organization sits in, ignoring 20% of the market is simply not good for business. Plus, there are other benefits to being inclusive, such as reduced legal risk and improved brand reputation. The two most common objections we hear from prospective clients are that “Our site users don’t need it” or “Those who need it will have their own technology already”. Yet we know from experience that neither of these statements is true. Busting Accessibility Myths The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that only 1 in 10 people have access to the assistive technology they need. For example, there are over 200 million people in the world with low vision who do not have access to assistive products to support them. “Assistive technology enables people to live healthy, productive, independent, and dignified lives, and to participate in education, the labour market and civic life. Without assistive technology, people are often excluded, isolated, and locked into poverty, thereby increasing the impact of disability on a person, their family, and society.” WHO, 2021 So, onwards to myth-busting…. 1. “Our Site Users Don’t Need It” Wrong! It’s a common reaction, mainly because many of the conditions that make websites inaccessible fall into the category of ‘hidden disabilities’, as they are not visible. Often, these conditions are kept purposefully hidden by those who have them for fear of drawing unwarranted attention to themselves or being discriminated against. This can be particularly true in the workplace environment. Let’s take dyspraxia as an example. Many people haven’t even heard of it, but it is a condition that affects around 10% of the population, and at least 3-4% in a significant way. So the chances are that within your website user base there will absolutely be individuals with dyspraxia who need to be supported. The same can be said of Dyslexia, Hyperlexia, and a myriad of other unseen conditions that impact on web accessibility. So rest assured, your users DO need assistive technology! A side note to employers: The average cost of adjusting for employee accessibility is typically just a few hundred pounds/dollars, and data shows that employees with disabilities take less time off and tend to stay with companies for longer. So any outlay is almost certainly recouped many times over. 2. “Those Who Need It Will Have Their Own Technology Already” Wrong again! Put simply, if people were able to - and preferred to - use their own assistive technology, we wouldn’t have seen the incredible increase in subscription coupled with the phenomenal rise in usage of the Recite Me toolbar over the last calendar year: Over 1.8 million unique users. Over 10 million pages viewed with Recite Me enabled. Over 47 million clicks on the Recite Me toolbar to use features like our screen reader, translation services, and styling features. Website users are deterred from using individual assistive technology tools for many reasons, including: Cost - At a time when those with disabilities can be particularly financially vulnerable, many simply can’t afford the technology that is required. For example, a single copy of JAWS (a computer screen reader program that assists the visually impaired) costs £800 without updates. From an ethical standpoint, should someone with a disability have to pay out of their own pocket to get the same access to information, services, and employment as everyone else? That’s a hard no from us! Usability - Individual assistive technology (such as JAWS) will work on only the device on which it is installed. With most people now moving between pc, mobile, and tablet devices on a regular basis, this is incredibly restrictive. Functionality - Unlike most other assistive tools, Recite Me remembers each individual user's preferences. So when they return to your site or any other site that hosts Recite Me, the toolbar will launch with personal preferences already installed thus providing continuity of user experience. Availability – Many internet users, and especially older users, are simply are not aware that solutions are available. “I think I faced more challenges when I was younger, as there wasn't the technology like today. I've just tried out the Recite Me toolbar to see how this would work for me, and it's very easy to use. What I particularly like about it, is that I can scroll over text and the words are read back to me, also you can change the language to suit your needs - that really stands out for me because no website that I know of has this feature." Michael McEwan, Freelance Journalist What Kinds of Business is Recite Me Good for? Every type of company and organization can benefit from Recite Me assistive technology. We work with businesses across all sectors, including e-commerce, finance, public sector, technology, education, utilities, transport, leisure and entertainment, sports, recruitment, and construction. Due to the very nature of our product, Recite Me is also very popular in the health and charity sectors. There are so many examples of people with disabilities reporting the vital need for assistive technology at a content level, that our technology has been assessed and tested by many disabled user groups prior to install. As a result, we work directly with many disability-specific charities who have adopted our technology after gathering extensive user feedback. You can see a full list of company testimonials here. What Recite Me Users Say One of our prospective clients commissioned the leading UK disability charity, to do some user testing on our toolbar. All participants said they would use the tool again and that they’d be more likely to use a website again if they knew that their accessibility needs were accommodated. Here are some of the user comments and feedback… “It doesn’t strain or hurt my eyes when I read now.” “It’s remembered my settings across different sites, I really like this” “It shows that they’ve given accessibility some thought, and that goes a long way with me.” “Being able to change the background to black is a real bonus for me - I get dry eyes so this extends the amount of time I can stay online.” “If a place I’m planning to visit has an accessible website, I think they are more likely to be accessible when I get there.” The Time for Accessibility is Now! The demand for accessible and inclusive websites has never been greater, so goal-setting for inclusion should be at the top of your company’s to-do list. Adopting an inclusive approach to your online services before your competitors will solidify your position as a market leader – and improve profits, customer service, and employee satisfaction at the same time. Recite Me is quick and easy to implement on your website, and can usually be installed in under an hour. Join the hundreds of companies who have already adopted our inclusive software by contacting our team for more information, or by booking a toolbar demonstration.

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