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Stay up to date with the latest client news, industry updates and events from Recite Me

Recite Me and Volcanic Partnership to Support an Inclusive Candidate Journey

29 Jun 2022 | news

Recite Me is delighted to announce a new partnership with Volcanic, the global leader in designing and building recruitment websites. Volcanic design and build recruitment and staffing websites for organisations all over the world on their market-leading SaaS platform. Built exclusively for recruiters, the platform has been developed to deliver the best candidate and client experiences. This partnership will provide Volcanic clients with the information, ideas, and support they need to create an inclusive experience online enabling all candidates to have equal access to job opportunities. 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 recruiters and employers can remove barriers for those with disabilities, visual impairments, learning difficulties and for those who speak English as a second language. Rachael Moss, Head of Marketing at Volcanic (Access Recruitment) commented “Volcanic is proud to be partnered with a business that makes such a positive difference for people who may face barriers online. Recite Me’s accessibility software is used by many Volcanic customers as a way to enable their candidates to personalise the experience of searching and applying for jobs on their website. In fact, we believe in the tool so much we have added it to our own website, as well the careers site of our parent company, The Access Group. We were thrilled to have Recite Me contribute to our latest eBook, Creating an Inclusive Candidate Experience on your Recruitment Website, and look forward to doing more great work together to influence much needed change in this area.” 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. With the Recite Me assistive toolbar 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. 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 mention that you are a Volcanic client.

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My Life with Dyslexia with Kerry Pocock

28 Jun 2022 | news

Dyslexia is something that affects approximately 10% of the world's population, yet there is still a gap in our digital world that prevents those with additional needs from accessing information and services in a way that works best for them. We caught up with Kerry Pocock, Wellbeing Champions Lead at Dorset HealthCare NHS Foundation Trust and Personal Development Coach, to discuss her own dyslexia and how it has affected her throughout her childhood and into her career. How did you find out you were dyslexic? My A level Geography teacher questioned it after I handed in another half finished essay. My English teacher through my whole senior school education (who had also been my form teacher for a couple of years) did not pick it up nor did any other teacher in the school. My parents paid for a private assessment as my school did not think it was worth it. I was 17 and just about to sit my A Level exams. This was in 1997 so I hope things have changed a bit since then for other students. How does dyslexia affect you? In lots of ways. My spelling is terrible. It's been a source of embarrassment for a lot of my life, but I have learnt to live with it, and just let it go. I found reading a real challenge through school. It took me forever to get through text that took other people 5 minutes, and I often (and still do) read what I think things say rather than what it actually says, I’ll see the beginning and end of a word and make assumptions. The time taken is still an issue if I have long papers or articles to read for my work, but I have also learned to enjoy reading for pleasure - but audio books are definitely my friend! I think if my dyslexia had been picked up when I was younger, I would have been able to get the right learning tools that would have impacted my education and decisions that I made in my working life. Though I try not to let it stop me doing what I want to do. Some people really don’t get it. Which I understand, if this stuff comes easily to you it would be hard to work out why people can't just ‘practice more’ or just be quicker. I think it's a bit like if you need to wear glasses – you can't just practice more at seeing clearly. You need things that help you. That said it is not always easy to articulate what is helpful. Verbal meetings over emails, and proofreading can be useful, but I have found that it’s important to have a good and trusting relationship with the person for that to be possible. It can be a real confident destroyer otherwise. Mostly it’s time. Being given longer to complete tasks that require reading or writing. But in today's world that is often not easy to provide. I remember once being told by a university lecturer that I was ‘doing really well considering I had dyslexia’ which I think was supposed to be supportive, but I just thought, I might not find academic studies, reading, writing and grammar easy, but the benefits of my dyslexia to me are that I am very creative, I am able to see and understand things in different ways to other people. Things like my special awareness is very high, I can solve puzzles and untangle things that others would just get frustrated with – and that is both practically – untying knots and also in the world of thought too! As a coach, people often say the work we do together helps them to become unstuck. What led you to adding ‘certified dyslexic’ to your email signature? A big part of my work is around supporting staff wellbeing in organisations, and as part of this, I work closely with the EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) leads. As I have worked hard to find techniques to help me with my dyslexia over the years it is something that people are often surprised by when I mention it (or at least they politely act surprised!). As part of an Inclusive wellbeing project we have worked with Recite Me to be able to include the accessibility toolbar to our staff wellbeing website in the coming months. I noticed one of the Recite Me team had a note on their email signature saying (VI - visual impairment, prone to typos) which I thought was a great idea. I often make errors in emails - where I type something that is not the word I mean to put, for example 'form instead of from' spell check would not pick up and I just don't see it when I read it back. It takes me longer than a non dyslexic person to check things and sometimes there just isn’t the time. This is also true when I use dictation software as again I still have to check it back. So I thought I would give it a go at adding something to my own email signature. It gives people the opportunity to understand my condition (if we call it that!) and also to ask me what I mean if things aren’t clear. Why is it important to Dorset ICS – Staff Wellbeing Service to provide online accessibility tools? Inclusivity for all of our staff is really important. Be that if English is not their first language (staff might have a good understanding of the vocabulary that their work requires but health and wellbeing might not be something that they speak in English about so being able to translate is important) or if they have challenges with reading or writing, learning disabilities or visual challenges. It is vital that the information is accessible to as many people as possible. Has the Recite Me toolbar helped you and if so how? I find the Recite Me toolbar really useful. It gives so many different options and is easy to navigate. The read aloud option is great. I find it quite tiring to read on screen, particularly longer text – I like that you can change the voice to Male or Female and also change the speed. The font change option – partially the ‘Open-Dyslexic’ font and the ability to edit the character spacing helps the characters to be clearer and ‘stay more still’ on the screen as with many other fonts they vibrate, or change depth which can make it really hard to keep your place – the ruler and the screen mask is really helpful for this! Also changing the background colours is useful too – again especially if my eyes are tired. So pretty much all of it.

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Supporting Learning Disabilities Online

20 Jun 2022 | news

Learning disabilities and learning difficulties are not the same thing. A learning disability is significant and lifelong. It starts before adulthood and affects a person’s development. This means that a person with a learning disability will be likely to need help to understand information, learn skills and live a fulfilling life. Some people with learning disabilities will also have healthcare needs and require support to communicate. Learning difficulties such as dyslexia, ADHD, dyspraxia, and hyperlexia can also create complications in daily activities. However, conditions like this don’t affect general intellect. For example, people with dyspraxia may find simple tasks like tying their shoelaces difficult. But this is a coordination and movement barrier, not an intellectual one. Likewise, people with dyslexia may struggle with spelling and reading, but this is not a marker of low intelligence. On the contrary, many dyslexics have superior skills when it comes to analytical and creative tasks. From the 20th through to the 26th, Recite Me is supporting Learning Disability Week. Join us as we learn more about learning disabilities and how we can help those affected to enjoy more inclusive online experiences. Learning Disabilities in the UK Statistics from Mencap suggest that there are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. That’s over 2% of the population. The level of support needed varies on an individual basis, and will depend on the severity of the learning disability and the combination of other disabilities or learning difficulties. It is possible, after all, for someone to have a learning disability and additional conditions. In fact, multiple conditions occur fairly frequently. It’s not uncommon for people with down’s syndrome or autism to have learning disabilities, for example. People with mild learning disabilities can lead full and independent lives and may only need assistance with things like finding a job and managing money. However, those with severe or multiple disabilities may need full-time care. Supporting Learning Disabilities Online People with learning disabilities may not be able to use a mouse, read the words on a website, or find their way around a busy screen. This means they are unable to participate in online activities that can directly affect their quality of life. Examples include: Shopping Banking Paying bills Applying for jobs Accessing general information Communicating with friends and family Barriers to accessing these services lead to further inequalities, increased vulnerability, and a higher chance of additional stress and mental health problems due to isolation and discrimination. “It is vital that we understand the needs of people who are excluded from society. It is only by focusing on their needs and rights, and working to remove the barriers they face, that people with learning disabilities will achieve their rightful place in society”. Mencap Charity Support There are several national charities and organisations that offer support and education to help people with learning disabilities, their parents, and their teachers: Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities The SCLD is committed to improving the lives of people with learning disabilities in Scotland by giving them a voice and the opportunity to be respected and included. The charity works closely with the Scottish Government to deliver The Keys to Life strategy. Adult Learning Wales Adult learning Wales focuses on the importance of removing barriers for people living with learning disabilities. They provide funding, courses, and support to help more people with learning disabilities into the job market. The National Centre for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) The NCLD has been improving the lives of young people with learning disabilities for over 40 years. Their goal is to create a society where everyone is included and provided with the academic, social, and emotional support they need to succeed in life. The National Institute for Learning Development (NILD) The NILD offers a range of one-on-one and small-group courses and workshops, geared towards helping educators understand and better meet the needs of students with learning disabilities. Assistive Technology The Recite Me assistive toolbar removes barriers for people with learning disabilities by allowing them to fully customise a webpage so it meets their individual needs. Features include: A screen mask to help with focus and concentration. Options to have content read aloud in over 35 different languages to negate reading difficulties. Full control over the speed at which the text is read aloud to allow for varying auditory preferences. Customisation options for text font, colour, sizing, and spacing, so that the look of the webpage can be tailor-made into the perfect format for every individual. A spell-checker and a fully integrated dictionary and thesaurus to help with comprehension. "The Recite Me tool has been really helpful in ensuring users can browse our websites without the need for specialist accessibility software. The toolbar’s extensive range of features means everyone, no matter what their needs are, can access our information. Libby Clement, Digital Communications Officer, SCLD How Accessible Websites Help Charities Our most recent 12-month stats from our charity and not-for-profit clients show that: Over 1.4 million pages have been viewed using the Recite Me toolbar. 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 31,000+ times every month on the websites of charities and not-for-profits. Over 389,000 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 over 2.4 million pieces of content translated. If you’d like more information on how your organisation can improve inclusion by utilising assistive technology, please contact our team or book a real-time demonstration of our toolbar. Together, we can make a positive difference and provide equal opportunities online. Get Involved in Learning Disabilities Week The last year has been challenging for many people, and especially so for people with learning disabilities and their families. The theme of this year’s Learning Disability Week is Living Life with a Learning Disability to show how people are reconnecting with friends and their communities following the end of COVID restrictions and to provide a platform to talk about the issues many people are still facing. You can find more information, resources, and activities on Mencap’s Learning Disabilities Week website.

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Empower Candidates at the IHR Diversity & Inclusion Conference

14 Jun 2022 | news

Recite Me is delighted to be an official event partner of the In-house Recruitment (IHR) Diversity & Inclusion Conference on Thursday 16th June. An opportunity to provide insights on how to support a diverse range of candidates to find their dream career online. To get ahead of the curve, and kickstart your journey to provide an inclusive recruitment process download our Accessibility and Inclusion Guide. In-house Recruitment Diversity & Inclusion Conference The conference is hosted by IHR, the largest and most engaged community for In-house Recruiters in the UK, they have a community of over 20,000 people. Taking place in London, the conference will be a fantastic opportunity to learn everything there is to know about unbiased recruitment, inclusion strategy, disability, and many more valuable topics. The day is going to be jam-packed with inspiring speaker sessions, expert guidance, and strategic round table sessions. Attendees will walk away from the day with a multitude of valuable insights and knowledge to drive their D&I strategy forward! We are very excited to be hosting our own round table sessions throughout the day to discuss inclusive recruitment. Martin Robertson, UK&I Country Manager, and Keith Moutter, Senior Sales Executive will be leading the conversation. Book your conference ticket here - we can’t wait to see you there. Why is Inclusive Recruitment Important? Implementing and innovating a diversity and inclusion strategy has never been so important and inclusive recruitment plays a vital role in this. 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. To find out more about how to provide an inclusive recruitment journey contact us.

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Recite Me and REC Announce Partnership to Support a Digitally Inclusive Candidate Journey

07 Jun 2022 | news

Recite Me is proud to announce a new partnership with Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) - a professional body that drives standards and empowers recruitment businesses to build better futures for their candidates and themselves. REC provides mentoring and support on business planning and development, finances and technology, people and culture, and diversity and inclusion, to help organisations grow in the right way. From annual conferences to the REC Awards, REC brings all corners of the recruitment industry together. This partnership will provide REC members with the information, ideas, and support they need to create an inclusive experience online enabling all candidates to have equal access to job opportunities. 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 help remove barriers for those with disabilities, visual impairments, learning difficulties, and for those who speak English as a second language. Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC commented, “Making sure jobs are accessible to all potential candidates is vital for recruiters. We hope this partnership with Recite Me will allow more firms to do just that. Getting it right will help with sourcing the best candidates for a role, whatever their background and personal circumstances – while ensuring every candidate has a positive experience will contribute to both the recruiter’s and their client’s brand value.” 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. With the Recite Me assistive toolbar 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. 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 mention that you are a member of REC.

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6 Reasons Why Making Your Website Accessible Is The Right Thing To Do

06 Jun 2022 | news

If you could make some simple changes to your website that would benefit one in four of your visitors, wouldn’t you? Even though our world is increasingly connected, not everyone has equal access to online resources. Persons living with a disability may not be able to view, navigate, or understand your website. Web accessibility is one of the most important things you can do for the online community and your customers. Accessibility is an important step in building a more inclusive website for the digital community and will make your website an experience everyone can enjoy. While enhancing accessibility can seem like a daunting task, implementing these tools and resources is worth the work. “The one argument for accessibility that doesn’t get made nearly often enough is how extraordinarily better it makes some people’s lives. How many opportunities do we have to dramatically improve people’s lives just by doing our job a little better?” Steve Krug, a prominent website user experience expert. Recite Me assistive technology provides your customers with the online tools they need to understand and engage with your products and services. It also allows you to support people who are neurodiverse, visually impaired, speak English as a second language, or are of old age. So, using our software isn’t just the smart thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. Here is why… 14 million people have vision impairments in the United States Because web experiences are essentially visual, the internet is full of websites, tools, and apps that are practically unusable for individuals with visual impairments. Users with visual impairments should not have to adapt their behavior to effectively accomplish their goals. Rather, each site should effectively accommodate the needs of all users, including those with visual impairments. 20% of the US population has a learning difficulty While 20 percent of the population might sound like a small percentage, this number represents over 65 million individuals in the United States who have learning or attention impairments. The most common is dyslexia, which affects an estimated 1 in 10 people. It impacts various levels of comprehension including speech, reading, writing, and spelling. 67.3 million residents in the United States speak another language As a melting pot, the US is full of many different cultures and languages from all over the world. Over 16 percent of the total population speaks a second language. This often means that a significant percentage of the population runs into obstacles while trying to navigate a website that is not their dominant language. In today’s digital age, everyone uses the website to find out information, and providing multiple language options is crucial. One in four people have a disability Despite that nearly 26 percent of the population in the United States has a disability, website accessibility is rarely a consideration when developers create websites and apps. People with disabilities affected by website inaccessibility can have varying degrees of auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual impairments. It is important to have accessible online content that includes everyone and doesn’t leave out anyone in receiving the message. 46 million US residents are 65 and older Using the internet can prove to be difficult for many people. Whether it’s going through pages of content to find a single quote or searching for the perfect gift, the web can be complicated. As the aging population increases in the United States, so does the percentage of the population with disabilities and visual impairments. So more accessible websites are required to teach this part of the community so that the elderly do not become excluded online or miss out on valuable information and services. 1 in 8 adults are affected by hearing loss Deafness, hearing loss, and being hard of hearing are some of the most common disabilities in the United States and worldwide, yet there are still many misconceptions surrounding hearing disabilities – including that there are many different levels of hearing. Add this to the fact that many who suffer from hearing loss may also be older, speak English as a second language, or have a learning difficulty and the need for having more accessible websites becomes even clearer. How Does Recite Me Assistive Technology Cater to All Accessibility Needs? Recite Me assistive technology gives users the ability to fully customize the look of a website for personal ease of use. Our toolbar includes a number of accessibility features that can be used individually or combined to make multiple adjustments and therefore account for all access barriers: Personalization of font size, type, spacing, and color options to make each page easier to read. A screen mask tool that isolates parts of the page to help with focus. A “text-only” mode that strips away any media and/or graphics and allows users to reposition text on the screen. Additional reading aids such as an on-screen ruler. A language converter that can translate text into over 100 different on-screen languages. Options to download content as an audio file. Text can be read aloud at different speeds with either a male or a female voice. Text-to-speech functions in 65 languages. A built-in dictionary and thesaurus to check word definitions. Want to Know More? To date, we have installed our software on over 3,700 websites across various industry sectors, so we have the knowledge and experience needed to guide you through the process and make your transition towards inclusion a seamless one. Contact our team today for further information and to learn more about how to provide an inclusive and custom experience for your website users. You can also book a demonstration of our toolbar.

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Breaking Down Online Barriers at The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank

02 Jun 2022 | news

The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank has provided food and resources for its community since 1984. Nearly 40 years later, it has become one of the first food banks in the country to implement Recite Me language and accessibility tools, providing inclusive support for everyone. We had the opportunity to chat about the importance of an accessible food bank website with Kristen Bellatti, Communications and Donor Relations Coordinator at the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. Please tell me a bit about the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank and your role as Communications and Donations Coordinator. The mission of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank is to feed the hungry in Baton Rouge and the surrounding parishes by providing food and educational outreach through faith-based and other community partners. We have served our 11-parish (county) service area for 35 years. Between frequent changes in technology and tried-and-true methods, I tailor communications to meet the needs of our audience. Information on receiving food, agency resources, volunteering, or donating needs to be accessible to every person in our community. Why are accessibility and inclusion important for your organization? Digital accessibility is equally important as physical accessibility such as wheelchair ramps. Of the parishes we serve, as many as 20% of the population 65 and older have a disability. With Recite Me, there is no reason information cannot be available for this part of our community. How does Recite Me help the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank further its mission? For those who either struggled with accessing the information on our website or through our mobile app, Recite Me provides visual and auditory customization each user can change for their individual needs. People who needed food assistance the most who were not able to access the information in past are now able to get the information they need. How did you find Recite Me and why did you choose to partner with us? I came across Recite Me while using another website. I clicked on the Recite Me button out of sheer curiosity and realized what a great tool it could be for those who could benefit from it. What does the future hold for the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank? My plan for the Food Bank is to build on the channels of communication we currently have and to develop new channels to stay current with technology. The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank will continue to support its community for many years to come.

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Creating an Accessible Daily Commute with Hovertravel

31 May 2022 | news

Hovertravel is on a mission to ensure travel is accessible to all. Hovertravel is the first cross-Solent ferry company to provide Recite Me accessibility and language tools online to enable all customers to book and travel with ease. We caught up with Mark Carter, Head of IT at Hovertravel to find out a bit more about the importance of accessible travel and how COVID has accelerated the need to be inclusive. Please tell us a bit about Hovertravel Hovertravel started in 1965 and is the world’s only year-round passenger hovercraft service. The company operates a service between Southsea, Portsmouth to Ryde on the Isle of Wight, with as many as 70 flights per day.The two hovercraft in our fleet are 78-seater, fully accessible 12000 TDs which complete the journey in under ten minutes. Hovertravel is used by different people for different reasons: we carry passengers, patients and post. We are used by commuters, school children, teachers, and key workers who travel every day. We carry people who wish to enjoy a day trip or longer on either side of the Solent and patients with hospital appointments as well as medical professionals traveling between facilities. During the pandemic we developed an award-winning rapid off-island stretcher patient transfer with the NHS and ambulance service. We also carry freight which is needed urgently such as replacement car windscreens and time-limited pharmaceutical products, alongside working with the Royal Mail since 1978. What is your accessibility mission for this year and beyond, could you tell me a bit about the accessibility grant you received? We launched our accessibility initiative in 2016, called HoverCare, and this is now an ongoing work stream which includes specialist training, community outreach, structural improvements and service enhancements. Hovertravel is one of just two companies in the country to be awarded Leader status in the government’s Inclusive Transport Leader Scheme. We were awarded part of a £1 million grant aimed specifically at lifeline ferries and seaports serving the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly. We applied for a broad variety of facility improvements, including a Changing Places toilet at Southsea, an enhanced exit to the pad at Southsea, assistive technology for our website and a lift for our terminal at Ryde. We are also upgrading our hearing loops, the handrails on our hovercraft craft and have a stock of mobility aids at each terminal. How has COVID accelerated the need for accessibility tools in the travel industry? COVID made us review how we can provide our HoverCare service through our digital platforms and we looked at how we can translate our award-winning in-person customer service onto our website. Whilst we moved some of the engagement online, such as holding open days with customer Q&As online, we recognised that we needed better tools. Why was it important to Hovertravel to provide an inclusive online experience and how does Recite Me support this? Hovertravel’s aim, through its accessibility initiative HoverCare, is to provide hovercraft travel for all and with our online bookings varying between 50% and 70% of all bookings, it is essential that our technology is fully inclusive. Our research revealed that while there were several systems which provided the bare minimum of tools, it was Recite Me which demonstrated a full understanding of the challenges faced by some customers and who had developed a suite of customisable options to suit the widest variety of abilities. The feedback we received when asking about accessibility tools identified that some providers used them as a ‘rubber stamp’ to claim accessibility in a tick-box exercise, whereas Hovertravel has accessibility as a vital consideration with all developments. The IT team and our external developers are always looking for ways to i,prove accessibility and are heavily involved with the promotion of existing enhancements as well as planning future developments to add to HoverCare.

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Accessible Air Travel for Disabled Passengers

30 May 2022 | news

Everyone should have the same opportunities to travel. Yet, when it comes to flying, the needs of disabled passengers are often neglected at every customer touchpoint. With the world slowly reopening and travel and visa restrictions lifting, many of us are already booking trips and looking forward to some much-needed summer sun and foreign forays after a couple of years of limited accessibility. For most of us, that limited accessibility has been a temporary inconvenience. But for passengers with disabilities, it’s nothing new. 5 Key Air Travel Accessibility Takeaways Accessibility factors should be a strategic priority for leading airports and airlines. Accessibility adjustments should include solutions for passengers with both physical and hidden disabilities. For many passengers, accessibility issues begin from the very first time they click on a travel website. There are extra logistical considerations for disabled passengers. Lack of information and assistance is discriminatory, inhibits sales, and demonstrates poor service. Airports and airlines providing Recite Me accessibility technology support thousands of unique people to access vital travel information barrier-free. What is Accessible Air Travel? Physical access plays a significant role, and every airport and airline should be doing as much as possible to meet the needs of passengers with mobility issues. But that’s not the whole story. It’s estimated that 1 in every 5 people has some sort of disability, including hidden disabilities like vision problems, neurological differences, cognitive impairments, language issues, and learning difficulties. In addition to accommodating physical needs, airports and airlines must provide appropriate digital assistance for passengers with a range of hidden disabilities, whose issues often begin way before they reach the plane. Join us as we take a look at the entire passenger journey from all accessibility standpoints. Booking and Checking-in Online For many passengers, accessibility issues begin from the very first time they click on a travel website. Globally, airport and airline websites receive millions of clicks every day, and the diversity of site visitors is incredibly wide-ranging. Research shows that 82% of pre-pandemic travel bookings were made online via a mobile app or website without human interaction. In the post-pandemic world, this figure is likely to be even higher. You’d probably think that’s a good thing. Online booking is quick, easy, and efficient, after all. But while that may be the case for many people, it’s not as straightforward for passengers with disabilities. Common Website Problems Lack of information is a barrier in its own right, and for many internet users, travel websites are simply not accessible: Text and Fonts - People with vision problems like partial blindness and deafblindness cannot read information online when the font type, sizing, and spacing are not suitable. Many price comparison tables and calendars on travel sites use small font sizes that are too small to read. Navigation - Those with physical disabilities or conditions like Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, or Multiple Sclerosis have decreased upper body motor function and cannot navigate websites that are not keyboard friendly. Many booking forms are missing labels, making it impossible to purchase flight tickets without assistance. Graphics and Images - Epileptic website visitors may be triggered by flashing images promoting ‘hot deals’ or carousels of fast-moving images that cannot be removed. Formatting - Website visitors with learning difficulties like ADHD and hyperlexia cannot find the information they need on poorly formatted web pages. Colour Contrasts - For people with conditions like dyslexia and colour blindness, availability calendars on flight booking websites have inadequate contrast between the text, headers, and background, making it impossible to understand what dates are available. Languages - People who speak English as a second language cannot adequately understand the content. Without a translation option, they will simply leave the page and book with a competitor. Captions and Alt Tags - Deaf website visitors are denied information when on-page video content is not presented with captions. Plus, many website visitors rely on alt tags on images for additional information and content. Yet, you’d be surprised how many images are simply named ‘JPEG00462’ rather than having a title that provides context and adds value. On top of this, there are extra logistical considerations for disabled passengers. For example, few websites offer a clear way to book additional space for a wheelchair, or solutions on how to get around paying a whole extra fare to pay for another passenger to assist them. "I don’t know about you, but I prefer talking to a real person when I book my travel tickets. The reason being online bookings often don’t allow you to specifically book a disabled wheelchair space. Booking flights online can also be a disaster. In some cases, you have to get the dimensions of your wheelchair. And if you are like me and are unable to walk, flying without a companion is a case of: THE COMPUTER SAYS HELL NO! Why is this? Sam Renke, Actress and Disability Campaigner What Effect Does This Have on Disabled Passengers? First and foremost, it stops people from booking. Not to mention, it's incredibly poor service and can be a humiliating experience for passengers. Yes, online booking should be possible, and it should work equally well for everyone. But there also needs to be easily accessible alternative methods of purchase. “The flexibility needs to be there for customers to communicate in their preferred way. Businesses should be empowering customers by giving them choice, rather than making them ask for alternatives or work harder to get responses. “ Caroline Wells, CEO, Different Petal How Recite Me Can Help Our assistive toolbar includes styling options that allow website visitors to personalise font size, type, and colour options to make information easier to read. They can also select text-only mode to strip away graphics and page clutter, and use a screen mask and ruler for better focus. Navigating the Airport Airports are complicated and challenging environments at the best of times, and even more so for travellers with disabilities. Common problems faced include: Long waiting times for assistance Lack of staff awareness Low-quality service For airports looking to improve their service levels for disabled passengers, these should be the top priorities: Becoming wheelchair friendly – Having a dedicated desk for mobility enquiries, wheelchair access throughout the airport, adequate disabled parking, and wheelchair-accessible telephones and toilet facilities. Providing services for travellers with cognitive impairments – Enable pre-visits for familiarisation, create quiet zones, and implement a simple identification scheme (like lanyards) so staff can easily identify passengers who need additional support. Adapting for visual and hearing impairments – Be guide dog friendly, install induction loops, make sure telephones are hearing compatible, and provide signage in braille. Providing better staff training – All airport and airline staff should be trained to understand a range of customer needs and help passengers with varied abilities. Being digitally inclusive – Allow ALL passengers to stay up to date with check-in times, flight times, itinerary changes, delays, etc. on websites and apps, and provide equal access to information on additional services like car parking, left luggage, and lounge access, etc. Recording and reporting performance data – Without knowing what works well and what doesn’t, you can’t make more improvements. Flying Boarding the aircraft, finding the right seat, stowing luggage, and going to the toilet can be complicated - and often embarrassing - for disabled passengers. "Not only is it humiliating being left last to board a flight and be wheeled past other passengers who glare because they realise you have been the one to delay the flight. But once you are on, you can’t go to the toilet as they are too small for a wheelchair to enter." Sam Renke, Actress and Disability Campaigner The corporate solutions to this are straightforward. Design better processes that are inclusive of everyone, and make the necessary logistical adaptions. Unfortunately, in the meantime, the onus is on passengers to research their airline in advance to find out: If their wheelchair dimensions fit the plane schematics How much support is available What types of assistance need to be pre-booked Of course, finding this type of information is not easy on inaccessible websites, hence the even greater need for digital inclusion in the research and booking process. When Abroad Travelling overseas presents a number of physical and digital barriers to everyone, not just disabled passengers. But with the odds of equality already stacked against them, passengers with disabilities often have to spend more of their holiday time and energy finding solutions. Common problems include: Communication - Nobody can speak every language (although that would be a cool superpower!), so translation assistance is a given. With more information needed about disability-friendly attractions and services than other visitors, this can be time-consuming. Local Websites – Whether you’re in Spain, France or Outer Mongolia, you can expect local websites to be written in the local language. Without on-page translation assistance, this makes fact-finding and information checking hard. That’s the beauty of software assistance like Recite Me. Once a company embeds our toolbar on their site, visitors have access to on-screen translation in 100 languages and text-to-speech in 35 languages. Transfers and Facilities – Is there space for wheelchairs on the transfer bus? A ramp into the hotel lobby? A lift up to the rooftop bar? Disabled toilet facilities at local entertainment venues? Are the excursions all accessible? All of these questions take additional time to research so passengers can make informed decisions about which services and facilities are right for them. Organisations Leading the Way We are proud to work with several organisations in the aviation sector already, including: Nashville International Airport Orlando International Airport Gatwick Airport Heathrow Airport London City Airport Airports providing Recite Me accessibility technology support thousands of unique people to access vital travel information barrier-free. When the toolbar is activated, people view an average of almost 5 pages per ses sion, over double the overall internet average. London City Airport: A Case Study The Recite Me toolbar has supported over 10,000 people on the London City Airport website over the past year, helping people with accessibility needs access over 15,500 pages of content. "We’re always looking to improve the visitor experience at London City Airport, whether at our airport or on our website. Recite Me allows us to provide all of our visitors with the same amazing service on the website as they would in person." Dorota Zielinska, Digital Marketing Manager, London City Airport In addition to making their website a more inclusive space, the team at London City is also improving on-site service by making it easier for passengers to manage their visits and request special assistance. Their website states clearly all of the information passengers with disabilities may need, including: Getting to and from the airport Getting around the airport Accessible parking Mobility equipment Human and support dog assistance Staff training Performance data Learn More​ You can find details of all the transport organisations that use Recite Me software on our sector pages, and read more about who needs assistive technology and what people say about it in our previous news articles. Alternatively, you can contact our team for further information and advice or book a live demonstration of our toolbar.

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Accessibility Success in 2022: How Businesses Can Make a Difference

26 May 2022 | news

Last week Recite Me hosted our very own webinar in celebration of the 11th Global Accessibility Awareness Day. We are delighted to say the session went amazingly and we were thrilled to get so many people together to raise awareness and learn more about the importance of digital accessibility. Over 300 people from across the globe tuned in to learn about digital accessibility. During the session our expert panel shared their experiences, valuable insights, and best practice tips to improve business accessibility. Martin Robertson, Recite Me UK&I Country Manager was joined by: Mike Adams, CEO, Purple Sean Allen, Head of Talent Acquisition, Very Lynn Gilmour, Communications Officer, Children in Scotland At the end of the webinar, each member of the panel provided the audience with their key takeaway from the session. Watch the full webinar recording below to see what they said. When answering the fantastic audience questions at the end of the webinar we did not have time to get through all of them. So, we have created a post-webinar document that answers the questions, includes contact information for the panelists, and summarises the statistics and facts we shared during the session. Download our webinar follow-up document here.

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Living with Dyslexia, Leng Montgomery, Senior DE&I Consultant at Charlotte Sweeney Associates

20 May 2022 | news

Yesterday marked Global Accessibility Awareness Day, an annual occasion to get everyone thinking and learning about digital accessibility, diversity and inclusion. Dyslexia is something close to our hearts here at Recite Me, we see value in sharing experiences to ensure others don’t feel alone. We caught up with Leng Montgomery, a Senior DE&I Consultant at Charlotte Sweeney Associates, to discuss his personal experiences with dyslexia and the importance of providing support. How would you define dyslexia? I define dyslexia as being something I have whereby I can’t always read or write in a clear way. It also means that you can’t always tell what is wrong or incorrect. Having dyslexia doesn’t take away or prevent me from being around words or writing reports etc as I can do that. I also play a lot of Scrabble and Wordle and am good at those as I find it’s a great brain exercise for me to unscramble letters. It’s also helped me work through other feelings too that I am inadequate or stupid. How does dyslexia affect your life (what challenges do you face– work and personal?) It’s played a part in how much information I can sometimes retain if reading it – I sometimes miss very fine details or just can’t always see what is wrong with a piece of writing or find it hard to spot any grammatical errors. My spelling is good for the most part. What support have you or others put in place to help? I always make sure spell check is activated on all emails I have before I can send them out as that’s helped minimize type-o’s and has allowed a final review before something has been sent out. If the email or message is important I usually get a colleague to check it over. If an article is being written then I have a colleague check it over too as I feel peer review is good working practice and is useful to make sure what I have written has made sense. I gave a Tedx Talk in 2018 and adjustments were needed for that – I can’t detail lots of information on a script basis if speaking publicly so I had a well-rehearsed opening statement and closing statement and followed the story flow of what I was discussing. Generally, when I speak I agree on the key points and use that as a flow rather than practicing what I will speak word for word. Why is providing accessibility support important to Charlotte Sweeney Associates? We are all about inclusion and we actively practice what we preach – I report to Charlotte Sweeney directly and she’s been very clear in asking what support I need but doesn’t ever treat Dyslexia as a reason that I couldn’t do something but will always identify ways to be more inclusive in terms of how we work together and how we work with our clients. She also has ensured that I won’t be too overloaded with writing tasks or I have broad deadlines so I can have some reflection time. With others in the team, I am open about having Dyslexia and have always said if something doesn’t make sense or if it’s incorrect to let me know and we’ve all found a great way of working where I never feel shamed and it’s helped me learn more from receiving feedback what would be more concise or better ways to lay something out in less words. Accessibility support is very important as in many cases it’s almost like a well-kept secret – it’s there for the most part but it’s not spoken about widely enough. Fortunately, more workplaces are being more vocal around being inclusive or confident around having conversations around accessibility which promotes inclusion and has really opened my eyes to how many people do require support but it’s important to remember that everyone is different and it’s always good to have a conversation with the individual as taking Dyslexia as an example, what works for me might not work for someone else.

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Combatting Deaf Inequality with Sign Solutions

19 May 2022 | news

We are delighted to announce a new partnership with Sign Solutions; an award-winning on-demand, interpretation, translation, and training provider for seamless communication between deaf and hearing people. With 11 million people in the UK who are deaf or hard of hearing, we are thrilled to announce this partnership to tackle inequality for those with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, and those who speak English as a second language. Over the past 20 years, Sign Solutions has been awarded prestigious awards that recognise its service within a broad range of sectors including health, social care, legal, conference, education, and utilities. The perfect match for Recite Me and Sign Solutions - tackling world inequality and we even have some of the same clients! Sophie Kang, Business Development Manager at Sign Solutions commented, “I first became aware of Recite Me through a mutual client of ours and I was intrigued to understand their service. Once I understood their products and company values it became clear that they aligned exactly with that of Sign Solutions. “Sign Solutions' aim is to break down the barriers in communication for Deaf people and combat inequality. It made perfect sense for us to partner as Recite Me shares in our vision of accessibility for all and shares in our mission of creating a more inclusive society for everyone. We offer clients a complete solution to accessibility and want to ensure nobody with a disability faces a barrier in accessing services. We look forward to seeing where our partnership takes us.” Utilita Energy, the UK’s first and only specialist Pay As You Go Smart Energy provider is leading the way to break down barriers and encourage inclusivity. Utilita provides Recite Me assistive technology online and works closely with Sign Solutions to provide British Sign Language Video Interpreters and other types of remote communication support anytime and anywhere via any video platform. Global Accessibility Awareness Day is this Thursday (19/05/22), make sure to check out Recite Me’s webinar that will provide BSL from the great team at Sign Solutions. Sign up here. If you would like more information on how your organisation can provide a diverse and inclusive digital world by utilising accessibility and language tools, contact our team or book a real-time demonstration of the toolbar.

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An Accessible Digital Shop Window with Federation of Small Businesses

18 May 2022 | news

As more small businesses have expanded their online presence in recent years, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has implemented assistive technology to encourage a simple and seamless interaction for users of its site. Making change and influencing policies, FSB offers members a wide range of vital business services including advice, financial expertise, support, and a powerful voice heard in government. One recent example of this is the increase in the Employment Allowance for small employers from £4,000 to £5,000, announced in the Spring Statement, which came about thanks to FSB’s efforts on behalf of its members. To ensure an accessible digital space, FSB has lowered digital barriers for those with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, and those who speak English as a second language. Dave Eastwood, Marketing and Campaigns Manager at the Federation of Small Businesses, commented: “A visit to your website is often the first interaction a potential customer has with your business. Whether a consumer is in search of your opening hours, product information, or testimonials from happy clients, you want to make the experience simple. “If you’re an ecommerce business reliant on online sales, having an accessible and effective digital shop window is even more important to the success of your business.” The Recite Me accessibility and language tools on FSB’s website includes features such as, screen reading functionality, multiple reading aids, customisable styling options, and an on-demand live translation feature that boasts over 100 languages including 35 text-to-speech and styling options. Approximately 20% of people in the UK sit in the disability market. In the UK alone, the spending power of disabled people and their families is worth a staggering £274 billion and is estimated to be growing by 14% per year, yet less than 10% of organisations have a targeted plan to access the disability market. To support those with access needs online, FSB is raising awareness of the importance of meeting accessibility standards, and the small steps you can take to start your accessibility journey. To explore the customisable toolbar on the FSB website select the pink and white accessibility symbol in the top right hand corner. For more information on how you can provide an inclusive online experience book a demo with a member of our friendly team.

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Discussing ADHD with Alannah, Continuous Improvement Practitioner at OVO

17 May 2022 | news

On Thursday 19th of May 2022 it’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day, a day to get everyone thinking, talking and learning about digital inclusion. As this is such an important day in the Recite Me calendar we are spending the entire week shining a spotlight on digital accessibility. Today, we are sharing a Q&A with Alannah who kindly shares with us her personal experience of ADHD. 1. Could you tell me a bit about yourself? My name is Alannah (pronouns: she/her) and I’m a Continuous Improvement Practitioner within OVO’s Operational Excellence department. I was diagnosed with combined-type ADHD last year, which subsequently led me to joining our Neurodiversity Network. 2. What is it like to have ADHD? Previously to my diagnosis, having ADHD often felt like I was constantly playing a video game on the highest difficulty, but I felt pressured to make it look easy and never acknowledge that I was struggling. Nowadays, I still sometimes struggle with aspects of my day-to-day life, but overall it’s much less challenging. Part of what helps me is my medication, which the research shows makes the biggest difference for most people with ADHD. However, I also find systems like Recite Me to be very helpful in making my life that little bit easier. 3. How does ADHD affect your life? In all honesty ADHD has its pros and cons (and everyone with ADHD is different). Under the right conditions, my ADHD is the competitive edge that gives me the enthusiasm and focus to achieve my goals at pace in and outside of work. Conversely, sometimes my ADHD is the invisible boulder that prevents me from remembering the plans I’ve made and distracts me from the things that I should be doing. 4. Why do you think it is important to provide accessibility support online? Accessibility needs to be designed with every aspect of life in mind. Increasingly the majority of our lives are now managed online, so it’s incredibly important that accessibility is inclusively implemented in all online platforms. 5. How does the Recite Me toolbar support you? A lot of platforms are highly saturated with lots of content, which can make it challenging to take in what you’re trying to read. I like to use the Screen Mask function to focus on the specific area of the screen that I’m looking at, and scroll down as-and-when required. 6. Are there times you feel like your online experience could be improved by having access to assistive technology? Definitely, nearly every day I find myself thinking of ways that technology and processes could be improved from a user experience perspective. I typically use subtitles when I’m watching tv shows or movies. Occasionally, someone has mentioned that they find the subtitles a bit distracting, but sometimes they later mention that they’ve come to find subtitles helpful. I think that a good litmus test for assistive technology is that it should be deemed easy to use by the people who need it the most. It’s a great bonus if people who weren’t consciously your intended users find it helpful too.

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Why is Web Accessibility Such a Big Deal?

16 May 2022 | news

Why is web accessibility such a big deal? Because over 1 billion people worldwide are unable to make use of the information on your website if you don’t make accessibility adjustments to meet their needs. Yes, you read that number right. And yes, that’s around 20% of the entire global population. Thursday 19th of May marks the 11th anniversary of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which focuses on getting people to think and learn more about digital access and inclusion, and what it means for their business. Here’s what you need to know… What Does Being Accessible Mean? Over the past few decades, the world has made significant advancements in making the physical world more accessible to people with disabilities. But online accessibility isn’t just about the stereotypical wheelchair-bound disabled user. Websites also need to be accessible to a wide range of hidden disabilities like cognitive and neurological disorders, visual impairments, and language barriers. Being accessible means making reasonable adjustments for the entire range of disabled users so that they can read and use the information on your website. Otherwise, consumers are simply not able to do business with you. Why Isn’t My Website Accessible? Take a moment to think about how much you use the internet. The international average is 145minutes per person per day - just under 2.5 hours. Now imagine not having access to all of those websites and not having the information you need to complete activities like shopping, banking, paying bills, applying for jobs, and finding out information about local services, etc. There are hundreds of specific conditions that create barriers to accessing information online. But broadly speaking, there are four key reasons why users cannot access your website. People Can’t Read It For people with sight loss, colour blindness, and deafblindness, reading web copy can be difficult. The size of the text, the font used, and the colour contrast between text and background are all important factors – especially for users with learning difficulties like dyslexia, dyspraxia, and hyperlexia. People with more severe visual impairments may need to use a screen reader, or even have the content read aloud. People Don’t Understand It All of the copy on your website needs to be clearly written, understandable, and run in a logical order, otherwise people with cognitive and neurological disorders cannot follow the flow of information. You also need to consider the number of website visitors who speak English as a second language and may not be able to comprehend the information without translation assistance. People Can’t Navigate It Whether temporary or permanent, physical disabilities can make accessing websites via a smartphone or tablet extremely difficult, and using equipment like a mouse may be almost impossible. Therefore, it is imperative that your website can be navigated by keyboard-only functions, and that technology like voice readers can be used to allow visitors to search by verbal commands. People Are Scared of It Sounds dramatic, we know. But… what if site visitors have epilepsy or one of several conditions known to cause disorientation and/or confusion? Elements like flashing images, videos, or the overuse of image carousels can be a real danger here. Best case scenario, they become lost and unable to maintain their place on the page, and simply click away. But in the worst case, it could lead to a seizure. So options to change the layout of the page and strip away unwanted graphics for easier and safer reading are required. Best Practices for Website Accessibility The disabled market is the largest minority group in the world, so the benefits of including them should have fairly obvious ties to improved financial success. Essentially, web accessibility is now such an important consideration that you simply cannot afford for your site not to be accessible. Many businesses shy away from making accessibility adjustments as they see them as being too complicated or expensive. But on the contrary, many solutions are simple and easy to execute. Web Design The whole point of having a website is to showcase your products and services to as wide an audience as possible. Follow these steps to make your website easier for everyone to read, focus on, and understand. Use a content management system that supports accessibility. Use headings correctly to structure your content. Give descriptive names to your links. Ensure forms are designed for accessibility. Be mindful of colour use and colour contrasts. Be keyboard-friendly. You can read more about best practices for accessible web design here. Content Errors The most common examples of easy-to-fix accessibility failures include: Low contrast text Missing alt tag text Empty links Missing input labels on forms Empty buttons Missing document language Recent accessibility testing by WebAIM surveyed over 1 million website home pages and found these details were missing way more often than they should be. How to Make Your Website Inclusive One of the quickest, easiest, and most cost-effective ways to make your website inclusive is with assistive technology like the Recite Me toolbar. It’s worth noting that even if your website is accessible, it may not be inclusive. Accessibility compliance alone does not provide users with a fully inclusive experience. True inclusion comes from giving people as many choices as possible so they can customise your site and consume the information in a way that is tailored to their needs. “Accessibility guidelines are there to help us make websites more accessible. But they aren’t the be-all and end-all of accessibility.” Nicola Steenhout, Consultant in Inclusion, Accessibility, and Disability It is in this area of advocating accessibility, but also promoting inclusion at a much higher level, in which Recite Me sits. How Assistive Technology Works When you open a webpage that is equipped with our assistive technology, an accessibility toolbar pops up on the page. This alerts website visitors that additional accessibility options are available and that the site is a safe and welcoming space for them to enter. The Recite Me assistive toolbar promotes inclusivity by allowing those with sight loss, cognitive impairments, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, and varying linguistic needs to access your website in a way that is best suited to them. Functions include: Fully customisable text size, font, and spacing. The ability to change text colour and background colour contrasts. A screen mask to provide colour tinting and block visual clutter. Additional reading aids such as an on-screen ruler and text-only mode. Text-to-speech functions in 35 languages. A real-time translation feature catering to over 100 languages. These functions account for singular adjustments and also more complex scenarios where multiple adjustments are required for ease of use. The software even remembers each user’s preferences, so any page they open is automatically formatted to their preference. By providing an inclusive website journey for those with disabilities, we are improving website experiences for everyone. To find out more you can contact our team or book a free demo, and join the thousands of organisations who already use Recite Me to make the online world a more inclusive place.

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