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News & Media

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

Supporting All Customers During Storm Arwen

18 Jan 2022 | news

In November Storm Arwen created stress and panic as many people lost power and heat to their homes. In the days following people frantically tried their best to contact suppliers to resolve issues. For vulnerable customers, this event was even more difficult and extra support became paramount. On the 25th and 26th of November 2021, the UK Met Office issued what they described as a "rare red weather warning" as Storm Arwen ascended onto the UK. This forecast was of extreme winds, affecting thousands of homes and businesses. As people woke up on the morning of the 27th to catastrophic damage to their homes and lives, they rushed to their computers and phones to seek support from gas and electricity distributors. The distributors who provide Recite Me assistive technology across their websites collectively saw a 152% spike in usage over the same time period last year. The Recite me assistive toolbar provides people who have disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, and people who may speak English as a second language, with an inclusive experience online, to view and engage with content in ways that work best for their individual needs. Across Northern Gas Networks, SGN, Cadent Gas, Wales and West Utilities, Northern Powergrid, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, and Electricity North West Limited (ENWL), toolbar usage data shows nearly 5,000 people needed the aid of assistive technology viewing over 20,000 website pages. This shows the amazing support value of providing customers with the extra tools they need to access vital information hassle-free. Jo Giles Customer Safeguarding Senior Manager at Cadent commented, “Accessibility is key on any day - but when it comes to those events that mean that up-to-date information allows people to make choices to keep themselves, their families and those that they care for, it is vital. Thanks to the ease of use, Recite Me not only provides a wealth of options to support accessibility it also has the function to remember users, meaning that it continues with previously selected preferences for future updates.” As storms continued across the UK with Storm Barra Recite Me toolbar usage spiked for a second time showing the need to help people online. Recite Me is proud to work alongside many utility organisations as the industry continues to support customers in vulnerable circumstances online and offline with inclusive strategies.

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Top Trending Web Accessibility Content in 2021

10 Jan 2022 | news

It’s always rewarding when Recite Me blog articles perform well, as this tells us our content is relevant to reader needs and search queries. Analysing our article stats also provides valuable insight into ways we can plan future content to continue providing comprehensive information and constructive advice on website accessibility and inclusion factors. Web accessibility, diversity, and inclusion factors have been at the forefront of many business plans in the last year, with 2021 being dubbed “The Year of Accessibility”. At Recite Me, we’re passionate about the work we do and how our technology helps people. We’re also committed to finding more ways to put web accessibility factors in the spotlight and make online inclusion a globally familiar topic. Here’s a rundown of our most popular articles in 2021 and how they have helped support people with a range of online access needs. 1. Guest Blog - Life Online with Dyspraxia and Finding your Dream Job This post focuses on the real-life experience of Daniel Cobb, a People Advisor who only found out he had Dyspraxia at the age of 43. The average page view of nearly 6 minutes suggests that most visitors read the entire article. Read Daniel’s full article here. The success of this article tells us that more organisations are becoming familiar with lesser-known developmental coordination disorders (DCD) like dyspraxia, and are actively looking for ways to support neurodiverse employees. 2. Understanding The Equality Act and Website Accessibility As the name suggests, this article guides organisations through the Equality Act of 2010 and how web accessibility factors should be considered for compliance – especially for public sector bodies. Read the full Equality Act article here. In 2018, only 60% of local authority websites’ home pages were accessible to disabled people. The popularity of this article highlights that public sector organisations are working to comply with the most recent updates and requirements, which is great to see. 3. 2021: The Year of Accessibility, A Mini Guide This piece offers a rundown on the shortcomings of web accessibility in various sectors, identifies groups that need support online the most, and offers best-practice tips for accessibility-friendly web design. Read about the year of accessibility here. Also included were some 2020 data trends and COVID-19 information, which likely increased this article’s popularity. Many organisations scrambled to adapt to online models during the pandemic, and web accessibility became a significant factor in reaching consumers. 4. A New Standard of Website Accessibility Is On The Way Anyone who knows anything about website accessibility is aware of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. (WCAG). The current best practice is to conform with WCAG version 2.1 level AA. However, the new WCAG 3.0 guidelines are due to be published in 2022. Read about WCAG 3.0 here. WCAG is the gold standard when it comes to web accessibility, so it’s fantastic to see a high level of readership and know that more and more organisations are getting on board. 5. Assistive Technology: Who Needs It? A comprehensive article covering who needs assistive technology, why companies should try harder to provide it, and feedback from organisations and users on the benefits it offers. Find out who needs assistive technology here. During 2020 and 2021, online accessibility and inclusion needs have been at the forefront of business development, and the high volume of hits on this article reflects that. 6. How to Write an Awesome Accessibility Statement This article explains the benefits of providing a comprehensive accessibility statement and a step by step guide to writing, testing, and publishing one. Learn how to write an awesome accessibility statement here. The degree of interest in knowing how to write an accessibility statement and where to put it on a website suggests that businesses are aware of the importance of accessibility laws and the impacts of failing to be inclusive. 7. Supporting Disabled Shoppers Online This article describes the spending power of those with disabilities, the internet journeys of people who face online barriers, and the best ways to support disabled shoppers online. Read about supporting disabled shoppers here. We’re not surprised this article made it into our top 10, even though it was only posted in November. Approximately 20% of Brits, 25% of Americans and 17% of the Australians sit in the disability market. So if online retailers aren’t supporting disabled customers, they’re missing out. 8. Why is Web Accessibility Such a Big Deal? This is a popular question given the upsurge of interest in website accessibility and assistive technology solutions over the last year. So, we put together this easy-to-follow introduction to what being accessible means and how to achieve it. Find out why accessibility is such a big deal here. It’s rewarding to see people ask more questions about web accessibility on search engines. When organisations provide an inclusive website journey for those with disabilities, they improve website experiences for everyone in the process. So it’s a benefit to everyone. 9. How to Improve Brand Reputation Through Being Inclusive A specific look at how web accessibility affects inclusion and the brand benefits of being inclusive, taking into account the many ‘hidden disabilities’ that present online barriers. Learn how to improve your brand reputation by being inclusive here. By 2023, online sales are expected to account for 22% of global retail spending, and 52% of online consumers consider a company’s values when making a purchase. So savvy businesses are getting optimised for inclusion before it’s too late. 10. Recite Me: A Disability Confident Committed Employer This branded mini-article draws attention to the Disability Confident Employer Scheme, our involvement, and how important the scheme is regarding diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Read about being a disability confident employer here. We’re delighted this article made the cut in our top 10, as we are passionate advocates of growing a diverse staff. Readership numbers suggest that we’re not the only ones, which is fantastic progress. We hope this recap has helped you catch up on accessibility developments last year and given you plenty of great ideas and incentives to be more inclusive in 2022. This year we’ll be helping more and more brands to provide inclusive online journeys by spreading the word about the importance of diversity, web accessibility, and inclusion. So keep your eyes out for more great content coming your way! In the meantime… What was your favourite accessibility-based post from last year? Which topics should we cover more often? Are you interested in writing a guest article for us? Feel free to drop us a line and let us know!

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Accessibility Mission Milestone with Ross Linnett

16 Dec 2021 | news

When Recite Me was founded in 2009, the mission was always to change the online world for the better. With so many people facing online barriers, the primary goal was to achieve accessibility for all. At the time, computers and smartphones were already a dominant feature in most of our daily lives. However, what none of us envisioned was a time when these devices would be our only connection to the outside world. Flash forward to 2020 and 2021, and there have been several times when everyday tasks like shopping, banking, and communicating with loved ones have only been possible through a screen. This only made our mission more important. As the year draws to a close, our founder and CEO Ross Linnett looks back on how attitudes towards online accessibility are changing, and reflects on our progress towards the goal of achieving accessibility for all… I was sitting at our Recite Me Christmas party a couple of weeks ago when it hit me... We now have over 50 members of staff and offices in the UK, USA, and Australia. How amazing is that? And don’t get me started on the fact it’s nearly 2022 already. It really made me sit back and take stock. The time during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a bit of an oxymoron. Days, weeks, and months have sped by at the speed of light, while also somehow feeling like they lasted an eternity. But I’m so very proud of the team and could not be happier with how things are going - especially as it’s been a tough couple of years for many people. To put our goals and efforts into context and give you an end-of-year summary, I think this image is both suitably festive and portrays everything that we’re trying to achieve here at Recite Me. Here’s another way of putting it. “For people without disabilities, technology makes things easier. For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible.” IBM Training Manual That was written in 1991. For people like me who still think of anything that happened in the 90s as about 15 years ago (I know I’m not the only one!), then you need to double it. Thirty years. Thirty years since some of the biggest tech companies began promoting accessibility and inclusion as the right thing to do. Yet, it’s taken a couple of decades for inclusion to become front and centre and for the mindset of the market to align with the fact that something as simple as building a ramp can help everyone, not just those who need it. Recite Me in 2021 “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, Website User Experience Expert I’m happy to report that hundreds of companies have been doing an amazing job on accessibility and inclusion this year. We all know there was a sharp shift towards online commerce and communication due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has helped considerably because the focus on accessibility and inclusion changed from something that should be done to something that has to be done. Many organisations had to adapt quickly to online business models while also supporting the needs of their customers. That’s where Recite Me was able to help. Assistive technology is synonymous with the physical world concept of building a ramp for disabled users. Yes, it helps those who need it most. But in reality, it allows everyone to enjoy more comfortable and customised internet journeys. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we’ve taken on over 530 new clients, and the use of our assistive toolbar has been growing at a rate of 80% year on year. The Recite Me toolbar is now installed on over 3,700 websites in total, helping people who face online access barriers to access over 17.6 million web pages. Plus, we’re still offering to host a free accessible and inclusive landing page for any business where visitors can access important COVID-19 messages and updates. This accessibility pledge supports over 120 clients, helping over 87,000 individual users access COVID-19 information. All things considered, we’re making great progress towards our ultimate goal of achieving accessibility for all. Here are some of the ways our team has worked towards that goal over the past year. Working Closely with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) By working closely with guidelines provided by the diligent team of experts who form The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), we’ve been able to keep the four cornerstone WCAG principles at the core of our software. We’ve also been proactive in adapting as WCAG guidelines evolve. In 2022 we’ll see the implementation of WCAG 3.0, a significant step forward from the latest WCAG 2.1 version. WCAG 3.0 will make websites, apps, PDFs, ePub, and other emerging technologies even more accessible for people with disabilities. Of course, what our software won’t do is get businesses out of the work needed to make their website initially accessible. And we’re not a ‘check the box on compliance’ product either. Going back to our ramp analogy, think of your website like the ramp itself. It must already be well built and fit for purpose. Recite Me technology is what you add to make it suitable for all and give people a choice of how they gain access – like keeping the ramp clear of leaves and snow so everyone can use it. Growing Our International Team COVID-19 may have acted as a catalyst for web accessibility and inclusion factors. But the movement was already gaining traction long before that. Organisations among the first to embrace web accessibility were already discovering the positive effects on brand reputation, workplace diversity, reduced staff turnover, and all-round better business efficiency. Good news travels fast – as does the fear of losing out to a competitor by not adapting to change quickly enough! As companies worldwide began taking a more active interest, Recite Me responded by expanding our team to cope with international demand. In 2021, we added more full-time employees to our UK and US bases, and took on our first full-time staff to cover the Australian and Middle Eastern markets. Using tech for good allows us to attract amazing candidates from across the globe, and I couldn’t be happier with the dedicated and passionate inclusion-driven team we are creating. Mission Focus With every new client, we inch closer and closer to achieving our accessibility and inclusion goals. We’re delighted to provide our assistive toolbar to several big-name brands and industry leaders, including Boots, British Gas, and Volkswagen, as well as an increasing number of education facilities, healthcare providers, charities, nonprofits and public sector organisations. All of the sectors we serve are doing a fantastic job of supporting disabled website visitors, and I’m incredibly proud of the difference we’re able to make together. Our most recent 12-month stats show that: Over 3.3 million people used our toolbar Over 18.5 million web pages were accessed Individual styling features were activated over 4.1 million times Users viewed an average of 5.62 pages per session, compared to the average website journey of just 2.8. Over 33.8 million pieces of online content were read aloud using our on-screen reader. Over 13.5 million pieces of online content were translated into another language. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most this year is expanding my network of industry contacts and spending more time discussing and spreading the word about accessibility, diversity, and inclusion. I’ve been part of some fantastic webinars with inspirational people from around the world. In October, we launched our very first ‘What Does Accessibility Mean to Me?’ week. And it could not have gone better. The team worked really hard to plan and promote the week, and I was blown away with the number of organisations and people who took part: 115 companies got involved We reached over 600,000 people across LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Over 450 people signed up for our live round-table webinar discussion. Accessibility in 2022 What do we want to do next year? The same thing we do every year... Find the right people, and change the world! But in a positive, inclusive, and accessible way that benefits everyone, rather than an evil maniacal mouse kind of way! In 2022, we’ll be continuing to push boundaries. We’ll be forging forward with our mission to make the online world accessible to all by: Helping more and more brands to provide inclusive online journeys. Keeping up with our industry networking and round table/webinar discussions to spread the word about the importance of diversity and inclusion. Continuing to find, train, and retain the best people for our teams worldwide. Finding new ways to put website accessibility factors in the spotlight and make online inclusion a globally familiar topic. Last Thoughts This is not a passing fad. Accessibility and inclusion trends aren’t going anywhere, and the demand for inclusive websites continues to grow exponentially year on year. So if your organisation isn’t already taking steps to make your products and services inclusive, now is the time to start. Don’t wait to begin your accessibility journey. Contact our team today or book a live demonstration of our toolbar to see it in action and discover how we can help you and your customers in 2022.

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Recite Me Support Feeding Families This Christmas

15 Dec 2021 | news

This year Recite Me has entered into the Christmas giving spirit by supporting Feeding Families, a local charity based in the North East of England. Feeding Families offer support, hope, and security to any person experiencing food poverty. They believe that everyone has the right to be able to feed themselves and their families, offering emergency food and support packages and promoting wellbeing and mental health. With the generous donations from our amazing clients, team and partners we headed to the shops to stock up on supplies for Christmas hampers. We bought food items such as soup, meat and cakes, to help a family in need make Christmas dinner. Then, on Tuesday 14th December some of the Recite Me team headed to Feeding Families HQ in Blaydon-on-Tyne to drop off our donations. We spent the morning helping to pack up Christmas hampers that will be distributed to struggling families across the North East. We were in awe of the hard work that the regular volunteers do to keep this incredible charity going. The Recite Me team is thrilled to be able to support this fantastic cause and play a part in making a difference for families this Christmas. It is not too late to support this amazing charity, who make a difference to so many people's lives, you can still donate via our Just Giving page. Thank you to our amazing clients, team, and partners who have joined us in supporting Feeding Families this Christmas, we have been overwhelmed by the support. Merry Christmas everyone!

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A Digital Divide: Prioritising Online Accessibility for the Elderly

13 Dec 2021 | news

Catholic Homes, a not-for-profit organisation that provides home care, residential and retirement living in Perth, Australia, has implemented online accessibility tools to deliver services to all. Catholic Homes aims to encourage individuals to remain active and busy for as long as possible and do the things that bring them joy. Approximately 4 million people in Australia are aged 65 years or older and may encounter digital barriers when accessing information due to disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments or if they speak English as a second language. Communications and Marketing Manager Roley Myers at Catholic Homes, said, as part of the organisation’s inclusive approach, website visitors are now able to access a wide range of accessibility and language support tools to enhance and make their online experience easier. “Here at Catholic Homes, accessibility is extremely important to us. We are committed to ensuring all people can access information and services in a way that best meets their individual needs,” Mr Myers said. “Diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of our responses, so we are incredibly proud to be able to provide Recite Me’s innovative assistive technology across our website. “The internet can be challenging for some people, particularly those who lack the tools they need to adequately understand or communicate with others.” The Recite Me assistive toolbar on the Catholic Homes’ website includes 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. If you would like more information on how your organisation can provide inclusive recruitment by using assistive technology, contact our team or book a real-time demonstration of our toolbar. Making the digital world inclusive for all.

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Website Accessibility Considerations for Digital Agencies

06 Dec 2021 | news

Digital agencies have comprehensive knowledge and significant experience in the online marketing world. They help build stronger brands by designing kickass websites, running campaigns, and conducting market research to help businesses become more competitive. However, when digital agencies aren’t set up for online inclusion and web accessibility isn’t a core part of the strategy, their clients could be missing out on hundreds of thousands of customers. The simple fact is that many digital platforms still lack effective accessibility solutions that create equitable online experiences. Forbes Magazine estimates there are around 1.3 billion people with disabilities worldwide, although the World Health Organization suggests this figure is closer to 1.6 billion. Current statistics indicate that 1 in 5 people has a disability that could affect web accessibility. Who Needs Support Online Not all disabilities are visible. Anyone lacking the tools they need to understand or communicate is at a significant disadvantage in the online world. Access barriers affect anyone with: Decreased Vision - At least 2.2 billion people globally have a vision impairment. Learning Difficulties - Dyslexia alone affects at least 15% of us. Autism – Autism rates vary by nation, but affect between 1 in 54 and 1 in 100 people. Language Differences – 87% of the global population speaks a first language other than English. Even in English-speaking nations, up to 1 in every 5 households speaks a language other than English at home. Neurological Conditions – One in four people will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Attention Disorders – Around 5% of the population suffers from attention disorders like ADHD. Physical Disabilities – Millions of individuals have physical disabilities that make using standard keyboards and on-screen navigation difficult. It is the role of digital agencies to keep up with all of the latest trends and optimise their client’s websites for performance. It is therefore essential that new websites adopt an inclusive design. Website Accessibility: The Build VS User Experience Poorly designed websites make it difficult for people with disabilities to access the information and services they need. It doesn’t matter how good the website looks, if it’s not built with accessibility in mind, the site will fall short because many visitors cannot: Read the copy due to font, text size, or text spacing. Read the copy due to poor colour contrasts between background and foreground. Use a mouse or touchpad. Focus on the relevant section of the copy. Concentrate due to distracting graphics and image carousels. Responsibility & Accountability Global accessibility guidelines exist to ensure those who face access barriers are not excluded from online life. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the gold standard when it comes to web accessibility. All businesses should aim for compliance level AA, but compliance is a legal requirement for many government and public-facing organisations. As technological advancement continues, WCAG recommendations evolve, legal requirements become increasingly stringent, and accessibility factors are ever more critical for SEO. Therefore, digital agencies need to advise their clients on aspects for overall optimisation and compliance in addition to user experience. According to research by UsableNet Inc., the number of web accessibility lawsuits in 2021 is on track to increase by 20% year on year. As digital agencies are ultimately responsible for their clients online content, they risk accountability issues if a website is not compliant and a lawsuit arises. Providing Choice to Customise Online Experiences The work shouldn’t stop at inclusive website design or WCAG and legal compliance. Yes, these factors will make a website more accessible, but they won’t make it inclusive. To offer true inclusion, websites must provide choice so people can customise how they view and consume the information. That’s where assistive technology like Recite Me comes in. The Recite Me Assistive Toolbar supports a diverse range of internet users by providing various tools that allow for a fully customisable experience. Our accessibility features can be used individually or combined to make multiple adjustments for ultimate ease of use. Users can: Personalise font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read. Utilise the mask screen tool, which isolates parts of the page to help with focus. Use the ruler tool to make reading easier. Download content as an audio file as an alternative to reading. Convert page content into over 100 different on-screen languages. Have the page read aloud in a choice of 35 different languages. Customise PDF documents and have them read aloud or translated. “A digital agency with a strong appreciation for accessibility will ensure the core principles of inclusive design are embedded in the project from the outset and throughout. At Arch, accessible thinking starts as early as our initial review of a brief, wherein we help guide our clients as to how they can rescope their thinking to accommodate a wide range of users with diverse needs." Matthew O'Connor, Commercial Director, Arch Recite Me Data Recite me is now installed on over 3,500 websites, and over the last 12 months, our data shows that: The Recite Me assistive toolbar was launched over 3.1 million times Over 17.6 million web pages were viewed using the toolbar Over 4.2 million individual styling changes were made 13.3 million pieces of content were translated into different languages 32 million pieces of content were read aloud Recite Me Implementation Recite Me software can be installed on any HTML-based website creation platform, including Wix, Square Space, Shopify, and many more. Installation can usually be completed in under an hour, and typically involves the addition of just a few lines of JavaScript or the download of our WordPress plugin. Once installed, you can: Extend your Recite Me license to work on additional domains like intranets, Moodle portals, and microsites. Access automated monthly reporting on user numbers, feature usage, browser information, and mobile versus desktop usage etc., all linked through Google Analytics. Take advantage of your dedicated account manager to get even more insights and learn how to market yourself as an accessible and inclusive organisation. Once installed, website visitors can set their preferences for customisation. Individual settings persist across all websites and digital platforms they visit using our toolbar. 5 Key Accessibility Takeaways for Digital Agencies It is the responsibility of any reputable agency to educate their clients on the importance of accessibility and why it's the right thing to do. Follow these steps to ensure you are tapping into the entirety of the potential target market for your clients by making your services as inclusive as possible. 1. Integrate Accessibility Factors into the Website Build The following principles make new website builds much more accessible. Use a content management system that supports accessibility. Use headings correctly to structure your content. Include alt text for all images. Give descriptive names to your links. Be mindful of colour use and colour contrasts. Ensure forms are designed for accessibility. Ensure responsiveness on all device types (mobile, tablet and desktop). Be keyboard-friendly for navigation. 2. Familiarise yourself with WCAG recommendations and aim for compliance level AA. 3. Make sure you are aware of any legal obligations based on your clients’ industry and global locations. Examples include: The Equality Act (UK) The European Accessibility Act (Europe) The Disability Discrimination Act (Australia) The Americans with Disabilities Act (USA) 4. Keep up to date with changing trends and SEO best practices and include accessibility best practices and recommendations in all of your client appraisals and proposals. 5. Use Assistive Technology. Assistive software solutions bridge the gap between accessibility and usability and promote inclusivity by allowing people to access websites in the way that is best suited to them. Contact our team or book a demo to learn more about web accessibility solutions and how we can help you to provide your clients with the best possible service and results.

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McGregor Boyall Deliver an Accessible Recruitment Journey

30 Nov 2021 | news

McGregor Boyall provides online accessibility and language tools to enable a diverse range of individuals to search and apply for job opportunities. McGregor Boyall is a global recruitment consultancy all about opportunity. Encouraging and valuing diversity within its workforce. To support candidates who encounter barriers when online, McGregor Boyall now provides accessibility and language support tools for those with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, and those who speak English as a second language. Recent data shows that in 2019 roughly half of the people with disabilities were in employment (53.2%), compared with just over four out of five non-disabled people (18.8%). Nicholas Eveleigh, Marketing Manager, at McGregor Boyall Associates Ltd, commented, “As a Disability Confident Committed Employer, we are continually looking for ways to ensure our recruitment process is as inclusive and accessible as possible. “We continually strive to widen the talent pool from which we recruit from, for both our business and that of our clients, as we believe unequivocally that a genuinely diverse talent base within an organisation constitutes a strong and sustainable corporate asset. By making our websites and the ability to apply for jobs more accessible to those who may have previously felt excluded, we hope to demonstrate that we are welcoming of disabled and neurodiverse talent.” The Recite Me assistive toolbar on the McGregor Boyall website includes 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. To customise your recruitment journey on the McGregor Boyall website, select Accessibility. For more information on how you can provide an inclusive online experience book a demo with a member of our team.

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Pushing for Online Accessibility in the Post-COVID Era

29 Nov 2021 | news

Unprecedented times. Toilet paper shortage. Social distancing. The new normal. These are just a few phrases that have dominated our daily lives and social media feeds over the last couple of years. All of us have faced challenges in one form or other, whether political, economic, or social. But possibly no group more so than our disabled community. On December 3rd, we’ll be partnering with PurpleSpace to celebrate International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPWD). The theme for this year’s IDPWD is "Fighting for rights in the post-COVID era.” Now that the ‘new normal’ appears to have arrived and we begin to move forward and reclaim our lives and livelihoods, there’s no better time to look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the digital landscape. So, what online challenges did people face during COVID-19? What was done to help? And what changes are still required in the future to achieve our goal of accessibility for all? Join us as we take an in-depth look. The Effect of COVID-19 on the Digital World In times of stress and uncertainty, vulnerable members of society are put under additional pressure. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we all got used to a different way of life - working from home, seeing less of our family and friends, and avoiding crowded places. We shifted to a lifestyle where more and more of our daily lives took place online. For most people, this was a frustrating period of adjustment. However, it made life incredibly challenging for others because many websites and apps are not accessible to people who face online barriers. What is an Online Access Barrier? Online access barriers occur when an element of a website’s design or presentation makes it difficult to read or interact with the content. Users usually struggle for one of four main reasons: 1. Reading barriers – Including unsuitable font choice, text size, or the colour contrast between text and background. 2. Comprehension barriers – When web copy uses overly complex language or terminology, the page doesn’t flow logically, or when alt tags and link descriptions are missing. 3. Navigation barriers – Website errors like empty links and buttons, missing input labels on forms, and missing document language often make keyboard navigation impossible. 4. Trust barriers – Flashing images, videos, or distracting image carousels affect focus and can act as triggers for seizures. Who is Affected The theme of last year’s IDPWD was “Not all disabilities are visible”. This is something that is often overlooked. Did you know that 15% of the global population lives with some sort of disability? That’s over 1 billion people. In addition to physical disabilities, online providers must also make adjustments so their websites are accessible to people with: Visual impairments - At least 2.2 billion people worldwide have a vision impairment. Learning difficulties - Dyslexia affects at least 15% of the population, and a further 5%-10% suffer from attention disorders like ADHD. Literacy and language barriers - Around 1% of the population in developed nations have basic reading and writing issues, and 87% of internet users speak languages other than English. Neurological disorders – Approximately 450 million people are living with a mental or neurological condition. Examples include epilepsy, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. Developmental disorders – Around one in every hundred people are on the autism spectrum. Temporary disabilities – Millions of new cases of chronic pain, fatigue, and brain injuries occur each year due to accidental injury. How Are People Affected People with one or more of the conditions listed above may not be able to use a mouse, read web copy properly, focus on the information they need, or find their way around a busy screen. During COVID-19, inaccessible websites and apps made it either difficult or impossible for disabled site visitors to: Manage finances Shop Pay bills Work Apply for jobs Learn Access general information Keep in touch with friends and family COVID-19 Website Accessibility Trends Throughout 2020 and 2021, we’ve seen a significant rise in the number of businesses looking to make their websites inclusive. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we’ve taken on over 300 new clients across a range of sectors. In 2020 alone, our assistive toolbar usage increased by 20%, and over 47 million individual styling adaptions were made. Recite me is now installed on over 3,500 websites, and our data shows that in the last 12 months: The Recite Me assistive toolbar was launched over 3 million times Over 16.5 million web pages were viewed using the toolbar 12.3 million pieces of content were translated into different languages 31 million pieces of content were read aloud COVID-19 Online Support In March 2020, Recite Me launched our accessibility pledge. Ever since, we have been offering to host a free accessible and inclusive landing page for any business where visitors can access important COVID-19 messages and updates. Our pledge pages continue to support over 120 clients, helping over 87,000 individual users access COVID-19 information. Digital Accessibility in the Workplace There was a significant shift towards remote working during the pandemic, the after-effects of which are still lingering. Experts estimate 25-30% of the workforce will work remotely for several days per week by the end of the year, and 50% of workers will be remote by 2030. Working remotely is favoured by many for the flexibility it offers. However, many employees report the technology they are given doesn’t operate correctly in a remote setting. Others find the transition from in-person to online communication challenging – including our founder and CEO, Ross Linnett. “I’m dyslexic, as are several other employees at the company. Because of that, we try to limit meetings to 20 minutes for increased focus, as a limited attention span is a common dyslexic trait. In the office, there are plenty of social cues that someone is losing focus – fiddling with a pen, looking out the window etc. But on Zoom calls, that’s harder to pick up on. So learning how to deal with that was a challenge for me.” Ross Linnett, Recite Me Founder and CEO Employee struggles like this and myriad more are why organisations like PurpleSpace exist. PurpleSpace is the world's only professional development hub for disability network leaders. Offering learning and development programmes, consultancy for cultural change, and an exclusive suite of member resources, the PurpleSpace team are driving business change on disability from the inside out. “As we highlight in our Five Trust Tests, employees with disabilities are increasingly looking for evidence that organisations are open to change. Many advantages have come from working in a super-charged digital era during Covid-19. Organisations should be encouraged to keep the positive aspects as we work towards a new future. Appointing senior leaders who are responsible for digital accessibility across the organisation, both in terms of employee and customer access, is a good place to start. Brendan Roach, Director of Strategy and Networkology, Purple Space How Does Recite Me Help? A proven way of supporting people online is by utilising assistive technology. Recite Me’s assistive toolbar supports a diverse range of staff in the workplace by providing various tools that allow users to create a fully customisable experience. Our accessibility features can be used individually or combined to make multiple adjustments for ultimate ease of use. Users can: Personalise font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read. Utilise the mask screen tool, which isolates parts of the page to help with focus. Use the ruler tool to make reading easier. Download content as an audio file as an alternative to reading. Convert page content into over 100 different on-screen languages. Have the page read aloud in a choice of 35 different languages. Customise PDF documents and have them read aloud or translated. What Can You Do? We invite you to join the fight for disabled rights in the post-COVID era and get involved with IDPWD. By learning from the experiences of people living with disabilities during the pandemic, we have the power to reduce barriers faced by people in both the online and physical world. You can access a range of downloadable resources here. If you’d like to learn more about nurturing and supporting your disabled employees, you can contact PurpleSpace for information and support. To discover how assistive technology can help make your business more inclusive, you can contact our team or request a toolbar demonstration.

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Aanchal Women's Aid Provide Vital Support to all Women Online

25 Nov 2021 | news

On International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2021, we are proud to be joining together with amazing inclusive organisations that provide emotional and practical support to all individuals affected by violence. Aanchal Women’s Aid does just this. As a family and community support network, Aanchal provides a safe place where people find hope so they can believe and say, ‘I matter’. To offer this opportunity to all, Aanchal grants all website users access to information and services with Recite Me accessibility and language tools. The assistive technology on Aanchal Women’s Aid website provides support to those with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, cognitive or neurological disorders, and those who speak English as a second language. Su Bhuhi, CEO at Aanchal Women’s Aid commented… The accessibility and language toolbar on Aanchal Women’s Aid website provides 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 options. According to the Office for National Statistics the police recorded 259,324 offenses flagged as domestic abuse-related in the period March to June 2020. This represents a 7% increase from 242,413 in the same period in 2019. Everyone was affected by the COVID-19 lockdown in some way or another, but for those who experienced violence during this hard time, this was amplified and needs to change. Aanchal Women’s Aid works towards making change, alleviating the suffering of individuals from domestic abuse, and supporting them to rebuild positive healthy lives. Join us to raise awareness for International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2021 by using the hashtags #WhiteRibbonDay and #AllMenCan. For more information on how your organisation can provide an inclusive online experience by utilising assistive technology, contact our team or book a real-time demonstration of our toolbar.

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Emphasizing the Importance of Online Accessibility on The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

24 Nov 2021 | news

November 25th, 2021 marks the 21st International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Together with people from around the world, we are taking action and raising awareness for the eradication of violence. Alongside ‘White Ribbon Day’ and ‘All Men Can’ we are encouraging people to change behaviors towards gender-based violence individually and collectively. Recite Me is proud to carry the torch for the cause and support the 1 in 3 women around the world who have been a victim of physical or sexual violence. A Widespread but Preventable Problem Despite years of lawmaking, conventions, acts, and resolutions, violence against women and girls continues to be a pervasive problem across the globe, and the data suggests an even more dire situation for those with disabilities. 70% of people with disabilities have experienced some type of domestic abuse. 53% of cases of domestic violence or intimate partner violence were not reported to the police. 26 percent (1 in 4) of adults in the United States have some type of disability. People with disabilities are three times as likely to be sexually assaulted as their peers without disabilities. Violence against women is preventable. The health sector has an important role to play to provide comprehensive health care to women subjected to violence, and as an entry point for referring women to other support services they may need. We Can Help Recite Me assistive technology helps over 25 domestic violence support organizations across the country provide online access to vital information by creating an inclusive, barrier-free user experience on their websites. Our assistive technology toolbar is designed to make websites as accessible as possible, providing equal access to information, some of which may be critical or even life-saving. Domestic violence organizations leading the way for inclusion Recite Me assistive Technology is used by a wide variety of state, regional, and local domestic violence organizations to provide a barrier-free experience for all visitors. Our partners include: Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Violence Free Colorado DC SAFE The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence Esperanza Shelter The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence Jane Doe - The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence Domestic and Sexual Abuse Crisis Center of Warren County Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence Domestic Violence Intervention Program The New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence Aanchal Women’s Aid Providing Support for Those Who Need it Most Survivors of domestic violence may be less likely to reach out for help for several reasons, so providing accessible information online is crucial in providing support for this vulnerable population. Websites equipped with the Recite Me toolbar provide users with many customization options ranging from font type and background colors to line spacing and reading tools. The toolbar also offers translation functionality for over 100 languages, 35 of which can be read aloud. This is especially helpful for users who experience low vision or speak English as a second language. Over the past year, Recite me has helped thousands of users access hundreds of websites, barrier-free. 205,047 Unique Users 568,023 Pages viewed Screen Reader: 882,082 Translation: 169,259 Styling Options: 67,918 Reading Aids: 16,263 *Last 12 Months, nonprofit sector data Client Feedback Marcos Zubia, Director of Development, Esperanza Shelter, Inc. Partnering with Recite Me was one of the best decisions our agency has made. It aligns with our accessibility policy and provides, clients information that is life-saving with no limitations, and ensures that we meet our clients where they are. Having accessibility is key to saving lives and aligns with our mission. Jennifer Wesberry, DC SAFE Survivors need access to accurate and timely information. Without it, decision-making can be hampered or dramatically limited and subsequently restrict full participation in the services available in their community. Recite Me helps us to meet this head-on, to ensure that individuals with disability and language access needs have options. Join us in taking a stand While a great amount of progress has been made, violence against women continues to be a problem all over the world. Recite Me provides assistive technology which helps make support organizations’ websites equally accessible to all, regardless of disabilities or spoken language. Please join us in taking a stand in the fight for the elimination of violence against women.

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Pony Power Therapies Enhances the Well-Being of Children and Adults with Online Accessibility Tools

23 Nov 2021 | news

Pony Power Therapies now provide online assistive technology to support a diverse range of adults and children to book therapeutic horse-riding lessons online. Pony Power Therapies is a non-profit organisation in the Ramapo Mountains in Mahwah, NJ, USA, that uses horses and other farm animals to enhance the physical, social, and emotional well-being of those with developmental difficulties, physical disabilities, learning difficulties, and mental health issues. 61 million adults in the US live with a disability (26%) that may prevent access to online resources and services. To continue to enhance the lives of those who face accessibility barriers, Pony Power Therapies believed it was essential to continue to extend their values to the digital world. With the introduction of Recite Me assistive technology on the Pony Power Therapies website, those who encounter barriers are able to customise their experience to suit their own specific needs. Kerry Barrett, Development Director at Pony Power Therapies "We are so happy to be able to offer the Recite Me assistive toolbar on our website. Inclusivity and accessibility are at the core of our mission, as we are a non-profit organization that uses horses and an accessible farm to serve anyone who needs extra support. It makes sense to extend those same values to our website." The Recite Me innovative toolbar has transferable features such as translation, read-aloud, and styling assistance. This includes adjustments to colour font type and size. To find out more about the Recite Me toolbar and how you can make a difference for those who face online barriers explore the support features here.

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Family Law in Partnership Meet the Demand for Digital Accessibility

17 Nov 2021 | news

As insurance and law organisations across the country have adapted their approach to providing legal expertise to help slow the spread of COVID-19, more content than ever has migrated online. Family Law in Partnership (FLiP), a leading family law firm in London, provides online access tools to enable everyone to access exceptional legal expertise with care and compassion barrier-free. FLIP has implemented Recite Me assistive technology to provide support to those with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, cognitive or neurological disorders, and those who speak English as a second language. Divorce and separation can be a distressing and difficult time, to make this slightly easier, FLiP has developed a unique hub of emotional and practical support to enhance the wellbeing of clients all of which can be accessed using the Recite Me toolbar. Matilda Pigneguy, Legal and Marketing Assistant at Family Law in Partnership commented, “At Flip equality and diversity is at the heart of our firm. We are committed to treating all our clients, and all of those working with our firm, equally. With the addition of Recite Me’s accessibility tool, our website users are now able to access our website in the way that best suits them.” The accessibility and language toolbar on the Family Law in Partnership website provides 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. If you would like more information on how your organisation can provide an inclusive online experience by using assistive technology, contact our team or book a real-time demonstration of our toolbar.

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Recite Me Pledge to Support Australian Businesses with a Free Accessible COVID-19 Landing Page

16 Nov 2021 | news

As we continue to provide free accessible COVID-19 landing pages to businesses, we have extended our offering to Australian organisations to ensure everyone can be kept up to date with the latest COVID-19 information and how it will impact them. Following the uncertainty of COVID-19 in Australia, Recite Me believes in barrier-free and inclusive access to vital information, granting companies the ability to share their messages with all staff and customers. Your free inclusive landing page will automatically launch the Recite Me accessibility and language toolbar, which can be customised by the user to suit their specific needs. Features include text-to-speech functionality, styling options, reading aids, and an on-demand live translation feature that boasts over 100 languages, including 35 text-to-speech and styling options. To create your free accessible landing page, contact the Recite Me team with the page you would like to make accessible and we will guide you through the process. Support thousands of people to access vital COVID-19 information In March 2020, when the UK faced a national lockdown, Recite Me launched our free accessible landing page that has helped over 86,000 people read and understand digital Coronavirus messages. 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.” 20% of the global population is living with some form of disability, which can make accessing online information challenging. The Recite Me assistive toolbar removes online barriers enabling those with a disability, learning difficulty, visual impairment, cognitive or neurological disorder, and those who speak English as a second language to thoroughly understand the messages being conveyed. Since we first launched, our accessibility pledge has helped hundreds of businesses across a range of sectors to share COVID-19 related information and updates. This includes Volkswagen, Virgin Money, and Network Rail. If you think your business needs support to make your online COVID-19 related information inclusive to all, please contact us now, or visit the Recite Me website to find out more about how our accessible landing pages work and how to create your own.

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Prioritising Web Accessibility in the Law and Insurance Sectors

15 Nov 2021 | news

If you work for a law firm or insurance company, managing risk is part of your job. But, what if we told you that you might already be taking an unnecessary risk? By not making your website accessible, you risk missing out on 25% of your target market. On average, 1 in 5 people has a disability that can prevent them from accessing information online. Inequality in accessing information leads to inequality in access to products and services, creating even more disparity for people who already feel marginalised and vulnerable. We’ve chosen to discuss insurance and legal firms together because of the many synergies between the two sectors: Both services involve complex language that can be challenging for anyone to read, let alone vulnerable customers facing online access barriers. Both services are typically required in times of immense stress or hardship. Choosing the right policy or service is an emotional purchase because customers are looking to protect their lives, livelihoods, homes, health, and family. Vulnerable Customers Explained “Nobody should be at a disadvantage just because they read and understand information differently.” Ross Linnett, Recite Me Founder and CEO There is a general expectation that buying insurance or legal cover can be done in seconds within just a few clicks. But for those who face online access barriers, it’s not that straightforward. People with disabilities have to spend way more time, effort, and energy purchasing cover or getting an accurate quote. Why? Because the way many websites are designed and presented makes them inaccessible. It’s worth remembering that not all disabilities are physical. Many hidden and temporary disabilities also affect website accessibility. Here are just a few examples of conditions that can make accessing information online challenging: Visual impairments Deafblindness Colour blindness Dyslexia Hyperlexia Dyspraxia ADHD Epilepsy Autism Temporary or permanent physical impairments Speaking and reading English as a second language It’s incredibly difficult for these customers to feel that they’re in control and getting the best advice and deals because it’s so much harder to access and absorb information when they are researching their options. Online Access Barriers By excluding vulnerable customers from accessing the information on your website, you are doing them an injustice. You’re also actively blocking up to 20% of the population from accessing your services. Here’s how: Some website functions are unavailable to customers using screen readers to compensate for vision deficits Those with hearing loss cannot follow demonstration or explainer videos. Colourblind people cannot read text on websites with poor colour contrasts between the background and foreground. Websites using certain fonts and pages with lots of underlining or italics are impossible for people with dyslexia to read. Flashing content and distracting image carousels are not welcoming to people with epilepsy or cognitive/neurological disabilities. People with mobility issues rely on keyboard navigation as they are unable to use a tablet or mouse. Those not confident reading in English are afraid to make purchases because they don’t understand the long sentences and complicated terminology. In many cases where insurance and legal assistance is required, customers are already under significant pressure. For example, in stressful situations such as bereavement or divorce, people become overwhelmed and struggle to understand information - regardless of whether they have a pre-existing condition or not. So, the clearer and easier your information is to access, the better it is for everyone. “Failure to communicate with vulnerable consumers in ways they can understand may result in an increased risk. Consumers may not be able to understand the information they are sent or may struggle to communicate their needs.” The Financial Conduct Authority Report, July 2020 Equal Support for Everyone Everybody should have the right to protect their loved ones and belongings and access legal advice and support when they need it. Yet, we continue to see access barriers across the legal, insurance, and finance sectors. Research by QA Vector revealed that: Only 35% say accessibility is among their top strategic concerns. Only 25% embed accessibility testing into software development. Over 70% indicate no clear ownership of digital accessibility within corporate governance. Less than 30% have reliable or meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) for accessibility. Attention to accessibility is usually only driven by legal action or complaints. That last point is particularly disheartening. There are several reasons why making your website accessible is the right thing to do, and - spoiler alert - the law is one of them! It’s pretty crazy to think that so many firms don’t make reasonable adjustments themselves when so much of their core daily business revolves around handling legalities on behalf of other entities. Companies Leading the Way We are delighted to welcome firms committed to providing inclusive online journeys and we’re proud to work with several organisations in the law and insurance sectors already. Our current client list includes: Cura Cura offers accessible insurance services to people who have difficulty buying policies that cover life insurance, critical illness, and income protection. With diversity and inclusion as a focal point, the team at Cura is passionate about driving inclusive insurance forward to help as many people as possible. “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.” Kathryn Knowles, Founder Keystone Law Keystone Law brings a particularly modern attitude to the legal marketplace. Their motto is “Where innovation delivers results”, and the firm prides itself on doing things differently. Their unique approach includes using bespoke technology and contemporary working practices to revolutionise the industry. “There’s a real element of loyalty and trust that comes with making content more accessible. We don’t want clients to visit our website for 30 seconds and not get what they need. We want them to be engaged and genuinely read what’s available.” Georgiana Foster, PR and Communications Manager Lindsays Lindsays is a Scottish law firm with offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Dundee. They offer advice and guidance to businesses and individuals, and have already been listed in The Legal 500 and Chambers UK guides to the best law firms for 2022. “Given that a large majority of legal services are often of a sensitive or personal nature, it’s important for clients to feel that Lindsays is approachable and accessible. 11% of the people who opened the launch email for our latest online publication used the Recite Me assistive toolbar to view it. This reinforces the importance of making it as easy as possible for everyone to access information that they want.” FLiP FLiP is a London-based law firm specialising in family law. They promise exceptional legal expertise, integrity, and specialist emotional and practical support. FLiP was named as a leader for client service by Legal Business in 2020 and was ranked as one of the best law firms by The Times in 2019, 2020, and 2021. “The Recite Me toolbar reinforces both our commitment to diversity and inclusion in all its forms, and our commitment to ensuring that we deliver the very best service to our clients.” How Does Recite Me Help? Once the Recite Me assistive toolbar is installed on a website, access barriers can be broken down. By making single or multiple adjustments to create a uniquely customised experience, users can: Personalise font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read. Download content as an audio file as an alternative to reading. Access text to speak functions in 35 different languages. Have text read aloud at varying speeds. Utilise a screen mask and ruler for better focus. Convert text into over 100 different on-screen languages. Make use of the toolbar’s built-in dictionary and thesaurus. Switch to “text-only” mode to strip away graphics and page clutter. Recite Me Data Recite me is now installed on over 3,500 websites, and over the last 12 months, our data shows that: The Recite Me assistive toolbar was launched over 3 million times Over 16.5 million web pages were viewed using the toolbar Over 4.1 million individual styling changes were made 12.3 million pieces of content were translated into different languages 31 million pieces of content were read aloud 4 Steps to an Inclusive Online World If you’re an insurance broker or law firm looking to make your website more inclusive, these are the recommended steps to follow: Test your website against Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These are internationally recognised and are required by law for certain sectors and public-facing entities. Rectify any site errors that are not level A or AA compliant. Update your website build to meet best practices for an inclusive experience. Invest in assistive technology to provide a truly customisable and inclusive online journey. Recite Me is quick and easy to implement on your website and can usually be installed in under an hour. If you’d like to know more or join the hundreds of companies that have already adopted our inclusive, please contact our team or request a demonstration.

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Supporting Disabled Shoppers Online

02 Nov 2021 | 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 2021 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. In the UK alone, the #PurplePound – the spending power of disabled people and their families – is worth a staggering £274 billion and is estimated to be rising by 14% per year, yet less than 10% of organisations have a targeted plan to access the disability market. “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 surge in internet use during the pandemic. But even before the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers were already seeing a significant shift towards online shopping year on year: 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 by 2030. 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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