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

Orlando International Airport provides accessibility support to 29million passengers

26 Nov 2020 | news

To provide accessible information online to over 29million passengers every year, Orlando International Airport now provides an inclusive experience on the MCO website. Passengers with disabilities spend over 17.3 billion dollars a year on travel and 34 percent say they would travel more if impediments were eliminated. The importance of online accessibility is greater than ever. Effective online communication is critical and being able to provide personalized assistance online gives everyone the ability to research and book travel arrangements in a way that works for them. Orlando International Airport has rolled out Recite Me accessibility and language support across its website to enable everyone to gather this vital information barrier-free. Supporting travelers with a wide range of disabilities and impairments, from dyslexia to sight loss and color blindness, to easily access their content. “Orlando International Airport (MCO) has a long history of innovative solutions to spearhead its focus on customer service and added one more in early 2020 by adding the Recite Me accessibility toolbar to its web site. Recite Me was not only a more cost-effective solution for delivering web content in foreign languages but also added so many more accessibility tools to improve the user experience for visitors to our site.” Jerry Harris, Assistant Director of Marketing & Air Service Development The Recite Me assistive toolbar is accessed by the “Accessibility” button at the top of the Orlando International Airport website providing a unique range of tools including, text to speech functionality, fully customizable styling features, reading aids and a translation tool with over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices and many other features. Recite Me works across all mobile and desktop devices to enable support through a traveler’s full journey.

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Best in class web accessibility: a journey of discovery

23 Nov 2020 | news

One of the key attributes of Recite Me is our close working relationship with all clients. Understanding their need then educating and guiding them correctly to understand the online world of accessibility and inclusion. On our journey, we crossed paths with Barbara Grehs, a Senior Digital Professional who was also on her own mission to provide the best possible online experience. After implementing Recite Me across two platforms we sat down with Barbara to rewind back to the start of her journey to find out more about her passion and where her mission started for wanting to provide an inclusive online experience for everyone. Beginnings My awareness of web accessibility began when I joined a housing association in 2014 that was using a cloud-based accessibility toolbar. As someone who thrives on user experience (UX), I instantly “got” the contribution this type of functionality made to providing an inclusive experience for all visitors. From that moment on, I made it my goal to find out as much as possible about web accessibility. What does “great” look like? As I explored the subject in more detail, I came to realise that accessibility isn’t simply about providing an accessibility toolbar: truly accessible websites have a combination of the following key characteristics: Adherence to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards Responsiveness (work well across all devices) Accessible design (colour schemes, fonts, and tagging of images and PDFs) Clear menu structure (easily understood by users) Easy to find information (ideally no more than three clicks from the homepage) Plain English standards set at a level that matches the users’ needs Clear and engaging content Inbuilt accessibility tools as a minimum, but preferably (in my view) cloud-based from a specialist third party provider Carrying the prestigious Internet Crystal Mark for web accessibility Window of opportunity In 2015, the housing association put out a call to staff to apply as candidates for a new Inclusive Ambassador initiative. Keen to make a positive contribution from a digital perspective by championing best in class web accessibility for customers, I applied and was accepted. Around the same time, our budget to build a new corporate website from scratch due to an ageing content management system (CMS) was approved. It was the moment I had been waiting for: I instantly made web accessibility one of the KPIs in the scoping of the new build. Foundations and launch We founded the new website build on two core principles: user focus and collaboration. Working intensively with internal stakeholders, I mapped out a user-focused menu structure and user-led content. Our in-house creative team had superb knowledge of accessible design principles and guided the web agency through the design phase. The web agency’s team were experts in responsive builds and really came into their own with this chance to create a new website. The housing association was also a member of Plain English Campaign, whose expertise and advice I sought on many elements of plain English. Coincidentally, around that time the housing association was also at a regulatory point of needing to issue an invitation to tender for its cloud-based web accessibility. The tender was won by Recite Me, a new supplier for the housing association, and we were able to synchronise the introduction of the product alongside the build process. It was a dream of mine to win Plain English Campaign’s prestigious Internet Crystal Mark for the new website. I submitted the application shortly after launch and, much to my delight, we were awarded the mark. Our internal communications programme along the way had created lots of interest in the new website, and colleagues were particularly enthusiastic when we announced the news about the mark. Onwards and upwards After moving on from the housing association in 2019, I began a 12-month maternity cover contract at a London university. Although there had been a refresh of the corporate website earlier that year, there were no in-built or third-party accessibility tools. Having had such a positive experience with Recite Me, I immediately set about championing its introduction at the university via a process of internal stakeholder engagement. We launched the product a couple of months before the end of my contract. Many colleagues were particularly interested in the potential for Recite Me to be used on additional platforms owned by the university, such as the intranet and portals. My thoughts on Recite Me Having honed my expertise in web accessibility over the past six years, I can honestly and objectively say that I have never seen a product of the scope, quality and reliability of Recite Me. It has become my “go-to” web accessibility product for one key reason: wherever an organisation might be in its journey to providing great web accessibility, Recite Me is a route to quickly improving the user experience for those with a disability and/or neurodiversity requirement. The functionality includes read aloud of text, interactive dictionary, translation tool with over 100 languages, colour schemes (with personal preference setting), font style (including Open Dyslexic font), screen ruler, screen mask, clutter-free view, and magnifying glass. The subscription represents excellent value for money, often amounting to fractions of a penny per user per year. It can be extended to work on additional domains owned by an organization (intranets, portals, microsites). Detailed monthly reporting provides numbers of users, feature usage, mobile/desktop and browser information, and can be linked to Google Analytics. In addition to all of this, the Recite Me team really excel at customer service: they are collaborative, supportive and really listen to their clients. Today, despite a corporate focus on inclusivity, I still see many websites that could benefit from improvements to their accessibility. Less than 50 websites in the UK carry the Internet Crystal Mark. I believe that all organisations need champions to advocate best in class web accessibility, so that every single visitor can enjoy an inclusive user experience. In my view, the Internet Crystal Mark sets the standard for this, and I hope to see more and more organisations make this an integral part of their website KPIs the future. Links WCAG https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/ Plain English Campaign http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/ Internet Crystal Mark http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/services/internet-crystal-mark.html Barbara Grehs, Senior Digital Professional LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/barbaragrehs/

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4 Key Reasons to Support Online Shoppers This Holiday Season

23 Nov 2020 | news

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday fast approaching, retailers are hoping for a big surge in online sales, as current lockdown measures mean in-person shopping is unlikely. Trends from this weekend will undoubtedly set a precedent for Christmas shopping habits next month. There has already been a significant shift to online shopping in recent years. Last year on Black Friday, 142.2 million people in the US shopped online, compared to only 124 million people who chose to shop in-store. Meanwhile, in the UK, online shoppers spent well over £1.5 billion on Black Friday. In fact, the number of online shoppers on Black Friday surpassed those of Cyber Monday, which is typically when shoppers flock to the internet in droves to pick up the best digital deals. Online Shopping Trends in 2020 The tendency to buy online has only been amplified in 2020, due to the social distancing measures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Industry research suggests that: Online holiday spends in 2020 is expected to surpass $189billion in the US and £84.5 billion in the UK, an increase of nearly 33% on 2019 figures. 66% of shoppers will increase their online spend this year 65% of shoppers will buy online to avoid crowds This is good news for online retailers, and many businesses are looking forward to a period of increased profitability at the end of what has been a difficult year. Typically, even small businesses receive revenue boosts of over 100% during the holiday season, and data shows that around 38% of consumers this year will make a deliberate effort to shop local and support smaller businesses. Financial Gain: the result of being inclusive It is incredibly important that companies take steps to support disabled customers online, as we already know from sources like the Click Away Pound Survey, that: 71% of web users simply leave a site that they find hard to use. 83% of people with access needs limit their shopping to sites that they know are accessible. 86% of users with access needs would spend more if there were fewer barriers. The annual online spending power of people with access needs is now £24.8 billion in the UK and $490 billion in the USA. From these statistics, it should be fairly obvious that the business case for making websites more inclusive is a no-brainer. Providing the right experience for people’s buying habits It’s also worth thinking a little more in-depth about your target demographic. Millennials were the biggest spenders on Black Friday in 2019 with an outlay of hundreds of pounds/dollars per person and a 25% increase in year-on-year spending from 2018. Millennial and Gen Z generations are incredibly socially conscious in their purchasing habits, so if your company isn’t viewed as being inclusive, some of this group simply won’t spend on your site. FACT: Less than 10% of businesses have a plan in place to target the disability market Consumers Need Accessible Websites A word of warning to retailers – just because the potential market is there does not guarantee you a share of the spend. What many online store owners forget is that a significant percentage of their potential customer base includes buyers who face barriers when accessing websites. Those with learning difficulties, visual impairments, physical disabilities, and varied linguistic needs find e-commerce sites incredibly difficult to navigate and use for a multitude of reasons. This makes online shopping an almost impossible task, and these users will need additional support to be able to use your website at all, let alone make purchases on it. So the key to gaining more traffic and sales is to make your website accessible to everyone. Last month (October 2020) over 162,000 people used Recite Me assistive technology to aid their online journey, and all over the world companies are using assistive technology to enable website visitors to better read and understand their content. “Being able to make your website welcoming and easy to use for all customers is key to creating the perfect online experience. Ross Linnett, CEO & Founder of Recite Me Case Study: Awin Awin is a global affiliate marketing network that partnered with over 15,000 advertisers and more than 211,000 publishers in 2019, generating over 150million sales in total. Responsible for connecting businesses and customers around the world in sectors ranging from finance and telecommunications to retail and travel, equal access to all website visitors has been an important consideration for the Awin team. Awin recently launched a Recite Me toolbar on their American and Canadian websites so that site visitors can access information and services barrier-free. "At Awin, diversity and inclusion is not an initiative but core to who we are as a company and how we run our business operations. Recite Me allows us to ensure an inclusive online environment and positive user experience for all of our partners and employees. We couldn’t be more thrilled to provide this tool for their website usage. " Alexandra Forsch, President of Awin US How to create an Inclusive Online Shopping Experiences While many businesses invest heavily in enhancing branding and the general user experience (UX) to maximise their online stores and sales, not enough seem to have considered accessibility and inclusion factors. Assistive technology is one of the easiest and lowest-cost solutions to provide equal access to all consumers. For example, the Recite Me toolbar removes barriers for all users by: Accounting for differences in vision - users can adjust the font size, font type, and use a screen reader for better focus and ease of reading. Removing barriers for people with learning difficulties - toolbar functions include options for changing colours and colour contrasts between background and foreground, the spacing between words, and stripping out distracting graphics. Providing information in clear language - we provide text to speech in 35 languages, on-screen translation in 100 languages, and inbuilt spell check and thesaurus functions. Making your website easier to navigate - keyboard accessibility allows users can navigate to interactive elements, which in turn, can also be used with keyboard functions. Providing accessible publications - our DocReader means PDF documents on your webpage are also accessible. Hundreds of organizations already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible for people with disabilities and are seeing great results. “The Recite Me accessibility and language support toolbar enables all website visitors to browse and purchase hassle-free. People who face online challenges because they either have a disability, learning difficulty, visual impairment or speak English as a second language, can now use a wide range of support functions to aid their shopping.” Mat Robinson, Hornets Retail Store, Watford FC To learn more, please contact our team, or book a demonstration. Installation typically takes less than an hour, so if you act now, you will be ready for a successful Christmas shopping season!

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Web Accessibility, Dyspraxia, & Supporting Neurodiversity Online

09 Nov 2020 | news

Have you heard of dyspraxia? Many people haven’t, and as such may be tempted to skim past this article assuming it does not apply to them or anyone they know. However, it is a condition that affects around 10% of the population in total, and at least 3-4% in a significant way. So, the chances are that in any classroom or office space there will be a student or colleague who has dyspraxia and needs to be supported. What is Dyspraxia? Dyspraxia is a neurological disorder, also referred to as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). Typical symptoms include clumsiness, poor spatial awareness, forgetfulness, and difficultly mastering motor skills. In a formal learning or professional environment, common difficulties can include being overwhelmed by information, problems with spelling, and struggling to read and process information at the same rate as others. Dyspraxia is a lifelong disorder but can often go undiagnosed in children or be confused for other learning difficulties or disabilities. For example, our guest blogger from last year, Daniel Cobb, was not diagnosed until the age of 43. Did you know that over 15% of the population are neurodiverse? As with most other neurological disorders and learning difficulties, dyspraxia is not a marker of intelligence. Those who have it simply have brains that work differently and don’t assimilate information in the same way as other people. You can read more about dyspraxia on the Dyspraxia UK website. Dyspraxia and Web Accessibility Because dyspraxics often suffer from sensory overload, busy web pages with lots of text and many graphics can be overwhelming, and therefore reading and processing on-screen information is difficult. Some colour contrasts also present problems, black text on a white background being particularly hard to read. When you consider that this accounts for the vast majority of websites, it becomes clear that the online world is not as navigable for dyspraxics as it is for other users. This puts them at a significant disadvantage using websites and online communication channels for everyday tasks and can also make job searches much more difficult. Whether it’s using job boards or business sites like LinkedIn and Upwork, or simply registering with a recruitment agency or completing an online application, dyspraxics will need to spend much more time on each task, and the process can be incredibly frustrating. Dyspraxia and Employment Dyspraxia needn’t stop people from being successful or finding their dream job, but employers need to be mindful that dyspraxics on their team may need additional support. At Recite Me, this is something we actively encourage. The average cost of making an adjustment for an employee 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. Equally importantly, dyspraxia is included in the list of disabilities covered under the Equality Act of 2010, so many employers have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments. Dyspraxic employees display similar qualities to dyslexics in that they are often creative thinkers and strategic problem solvers, and are generally highly motivated and hard-working. Many modern-day employers see the benefits of a team that includes neurodiverse members, as it allows them to be more progressive and develop better strategies for working effectively. In fact, many top-end companies and organisations actively seek out neurodiverse employees: Facebook – Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg recently praised a dyspraxic teenager who created a developmental disorders app. GCHQ Intelligence Agency - To maintain operating as a world-class organisation, the agency formally recognises that different kinds of thinkers are required, and admits to placing a high value on candidates who are cognitively different from their peers. Ernst & Young - Senior partners at the company believe that employees with disabilities are more empathetic, more resilient under pressure, and have well- developed coping strategies, making them particularly attractive to the firm. Supporting Dyspraxia Online Recite Me assistive technology is the perfect solution to help businesses and organisations support their neurodiverse team members, as users can make singular or multiple adjustments to adapt the way web content is presented to suit their individual needs. To combat accessibility barriers presented by dyspraxia specifically, the Recite Me toolbar offers: A totally customisable screen reader Options to have content read aloud in over 35 different languages Full control over the speed at which the text is read aloud Customisation options for text font, colour, sizing, and spacing A spell-checker and a fully integrated dictionary and thesaurus Find Out More In the increasingly digital landscape of 2020, it has never been more important that everyone has equal access to information online. For further details on becoming more inclusive by utilising our assistive technology, please feel free to contact our team or book a demonstration of our toolbar.

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Landsec creates an inclusive digital world

03 Nov 2020 | news

To support all website visitors from around the world Landsec now offers accessibility and language support options on 30 of their leisure and retail websites. Landsec is one of the leading real estate companies in the UK with a portfolio value of £12.8bn spanning across retail, leisure, and residential which includes, Trinity Leeds, Bluewater Shopping Centre, and Xscape Yorkshire. To enable all website visitors across their expanding digital landscape to engage with their retail and leisure outlets barrier-free, they now provide Recite Me assistive technology. This inclusive software provides everyone with the option to customise their online experience to suit their individual needs. The easy-to-use toolbar includes screen reading functionality, styling options, multiple reading aids, and an on-demand live translation feature which boasts over 100 languages include 35 text to speech. Taking this step forward to create an inclusive online world falls in line with Landsec's outlook on diversity and inclusion throughout their business. Mo Kebbay, Landsec’s Diversity & Inclusion Manager, is delighted to be using Recite Me on our website and believes it marks another step forward for Landsec’s D&I journey. Mo commented, “Online inclusion is a central part of our work and we are excited to be working more closely with the team at Recite Me going forward as we aim to break down the barriers for our employees and customers”.

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Supporting Disabled Shoppers Online

02 Nov 2020 | news

Today marks Purple Tuesday, an international initiative that celebrates diversity and creates awareness about the spending power of those with disabilities. Commonly known as ‘the purple pound’, the e-commerce spending power of this consumer group is all the more important this year, as during 2020 our society has been pushed online on a daily basis much more than ever before. Of course, physical accessibility factors are still an important consideration, but as the largest minority group in the world, it is important to remember that the disability market covers much more than physical disabilities alone. So businesses must consider digital accessibility in their long term strategies and ensure the inclusion of those who struggle with cognitive, learning, and neurological disorders, have visual impairments, poor literacy, or read in English as a second language, as well as those who are physically disabled. The Disability Market Spending Power Approximately 20% of people in the UK and 25% of people in the USA sit in the disability market. The sheer size of this market demonstrates why it is vital that website content is accessible and inclusive for everyone. With a spending power of £24.8 billion in the UK alone (around 10% of the total online spend), it also emphasizes how considerable the potential opportunities are for businesses who can step up to meet the demand for accessible websites. “Ensuring that disabled people are able to access shops, restaurants and clubs isn’t just the right thing to do - it makes business sense too. By failing to cater to their disabled customers, many businesses are missing out on the spending power of disabled people and are denying them the opportunity to enjoy something which many people take for granted. There is still time to get involved in this important initiative and I encourage businesses across the country to do just that - and reap the rewards.” Sarah Newton, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work The Click Away Pound Click-Away Pound is a research survey that analyses the online shopping habits and experiences of people with disabilities. The latest survey in 2019 demonstrates in relatable terms exactly how important it is for retailers to provide digital accessibility on their websites and apps: 70% of online consumers surveyed will click away from websites that they find difficult to use. 83% of participants limit their shopping to sites that they know are accessible. 86% of respondents choose to pay more for products from accessible websites rather than purchase the same products for less on websites that are harder to use. 35% of users with access needs use a smartphone as their preferred device for online shopping. Only 8% of users with access needs will contact the site owner about any accessibility barriers they experience. At Recite Me, we believe that online shops and services should be open to everyone. But despite these overwhelming statistics, many retailers still don't design and build their websites and apps to include everyone, turning away millions of customers and billions in revenue in the process. E-Commerce Trends Internet service providers like BT's Openreach reported a 20% surge in internet use in the first quarter of 2020. But even before the Covid-19 pandemic, retailers were already seeing a significant shift towards online shopping year on year: In 2018, the market penetration rate of digital consumers worldwide was already 47.3%. The global online shopping market size is predicted to hit 4 trillion by the end of 2020. According to a study by Invesp, the USA and the UK are the countries with the highest average e-commerce revenue per shopper, at $1,804 and £1,629 per person per annum respectively. The British Retail Consortium expects that over half of all UK retail sales will be online within 10 years. The USA is expected to have 300 million online shoppers by 2023. That’s 91% of the entire population! We are living in a time where more and more daily tasks and transactions are taking place on the internet, so these statistics highlight the need for imminent action in order to meet the demand for more accessible online products and services. The Disability Market & E-Commerce Trends The spending power of disabled people and their families is rising by 14% per year on year, yet less than 10% of businesses have a plan in place to target the disability market, and over 98% of homepages across 1 million popular websites failed to meet legal accessibility standards in 2019. As only a small percentage of consumers contact companies directly when they run into accessibility barriers online, it is possible that most businesses aren’t aware of how inaccessible their websites are. What is clear, however, is that people with disabilities will buy more and are prepared to pay premium prices to businesses that offer them a better and more accessible online service. So businesses that are forward-thinking and progressive would do well to act now to ensure survival and continued success. "Digital communications can influence every stage of the visitor’s decision-making process, and as the first port of call for many people planning a trip, it is important that our website reflects inclusivity and allows people of all abilities to access the information they need.” Emma Burdett, Web & Digital Marketing Manager, Visit Belfast How to Support Disabled Shoppers Online We encourage companies to take the Purple Tuesday pledge and make changes to improve the online experiences of people with disabilities. Making your website welcoming and easy to use for all customers is key. Not just on Purple Tuesday, but every day, 365 days a year. If you think you might be missing out on the Click Away Pound, the Recite Me assistive toolbar is a simple and highly effective solution that can be embedded onto your website in a matter of minutes. Our software allows consumers barrier-free access to explore products and services online. Features include: A screen reader for easy navigation and focus. Styling options to fully customise text style, size, and spacing, and alter colour contrast for ease of use. Reading aids such as an on-screen ruler and text-only mode. A translation tool with over 100 text languages and 35 text-to-speech voices. Make Your Website Accessible Today! Join the thousands of satisfied clients who have already successfully integrated our accessibility software onto their sites and are benefiting from the value it provides. “Diversity and inclusion is not an initiative but core to who we are as a company and how we run our business operations. Recite Me allows us to ensure an inclusive online environment and positive user experience for all of our partners and employees.” Alexandra Forsch, President of Awin To find out more or to book a demo please contact the team.

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Recite Me continues to support businesses online during second national lockdown

02 Nov 2020 | news

Following the Prime Minister’s latest announcement for a second national lockdown, Recite Me reiterates their pledge to support all businesses in creating an inclusive landing page to enable everyone to read and understand COVID-19 related information. As we enter a second lockdown internet usage will once again spike as we all rely on online communication for everyday tasks. Studies show that around one-in-five people have some form of disability, long-term health condition, or situational impairment, which can make accessing online information challenging. Therefore, when information is vital, it is vital to consider the individual needs of these people by ensuring all online information and digital platforms are accessible to them. CEO and Founder Ross Linnett announced back in March that Recite Me would support all businesses for free to provide accessible Coronavirus information to their staff and customers. Since the start of the Recite Me pledge, we have worked alongside 120 companies to support over 50,000 unique people to access vital information barrier-free. You can request an accessible version of your covid-19 support information by contacting the Recite Me team anytime. Your inclusive page will live within 48 hours of requesting our support. Recite Me CEO, Ross Linnett commented, “Recite Me was a dream to drive change, to be inclusive and to enable everyone to explore and share our online world freely. During these uncertain times Recite Me is here to support businesses across the world to create an accessible message to everyone surrounding Coronavirus. No cost, no agenda, just accessibility for all.” This support will enable people with differing abilities, visual impairments, learning difficulties and people who speak English as a second language to understand their message. The Recite Me accessibility & language support toolbar will automatically launch on your landing page, proving people with a wide range of options including text to speech functionality, fully customisable styling features, reading aids and a translation tool with over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices and many other features. Clare Armstrong, Head of Passenger Services at London Luton Airport commented, “Joining the Recite Me pledge has enabled us to communicate our COVID19 message to the widest possible audience. Visitors can customise their viewing experience through a screen reader, styling options, reading aids, and a translation function. "This online support allows London Luton Airport’s key messages to be accessed and understood by all, particularly during these difficult and unsettling times." Any business can visit the Recite Me website now to find out how the free accessible and inclusive landing page works and how to create their own landing page.

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Report: The need for Assistive Technology on Airport Websites

26 Oct 2020 | news

Airports are complicated and challenging environments at the best of times, and even more so for travellers with disabilities. Most modern airports have adapted to meet the needs of passengers with mobility issues, but the vast majority are still failing to provide appropriate assistance for passengers with hidden disabilities. For these travellers, accessibility issues begin way sooner in the customer journey, from the very first time they click on an airport’s website… Airports & Online Accessibility Globally, airport websites receive millions of clicks every day and the diversity of site visitors is incredibly wide-ranging. Airport websites are invaluable for passengers looking for arrival and departure information, and for those wanting to book ahead for airport services like car parking, left luggage, lounge access, and special assistance etc. Unfortunately, these details are often inaccessible to the millions of passengers who struggle to access information on websites due to: Vision problems – examples including partial blindness, colour blindness, and deafblindness. Physical disabilities – such as decreased upper body motor function that limits keyboard use, or epileptic customers who may be triggered by graphics on a web page. Learning difficulties – like dyslexia, ADHD, or hyperlexia. Language issues – many foreign tourists do not speak English as a first language. These often-ignored hidden disabilities are perhaps more prevalent in the aviation market than any other, as the sector comprises, by default, a large number of those who are more likely to encounter accessibility barriers: Any tourists who don’t speak English as a first language. Older people with disposable income to spend on travel, but who are more likely to struggle with vision problems and mobility issues. All travellers with hidden disabilities who spend several weeks – or even months – researching their holiday plans online. Data suggests that there are over one billion people globally who have disabilities that form barriers to website accessibility. In the case of airport website visitors specifically, this prevents potential travellers from acquiring the information they need to support them on their journey. Many industry experts claim that this is one of the areas requiring the most attention and improvement, and that by applying principles from the hospitality and travel industry in general, airport operators should be able to improve their inclusion ratings. “The hospitality industry, with its insistence on superb customer service at every customer contact point, shows the direction where airports should be going.” Chris Radcliffe, Accessibility Specialist at Maber The Importance of the Disability Market We already know from industry reports by AMADEUS and The Open Doors Organisation that inaccessible websites are a major barrier for people with disabilities who want to travel. In fact, 53% of disabled travellers surveyed by AMADEUS said they needed help with all or part of the booking process. Accounting for 15% of the global population, the disabled are the world’s largest minority group, so improvements are required as soon as possible to tap into this incredibly lucrative market: Inaccessible websites are the biggest barrier preventing people with disabilities from researching, planning, and booking trips online, with 24% of disabled travellers saying they have problems with the searching, shopping, or booking processes. Adults with disabilities spend an estimated $17.3 billion on travel every year. Travellers would increase their travel budget by up to 34% if accessibility barriers were eliminated. Ultimately, the findings of these reports demonstrate that airports and aviation companies can expand their market, sales, and revenue significantly if they remove the barrier of inaccessible websites. “In both the United States and Europe, the growth in demand for accessibility services is now outpacing the overall rise in passenger numbers.” Laurel van Horn, Open Doors Organisation Accessibility Legislation & Guidelines for Airports It is commonplace in developed countries that there are laws in place to prevent businesses from discriminating against those with disabilities. In the UK, this is covered under the Equality Act of 2010, and in the USA it falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Both laws require companies to make accommodations for people with disabilities, including making websites accessible, yet an astounding number of websites are still not in compliance. “The ADA is the strongest disability nondiscrimination law in the entire world, yet there are far too many businesses and organisations that still either aren’t aware of what the law is, or think they can get away with not complying.” Stacy Cervenka, Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired In the transport and aviation industries specifically, there are further regulations laid out in the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), and the Department of Transport (DOT) requires that businesses are in compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) Level AA. The DOT has also developed a series of informative materials to assist passengers travelling with disabilities to better understand their rights. However, as many of these are digital, they may not be accessible to those who struggle with hidden disabilities, so their effectiveness is somewhat limited. Industry Leaders Embracing accessibility and becoming inclusive to all customers sets businesses apart from their competitors, and some airports are already leading the way by making information about their services more accessible on their websites One of the best ways to become inclusive is to utilise assistive technology like the Recite Me assistive toolbar. Several airports have already taken this step and are seeing the benefits. Our clients include: Nashville International Airport Orlando International Airport Gatwick International Airport Heathrow International Airport London City Airport All of these providers use Recite Me software to let travellers with a wide range of disabilities and impairments easily access their websites and web content. “Gatwick Airport aims to be the UK’s most accessible airport, giving everybody an equal opportunity to fly, and as part of this, it is important for us to make our website easy to use for as many people as possible.” Mandie Armstrong, Digital Communications Manager, Gatwick Airport Assistive Technology Solutions Software solutions like the Recite Me assistive toolbar helps websites to be totally inclusive through a suite of customisable accessibility and language options. When equipped with Recite Me software, websites become instantly accessible, readable, and much easier to understand. The toolbar has been designed with WCAG principles at the core of the product, but our goal is to do much more than simply ‘tick the box’ on compliance for reasonable adjustments. Recite Me is about creating a totally inclusive digital environment, where users can: Personalise font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read. This is beneficial to readers who have dyslexia, dyspraxia, colour blindness, or decreased vision in general. Download content as an audio file, which is great for those with vision problems. Access text to speak functions in 35 different languages, which is beneficial for all site visitors with English literacy issues. The text can be read aloud at different speeds with either a male or female voice, which is great for autistic users too. Utilise the screen mask and ruler, allowing those with ADHD and other attention disorders to focus rather than being distracted by other content on the page. Convert text content into over 100 different on-screen languages, which is ideal for those for whom English is not their first language. Make use of the toolbar’s built-in dictionary and thesaurus to check word definitions. This is particularly important for users with conditions like hyperlexia, who can read words but not necessarily understand their meaning. Switch to “text-only” mode. This feature is favoured by those with conditions like Epilepsy, as they can strip away any media or graphics that may cause a seizure. What The Data Says On average, airports providing Recite Me accessibility and language support witness: Over 20,000 launches of the toolbar every month Over 98,000 pages being viewed every month ‚Äč View time of almost 5 pages per session, compared to the average internet journey depth of just 2 pages per visit. Toolbar Feature Usage Across a range of actions including checking flights times, researching access information, or booking parking or hotel stays etc., the breakdown on usage of our toolbar features is: Screen Reader – 58% Translation – 28% Styling – 14% This data proves a more inclusive experience with site visitors using a range of accessibility functions, choosing to stay on accessible websites for longer, and in many cases continuing to point of sale to book services. With accessibility factors having such a significant impact on sales (and therefore revenue and profit), the business case for adopting assistive technology to create a more inclusive customer journey is clear. It’s not simply the logical thing to do, however, being inclusive is the right thing to do. Why should some people miss out on the same travel opportunities and privileges as the rest of society, just because they struggle to access or assimilate information in the same way? And especially at a time when the sector is already struggling to bounce back from the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, businesses should be casting their net as wide as possible in order to achieve a larger customer base. Get Recite Me for Your Website It has never been more important that all customers can access and understand information online, so now is the time to join the thousands of companies who have already made positive steps towards becoming digitally inclusive by installing Recite Me assistive technology on their websites. If you’d like more details on how your business can use our assistive technology, please feel free to contact our team or book a demonstration of our toolbar.

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SNC Lavalin creates inclusive online experience to support all candidates

19 Oct 2020 | news

The SNC Lavalin Group has launched Recite Me assistive technology across their careers platform to create a fully inclusive experience. Recite Me’s inclusive digital tools enable all website visitors to customize their journey and make it work best for them. It also helps SNC Lavalin to widen their talent pool as part of their inclusive approach to employment. SNC Lavalin is a world-leading engineering and project management company with over 50,000 employees worldwide, with offices in over 50 countries and operations in over 160 countries. SNC Lavalin is constantly looking for people who experience the world and its problems differently to uncover hidden talent. In the UK, around half of people with disabilities are in employment (53.2%), compared with 81.8% non-disabled people. This represents an abundance of overlooked talent and Recite Me is able to support SNC Lavalin to remove barriers online and engage with everyone. “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 UK & Europe, SNC Lavalin To enhance a candidate’s experience online and enable people to engage with their business easily Recite Me provides all website visitors a range of tools to customise their experience in any way to suit their accessible and language needs. These inclusive options include text to speech functionality, fully customizable styling features, reading aids and a translation option with over 100 languages, including 35 text-to-speech voices and many other features. In the first five months of Recite Me being launched on the SNC Lavalin careers website the toolbar has been used nearly 5,000 times.

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Kathryn Knowles Driving Inclusive Insurance

14 Oct 2020 | news

Introduce yourself and your company Hi, I’m Kathryn and I own Cura Financial Services. We offer support to people that are having difficulty getting insurance policies like life insurance, critical illness cover and income protection. A lot of the people that we speak to have health conditions and have found getting insurance tricky, or impossible. I struggled to get insurance myself due to my health and we’ve made it our mission to help as many people like me as possible. What is your D&I mission for this year and beyond? Since 2012 we have been fighting for fairer access to insurance for people with health conditions, hazardous jobs, high-risk travel and sports. For the last couple of years we have been thinking about the very initial stage of insurance. We have a lot of experience helping people to get insurance, but we started to wonder, is insurance easily accessible for people that are deaf, blind or have conditions like dyslexia. We started doing some research and realised that there are a lot of barriers. Insurance documentation is full of jargon, it’s not often in a format that works with screen readers, not many companies are able to offer sign language specialists. Our aim is to build a kind of best practice guide for organisations within the insurance industry, to take steps to make their services more accessible. Can you share some D&I best practice examples? A big thing for me is to not make assumptions, I’m a big believer that no two people are the same. Just because you have supported someone that is deaf and they liked to chat by email, that doesn’t mean that every one that is deaf will. Others may want to use a sign language interpreter as that is their native language. We have people that need us to communicate specifically by email due to hearing conditions, that need to speak on the phone as auditory information suits them best and others that like to video call. There is always room to learn and it’s incredibly important to be reactive to everyone’s individual needs. What are you doing across your digital landscape to be inclusive? Part of our work has been the integration of Recite Me onto our website and promoting it’s benefits to our peers. The document reading, customisation and language translation are really impressive. I write a lot of content on our website and do videos and podcasts too. Our videos all have subtitles and both the videos and podcasts are transcribed to improve accessibility. I write pages for individual health conditions so that people can access specific information and case studies relevant to their situation. It makes the information relatable and doesn’t bombard people with unnecessary information. Can you share an example of D&I success at your organisation? Our success comes from years of building knowledge on how insurance works, why insurers make certain decisions and which insurers are going to be right for a person’s individual circumstances. We regularly help people that have been told that they are uninsurable to get insurance. This doesn’t mean silly pricing, or dodgy wording! It’s just being able to understand medical conditions and how the insurance industry works. We have over 150 individual health conditions pages on our website and the list keeps growing. We regularly help people that have had cancer, heart attacks, strokes or are living with HIV, multiple sclerosis to get insurance. I specialise in helping people with mental health conditions to get insurance, providing an empathetic and non-judgemental journey for them. Concluding message you would like people to take away I would like people to take away from this, that improving accessibility to your organisation, shouldn’t be a side project or something that you’ll eventually get around to. It is simply the right thing to do. Someone said to me recently “It’s not what people do that you remember, it’s how they have made you feel”. For people that are still on the fence, there is a business argument for this too. It’s estimated that roughly 1 in 5 people have a disability and inaccessible websites are missing out on £11.75 billion in the UK. There’s a huge amount of money to be made from being more accessible, so you can increase your turnover and also be doing the right thing!

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Charities Are Becoming More Inclusive by Embracing Web Accessibility

14 Oct 2020 | news

Over the past 12 months Recite Me has made over 350,000 charity and not-for-profit organizations website pages accessible, and on average we’ve supported over 8,500 people every month in accessing barrier-free charity information through our web accessibility technology. And we’re just getting started… The charity and not for profit sector is well known for supporting some of the most vulnerable members of our society. So it makes sense that many organizations are taking the lead in tackling web accessibility in 2020 as a way of championing as many beneficiaries as they can. This year, in particular, has seen many vulnerable individuals become isolated due to lock down and shielding measures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is vital that digital inclusion factors are considered by as many organizations as possible to ensure that online information is not just available, but accessible to all. In recent months as the effects of COVID-19 restrictions continue to linger, we’ve noticed a trend in the growing number of charity and not for profit organizations that are signing up to use Recite Me assistive technology, and we now support over 50 different charitable organizations including: Amnesty International National Alliance on Mental Illness The Prince’s Trust Meningitis Now American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Just 4 Children Several NHS Trusts Disability Rights groups across America Web Accessibility & Charity Values Many readers will naturally assume that a significant percentage of organizations in the not for profit sector is supporting disabled users who face web accessibility barriers and that this is the sole reason behind the upturn of sign-ups in 2020. However, this is not the case, as while many charities do embrace assistive technology to support their beneficiaries, the target audience for charity websites goes way beyond that, and categories within the sector are way more all-encompassing than disability organizations alone. Examples include: Animal welfare charities International NGOs Environmental campaign charities Education charities Arts and culture charities Community development charities Human rights charities The vast majority of charities and not for profits rely on the internet not just to communicate with their subscribers and recipients, but to communicate their values and attract supporters, ambassadors, and benefactors. This is something that becomes increasingly difficult if websites are not accessible. The simple fact is that the more an organization does to provide access to information, the more people it can reach. This year especially, this has become incredibly important in the charity sector, as with so many people struggling financially it is harder than ever to recruit sponsors and donations. By their very nature, charities and not for profits actively work towards equality and inclusion for all. In the modern-day world, and in 2020 in particular, so much of what we do is online that if we don’t take web accessibility seriously then people will be excluded. This, in turn, creates a two-tiered society, something which the charity sector works incredibly hard to avoid. So the shared values between charity goals and the benefits of web accessibility are very clear here. What the Data Says We already know that 71% of web users simply leave a site that they find hard to use, and 83% of people with access needs limit their browsing to sites that they know are accessible. So it’s always rewarding to know that our technology is making a genuine difference to people’s lives. Let’s take a look at some of the statistics from our charity clients so far this year: Toolbar launches – Depending on the size and scope of the charity, numbers vary, but most medium-sized organizations show toolbar launches in the thousands. National charities average at 15,000+ toolbar launches, whereas smaller or regional charities record toolbar launches of 5,000-12,000. Pageviews per visit – On average, Recite Me users view 3.5 pages of an accessible website per visit, which is higher than the average internet journey depth of just 2 pages per visit. Translations – Again, numbers will vary depending on the size and scope of the charity, but some charity websites report as many as 20,000 translations. How Assistive Technology Removes Web Accessibility Barriers Solutions like the Recite Me assistive toolbar provide options to make multiple adjustments on any given web page to make the contents easier to read. Bespoke changes can be made to the text, graphics, and the way the information is consumed (visual or audio), plus on-screen tools make the pages easier to focus on. This makes websites accessible for those who struggle with a range of conditions, including: Visual impairments Deafblindness Colour blindness Dyslexia Hyperlexia Dyspraxia ADHD Speaking English as a second language Epilepsy Mobility and physical impairments Charities and not for profits provide a wide range of services including information, advice, training, education, and digital resources. As such, charity websites are often among some of the most complex for users to access, making web accessibility a top priority. Recite Me is very proud to be leading the way in this sector and helping so many people to access the information they need online. “We believe everyone should be able to access our information and services barrier-free, and Recite simply helps us deliver this in a way that is straight forward for the user and, for a charity that doesn’t receive government funding, in a cost-effective manner. " David Clifford, Digital Marketing Manager at Meningitis Now You can find out more about the charities that use Recite Me software in 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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Supporting People with Vision Problems Online

07 Oct 2020 | news

Today marks World Sight Day, the goal of which is to raise public awareness of blindness and vision impairment. As a company that is very familiar with the many and varied online needs of those with vision problems, this is certainly something that the team at Recite Me are passionate about supporting. Did you know that at least 2.2 billion people globally suffer from a vision impairment or blindness? Within this number are people who are registered blind or are partially sighted, plus all other people whose sight problems mean they face barriers when carrying out their daily activities. According to recent reports, it’s predicted that the number of people with sight loss will more than double by 2050, meaning nearly 4 million people in the UK, and a staggering 25 million people in the USA will struggle with decreased vision. With this in mind, it is paramount that people with vision impairments are supported and included in the online world. Common Types of Visual Impairment There are many different types of blindness, each one affecting people in different ways. The most common forms of visual impairment include: Loss of Central Vision – where a blur or blind spot occurs in the central line of sight, making tasks like reading and recognizing faces difficult. Loss of Peripheral Vision – the opposite of central vision loss. People can see directly ahead of them, but nothing to one or both sides, and perhaps anything directly above or below eye level too. Sometimes referred to as ‘tunnel vision’, this makes reading difficult as it is only possible to see a few words at a time. Blurred Vision – despite amazing modern options for corrective lenses in spectacles and contacts, this form of sight loss is so severe that objects in both near and far focus fields become blurred. Generalized Haze – the entire viewing field is obscured by a film or glare that makes objects impossible to focus on properly. Extreme Light Sensitivity – often resulting in pain or physical discomfort, those with extreme light sensitivity see ‘washed out’ images and/or bright glare in their line of vision. Night Blindness – the inability to see in dimly lit areas in both indoor and outdoor settings. Deafblindness - Deafblindness is often referred to as ‘dual sensory loss’ or ‘dual sensory impairment’, and is characterized by the loss of sight and hearing to the point where communication and access to information is impacted. Colour Vision Deficiency - often referred to as colour blindness. Colour blindness is an inability to see colours in a normal way, which includes being unable to distinguish between certain colours (usually greens and reds, but sometimes blues too.) Reading through this list of symptoms, it is easy to see how people with vision impairments will have difficulties with regular tasks such as searching for and reading information online. Whether it’s doing the weekly food shop, planning a holiday, paying utility bills, using social media, or logging into online banking, suddenly, all of the things that many of us take for granted become much more complicated. It doesn’t have to be this way though. Website providers can support people with vision impairments by improving their website accessibility, and that’s where Recite Me comes in. Web Accessibility for People with Vision Problems Recite Me’s assistive toolbar provides businesses and organisations with a quick and easy way to make their websites fully accessible to people with visual impairments. By removing barriers and allowing site visitors to customise web pages in a way that works best for them, websites become instantly inclusive and much more user friendly. Unlike alternative products that do not account for such a wide variety of parameters and may not be fully optimised for mobile access, Recite Me offers a totally accessible design solution that can be used on any device. Among other features, the Recite Me toolbar includes: A screen reader, which converts text to speech in 35 languages. Text only mode, to strip away distracting graphics. Options to alter margins and reposition text on the page. The ability to change font sizes, font colour, font spacing, and colour contrast between the background and foreground. These functions make websites much more friendly spaces for users who suffer from visual impairments, and the results demonstrate significant usage and benefits. Our last 12 months of data show that: The Recite Me toolbar has been launched over 2 million times. Over 10 million accessible pages have been viewed. 24.6 million pieces of content have been read aloud thanks to our screen reader. Over 1 million reading aids have been activated. Of course, the Recite Me accessibility software isn’t only for those with decreased vision. Our toolbar functions also help people who suffer from a wide range of learning difficulties and disabilities including dyslexia, hyperlexia, ADHD, epilepsy, physical incapacities, and those who speak English as a second language. Additional Benefits of Having an Accessible Website Improving web accessibility doesn’t just benefit the visually impaired and other disabled users, it benefits everyone. It is estimated that the average worker spends around 35 hours per week staring at a computer screen. Therefore, it’s hardly a surprise that 90% of people experience some kind of screen fatigue. This can come in the form of blurry vision, irritated eyes, headaches, or a drop in colour perception. And this is just for regular sighted people, without factoring in any additional vision problems! So by embracing assistive technology, everyone can make adjustments for improved comfort and reduced fatigue. There are also cost benefits. Aside from the fact that it’s simply the right thing to do, businesses risk missing out on a huge chunk of their target market if their websites are not accessible. Furthermore, if an organization’s web product is not accessible, disabled users may have grounds to make a discrimination claim under the Equality Act of 2010. Make Your Website Accessible Today! Recite Me is simple to implement and in many cases can be installed on your website in under an hour by adding a small amount of JavaScript to each of your website’s pages. Contact one of our team for more information, or alternatively, book a toolbar demonstration.

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Understanding Dyslexia with Ross Linnett

06 Oct 2020 | news

Everyone has friends, colleagues or family members who have dyslexia. You may not know it, and those who have dyslexia may not even know it themselves. But it’s a condition that impacts at least 10-15% of the population, and many more cases beyond this go undiagnosed. So it’s a simple fact that it affects way more people than you’d think. Dyslexia is a learning difficulty close to our hearts as our founder and CEO, Ross Linnett, is himself dyslexic, and Recite Me was borne out of his passion to make the online world a more accessible place for others like himself. What is Dyslexia? Dyslexia is a learning disorder characterised by problems with reading, writing, and spelling, particularly when it comes to word order and identification. Additional factors that complicate comprehension for dyslexics include font choice, font size, and colour contrasts between written text and the background. Those who suffer from dyslexia may also experience problems with attention span, organization, and timekeeping. What dyslexia is not, is a marker of decreased intelligence. When diagnosed early, children with dyslexia can achieve just as much as any other student. But they will likely need additional tutoring or a tailored education program, as they do not fit into the normal education model of reading and written exams. As awareness of dyslexia increases, schools and colleges are becoming better at identifying signs and symptoms, which in turn means more tools and support for dyslexic students. However, the condition can often go undetected for many years, and in some cases (as with Ross) is not identified until adulthood. This puts dyslexics at a much higher risk of exclusion. A Dyslexics Story As Recite Me’s mission is to make the internet a better place for dyslexics, we asked Ross a few questions so we can share his story with you. The chances are that you or someone you know will share a very similar experience… When you were at school and university, did you ever suspect that your learning style was significantly different from your friends? "Yes. When I was at school I definitely suspected there was something different about the way my brain was working and learning. I was very strong in subjects that didn't have a lot of English, but weak in those that required large amounts of reading or writing. The thing that stood out most was that these weaknesses never really improved no matter how hard I worked on them, whereas with other subjects I got better the more effort I put in. Interestingly, I once said to my English teacher I thought I might be dyslexic, but she dismissed the idea and told me I was being stupid!" What did you struggle with the most in an academic setting? "The thing that I struggled with the most was reading aloud. Basically, I just couldn't do it. I managed to keep my inability/slowness in reading hidden for the most part, but you can't hide when you have to read out loud. I was very confident and happy in school, but the thought of reading in front of the class used to scare the life out of me." What was your feedback from your teachers when you were at school? "Interestingly, the teacher who told me not to be stupid when I said I thought I was dyslexic was very supportive and wanted to help me a lot. She did pass my writing over to a special needs teacher, but she also dismissed that I was dyslexic without even giving me a test. If either of these teachers had been more open-minded, and particularly if the special needs teacher had done a more thorough job, I think my academic experience would have been completely different. However, I do believe that having to work hard and find my own adjustments instead of being given support has provided me with some advantages." When were you diagnosed with dyslexia? "Not until after I had graduated from university. I was giving a presentation and was writing some notes down on paper when a colleague commented that I was displaying all the signs of dyslexia. At this time I was really searching for answers because, in the run-up to exams in the final year of my engineering degree, I had been one of the students that was showing all the others how to answer questions in the mock exams. It was clear I had a lot more knowledge than many of my course mates, yet in a final exam environment I never finished within the allotted time and other students were beating me by up to 20%. A classic sign of dyslexia is taking much longer in exams." How does dyslexia affect your life the most? "The biggest problem areas are still reading and writing. However, within Recite Me, the vast amount of communications I do are internal. Luckily it’s my company, so everybody has the understanding that messages will come through with grammatical errors, and in some cases be hard to understand. It's all about the acceptance of that, rather than me spending two or three times longer trying to make something perfect. The whole mission of our product is to support those who learn and communicate differently, so having a solid internal understanding of how that works in a real-life setting is actually really great for the team. " What changes have you made internally to make the company more Dyslexia aware? "A limited attention span is a common dyslexic trait, so we try to keep meeting lengths down as much as possible - which comes with the added advantage of making our meetings much more efficient and focused. Did you know that Winston Churchill was dyslexic? He would often refuse to have a meeting longer than 20 minutes, and if he can run an entire war operation this way, I'm confident that our business and any other company can also manage!" Dyslexia as a Positive It is common for those who struggle with dyslexia to try and hide it as much as possible, just as Ross did when he was younger. However, being dyslexic is not necessarily a disadvantage as it comes with amplified competence in other areas such as analytical thinking, big-picture thinking, and heightened creativity in general. These are incredibly sought after skills in some of the world’s biggest industries and are particularly useful in areas like IT, analytics, architecture, design, fashion, science, and medicine etc. In fact, some of the world’s most famous innovators have been dyslexic. Prominent examples include Sir Richard Branson, Agatha Christie, and Albert Einstein. In today’s world of constantly evolving technology and fast-paced change, there is more space than ever for those with enhanced problem solving, critical thinking, and leadership skills – all areas in which dyslexics typically excel. However, to provide the best opportunities possible, education institutions and businesses must have a support system in place to allow those who learn and process information differently to succeed. How Technology Can Help Dyslexics can be supported easily through the use of technology like the Recite Me assistive toolbar. Recite Me is perfect for those who have dyslexia as it allows users to: Have text from any website read-aloud to them Download and save any written web content as an MP3 file Choose the exact colour contrast between the text and background Change the font type and size Zoom in on any part of a webpage Use the built-in spell-checker and a fully integrated dictionary and thesaurus It also helps people who suffer from a wide range of other disabilities and impairments such as hyperlexia, ADHD, decreased vision, colourblindness, epilepsy, physical disability, and those who speak English as a second language. Find Out More If you’d like to learn more about supporting your students or workforce with our dyslexia-friendly assistive software, please feel free to contact our team for more information or a book a real-time demonstration of our toolbar. Dyslexia week 2020 is currently underway and runs from the 5th-11th of October. Free dyslexia resource packs for schools, colleges and workplaces are available online via the British Dyslexia Association website.

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Curve Theatre Provides Accessibility Support to Over 800 People Every Month

02 Oct 2020 | news

While the doors of Leicester’s Curve theatre may be closed, the theatre has remained committed to providing a range of accessible features online. To enable everyone to discover shows and digital content, gather vital access information and book tickets, the theatre offers accessibility and language support online. Everyone should have the opportunity to be able to access online content, yet there are over 14 million people across the UK who face barriers when visiting inaccessible websites. The numbers don’t stop there, there are a wide range of reasons why people need online support; • 15% Of UK residents are Neurodiverse • 2 Million of people in the UK have a visual impairment • 15% of the UK population have learning difficulties • 10% of the UK don’t speak English as their first language • 11.8 Million UK residents are aged 65 years and over To create an inclusive digital platform and to break down barriers, Curve provides all website visitors with Recite Me assistive technology. The Recite Me toolbar gives visitors the ability to fully customise the look of the website and ticketing platform for personal ease of use. Comprising of a number of accessibility and language features, the Recite Me toolbar includes text to speech functionality, fully customisable styling options, reading aids and a translation tool with over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices and more. Before lockdown, the Recite Me toolbar on Curve’s website supported over 800 people every month with accessibility and language support to discover new performances and book tickets online. Over a 12-month period, this equates to nearly 13,000 toolbar launches, highlighting the importance of creating an inclusive website to support everyone with online access challenges. Curve’s Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster said: “We believe everyone should be able to access high-quality arts and culture, both on and off Curve’s stages. With the Recite Me toolbar available on our website, the entire online experience is more accessible and personal for every visitor. It’s brilliant to see how many people have already used these features to engage with our theatre online.” Over 750,000 people annually engage with Curve through performances and projects in Leicester, across the UK, and internationally. Under the leadership of Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster, Curve has developed a reputation for producing, programming and touring a bold and diverse programme of musicals, plays, new work, dance and opera. All of this presented alongside a dynamic mix of community engagement, artist development and learning programmes, which firmly places audiences, artists and communities at the heart of everything the theatre does. In 2019, three Curve originated productions played in London’s West End; On Your Feet! (London Coliseum), Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ - The Musical (The Ambassadors Theatre) and White Christmas (Dominion Theatre).

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Creating an Inclusive University to Provide Equal Opportunity

30 Sep 2020 | news

The University of Sunderland believe that everybody should be treated equally, and opportunities afforded to all. Through hard work, best practicing and technology they continue their mission to support all. We recently spoke to Justine Gillespie the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Manager at the University of Sunderland to find out what they are doing to create an inclusive University... Please introduce yourself and your organisation My name is Justine Gillespie and I am the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Manager at the University of Sunderland. I joined the University in 2013 after over 25 years in retail. As an alumni of the University, I feel very proud to be working at the place that was instrumental in steering my career at the outset. I am passionate about its values especially that of inclusion and its focus on widening participation. We have 20,000 students at four campuses across Sunderland, London, and Hong Kong. Our key strengths are sciences, education, advanced manufacturing, software, enterprise and innovation, and creative industries. These strengths are reflected in our internationally excellent research, global partnerships, and knowledge transfer partnerships. We recently opened a new School of Medicine, with the first students starting in September 2019. What is your D&I mission for this year and beyond? Here at the University of Sunderland, we believe that everybody should be treated equally, and opportunities afforded to all. However, we also recognise that treating everyone equally has shortcomings when the playing field is not level. Where possible we take an approach that everyone should be treated according to their needs. Our inclusion strategy focuses on ensuring that everyone at the University, regardless of their background, identity or circumstance, feels valued, accepted and support to succeed. Positive change on inclusion can only come about through concerted, meaningful and intentional action. Can you share some D&I best practice examples? In 2017, the proportion of professorships held by women in UK Universities was declining, despite huge efforts to improve gender equality, and was sitting at 24%. In their report, Advance HE shows that the decline has stopped, but the percentage of female professors still remains at only 25.5%. Since 2013, the University has used gender-balanced panels and Equality Impact Assessments at each stage of the professorial appointments process (designed to ensure that the scheme does not discriminate against any disadvantaged people). Promotions workshops for all potential applicants were also organised, led by a panel of current female professors. As a result, the University can celebrate a different story. In the 2018 Internal Promotions rounds for professors, more than half of applicants and appointments were women. Figures show that 54% of our professors are women, which is more than double the national average and has steadily been growing since 2013. What are you doing across your digital landscape to be inclusive? The University takes the view that inclusion for all is about creating an environment and a culture where staff and students feel valued and included. In today’s work and especially so during this pandemic, everything we do is online. Therefore, it is an important aspect of our inclusion strategy to make our webpages as accessible as possible to everyone. Our digital content team was delighted to collaborate with Recite Me, to provide assistive technology to both prospective and current students. Since its launch in June 2020 the Recite Me accessibility toolbar has been used over 47,500 times. Can you share an example of D&I success at your organisation? During lockdown, we focused on setting up staff networks that were led by the needs of the staff. There was an overwhelming response to the call out for interested staff to set up these networks and within 6 months have set up 8 fully thriving groups who meet virtually every month. The networks are an incredibly powerful way to engage staff in shaping the culture of the University and whilst we are all working remotely these feel more important than ever before. Our networks are: • All Identities Included (LGBTQI+) • Fertility Support • SOLO (Living along or in isolation) • BAME Staff and Allies • CAPS (Parents and Carers) • Enabled (mind and body) Staff and Allies • Menopause Support Concluding message you would like people to take away We are an international and multicultural community, which values and encourages diversity. Inclusion is what is needed to give diversity real impact and drive towards a University where all students are empowered to thrive. Whilst diversity and inclusion often go hand in hand, inclusion is fundamentally about individual experience and allowing everyone to contribute and feel a part of our community and is a value at the heart of the University strategy.

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