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

Dyslexia and Assistive Technology from a Students Viewpoint

19 Apr 2021 | news

Dyslexia is a condition that impacts at least 10-15% of the population. If you, your family or close friends haven’t been touched by someone with dyslexia it may be easy to underestimate how widespread it is. Dyslexia impacts people in different ways. So, symptoms might not look the same from one person to another. Primarily dyslexia affects skills involved in the accurate understanding, reading, spelling and writing of words. We caught up with Sophie, a university student, to find out about her experience with dyslexia and how assistive technology is helping her during her studies. What university do you go to, and what do you study? My name is Sophie, and I am currently in my first year of Primary Teaching at the University of Roehampton. I love my course; it is incredibly rewarding, and I have learned so much already. When were you diagnosed with dyslexia? I was diagnosed with dyslexia not long after starting university. At first, I had mixed feelings about being diagnosed considerably later than others. However, as I began to recognise my strengths and learn more about the support I could receive, I accepted my unique abilities and focused on creating a toolkit to allow me to achieve my goals. What’s it like to have dyslexia? I often describe dyslexia as my creative lens to the world. My ‘out of the box’ thinking is a strength. On the days where my concentration is poor, and I cannot seem to get the words out, I have learned to look at this with a flexible mindset and find a way of working with what I can do rather than with what I can’t. How has dyslexia affected you in your academic studies? With my studies in mind, I find that it takes me considerably longer to complete reading and writing tasks. I often get apprehensive when I see a lot of text on a page and have developed a range of problem-solving skills that help me tackle the challenges I face. How did you find out about assistive technology? To start with I did not know much about assistive technology. I came across some information on the internet when I was looking for support after struggling with managing my academic workload and I was rapidly losing belief in myself. Talking to someone who completely understood dyslexia opened doors of opportunities which helped my mindset and gave me the courage to push forward. How does assistive technology help your studies? Assistive technology has opened a positive pathway for me to work through the challenges I have by acknowledging my strengths and learning to accept the support as a stepping stone to success. What features of assistive technology help you the most? There are many benefits to assistive technology, and I am so grateful to have it. The toolbar is user-friendly and has been an asset to my academic progress. I can use the screen overlay to adjust the page to a colour that helps me to read with ease and enables me to study for longer. The screen mask allows me to follow the reading with a tinted screen around the text I am focusing on which prevents me from losing track of what I am reading. The option to have the text read to me has made reading expectations manageable and I complete them on time and at my pace. The text extractor tool is great for consolidating the key points from reading and I can convert it to an audio file if I want to listen again. Is there anything else you would like to add? Having Dyslexia is not something that should hold anyone back. If you find yourself feeling stuck in the daily struggle, I encourage you to look into assistive technology – you will not regret it! Find Out More If you would like to learn more about supporting your students with dyslexia-friendly assistive software, please feel free to contact our team for more information or book a demonstration of our toolbar.

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Dunelm Careers Close the Disability Employment Gap

19 Apr 2021 | news

Dunelm Careers provides a digitally inclusive employment journey with the support of accessibility and language tools online. Dunelm is the UK’s number one homeware retailer, that provides over 50,000 products to over 5 million visitors online and in-store a week. To fulfil Dunelm’s commitment to value each customer and employee, building helpful and committed relationships, Dunelm Careers has implemented Recite Me assistive technology online to provide equal opportunity to Dunelm job vacancies. 14.1 million people in the UK have a disability that prevents ease of access to our digital world. With the introduction of assistive technology on the Dunelm Careers website those who are visually impaired, neurodiverse, or who speak English as a second language can apply and search for job opportunities barrier-free. Paul Jenkins, at Dunelm Careers, commented, “Consideration to an inclusive recruitment process was delivered through removing barriers to ensure opportunities are fully accessible to all. “Recite Me was engaged to provide a complete web-accessible site that could be customised for users’ needs to engage and interact with the Dunelm brand and for Dunelm to reach a wider audience.” The accessibility and language toolbar on the Dunelm Careers website provides online visitors with a customisable experience. Features include screen reading functionality, multiple reading aids, an on-demand live translation feature that boasts over 100 languages and 35 texts to speech and styling options. Over the past 12 months, Dunelm has supported 2,449 unique users online to explore and apply for jobs barrier-free. Toolbar data shows that: On average users viewed 4.4 pages on the Dunelm careers website, the average internet journey depth s 2.8 pages The most popular feature is the screen reader, 529 translations have been made to Polish, Chinese, Spanish and Panjabi. Reading aids were used 643 times, and 1,783 styling changes were made with 25 people changing the font colour to yellow and 38 people changing the background to black. Diversity and inclusion strategies are at the forefront of many organisations in 2021, to ensure equal opportunities, a diverse talent pool, and closure of the disability employment gap. To access Recite Me unique and supportive features on Dunelm Careers website click ‘Accessibility Tools’ at the top of their website. Recite Me is quick and easy to implement on your website. Join the thousands of recruitment businesses that have created a diverse and inclusive talent pool. For more information go to Recite Me or contact a member of our team.

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Gaining a Competitive Edge in E-Commerce with Website Accessibility

19 Apr 2021 | news

In 2020, global online shopping sales reached over $4.28trillion, demonstrating a significant rise from previous years. In line with this, the volume of e-commerce outlets also rose sharply. On Shopify alone, the number of new stores increased by 62% in just one 6-week period during March and April in 2020. Normally consumers have a choice of whether to shop online with a retailer or visit a physical store. But in the last year or so, that element of choice has been largely removed. So what does this mean for retailers? How do they succeed in the competitive online market? How do they stand out among new competitors? And how do high street sellers safeguard their market share in the transition to making more online sales? Web accessibility can be a big factor in helping e-commerce companies gain a competitive edge. Evolving E-Commerce Behaviors The restriction of access to retail shops during the COVID-19 pandemic pushed more shoppers online. E-commerce spending jumped from 15.8% in 2019 to 21.3% in 2020, and is expected to rise to over 27% in 2021. But even before COVID, retailers were already seeing a significant shift from in-store to online spending. This can be contributed to a number of factors including: The increase in smartphone mobile shopping Social media influences like Facebook and Instagram shopping New technology The changing buyer preferences of Millennials to Gen Z’s. These changing market trends have been a driving factor behind the rapid growth of the e-commerce industry in recent years. But there’s a problem…. Just because something is digital, doesn’t mean that it’s accessible. So to be successful, e-commerce operators need to ensure that their websites are optimised for user experience. This means taking account of all users, including those with disabilities and accessibility barriers. “Too many website projects suffer from strategies that don’t put accessibility at the core and therefore fail to meet some of the most basic of accessibility guidelines and requirements.” Dean Appleton-Claydon, Web Developer & Entrepreneur The Strength of the Purple Pound The Purple Pound is the term used to describe the spending power of those with disabilities. There is a wide range of internet users who face access barriers to online shopping sites. This includes those who struggle with: Vision problems Physical disabilities Learning difficulties Cognitive or neurological disorders Language and literacy issues Approximately 20% of people in the UK and 25% of people in the USA sit in the disability market. This equates to spending power of £24.8 billion in the UK alone, while in the USA the total disposable income of the disabled market sits at $490 billion. The big takeaway here is that if your website is not accessible, you are excluding a vast number of potential customers and missing out on significant revenue opportunities. The Perils of the Click Away Pound Click-Away Pound is a research survey that analyses the online shopping habits and experiences of people with disabilities. Their latest survey demonstrated that: 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. These statistics show how important it is for e-commerce sites to provide digital accessibility for all on their websites and apps. Web Accessibility is the Smart Thing to Do It’s not all about revenue though. From improving brand reputation to avoiding legal complications, the benefits of making your e-commerce site accessible are widely documented: Forbes magazine reports that 52% of all adult consumers consider a company’s values when making a purchase online. Many customers, and Millennials to Gen Z’s in particular, favour brands that care about helping others. Becoming inclusive sets you apart from your competition. Demonstrating inclusive policies helps you become an employer of choice. It is expected by law that businesses do not treat those with disabilities less favourably. Web Accessibility is the Right Thing to Do All of these business bolstering reasons aside, ensuring your products and services are available to everyone is simply the right thing to do. “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, Computer Programmer and Web Usability Expert How to Make E-Commerce Stores Inclusive Most businesses avoid web accessibility and inclusion factors, dismissing them as too complicated or too costly. But that needn’t be the case. Here are our top three strategies for making your e-commerce store more inclusive. 1. Adapt Your Website Build Making websites more accessible is not rocket science these days. Most reliable developers are well aware of accessibility factors, as they are becoming more and more prevalent in Google ranking algorithms. The first steps are to ensure that your website: Uses a content management system that supports accessibility Uses headings correctly to structure your content Includes alt text for all images Gives descriptive names to your links Is mindful of colour use and colour contrasts Ensures forms are designed for accessibility Is keyboard friendly 2. Comply with Accessibility Legislation & Guidelines The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide a breakdown of accessibility factors and classify compliance into various levels. For e-commerce stores to meet minimum requirements for accessibility, it is recommended that websites should be aiming for WCAG 2.1 at an AA level. There are also legal considerations. The laws that apply to your business will depend on where your company is based, but examples include: The Equality Act of 2010 (UK) The European Accessibility Act (Europe) The Americans with Disabilities Act (USA) 3. Use Assistive Technology Software solutions like the Recite Me assistive toolbar promote inclusivity by allowing those with sight loss, cognitive impairments, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, and varying linguistic needs to access your website in the way that is best suited to them. Toolbar functions include: Fully customisable text size, font, and spacing. The ability to change text colour and background colour contrasts. A screen mask to provide colour tinting and block visual clutter. Additional reading aids such as an on-screen ruler and text-only mode. Text-to-speech functions in 35 languages. A real-time translation feature catering to over 100 languages. We already work with several businesses in the e-commerce sector, including Promo Direct, Curve Theatre, Awin, Rugby League World Cup ticket store, and Watford FC’s Hornets Shop. "We believe that the internet should be available and accessible to everyone. At Promo Direct are committed to delivering a website that is accessible to a wide range of audiences, regardless of their ability and circumstance." Dave Sarro, CEO of Promo Direct A Case Study: Watford FC Hornets Shop Having the Recite Me toolbar available to fans shopping for Watford FC merchandise made a huge difference. Over a 12 month period: 661 unique users clicked to open our toolbar 2,382 pages were viewed on the Hornet Shop website using Recite Me On average users viewed 3.6 pages per session, whereas the average website journey is only 2.8 pages. "The Recite accessibility tool has transformed the way we can help customers to buy from us and also get all of the club's updates and information we provide. Recite has been invaluable in helping us achieve this." Mat Robinson, Head of Retail, Watford FC Learn More About Becoming Inclusive Want to learn more about our web accessibility tools and boost the success of your e-commerce business? Contact our team or book a live demonstration today, and join the thousands of other organisations who are already enjoying the benefits of a more accessible website.

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The Importance of Providing Accessible Online Bookings with Ross Dempsey

14 Apr 2021 | news

As plans are put in place to reopen the country from lockdown, many of us have turned to the digital world to search and book tickets for upcoming events. This is not as simple for those with disabilities and neurodiverse conditions who often face online barriers that prevent access to events information and bookings. We caught up with Ross Dempsey, Digital Marketing Manager at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), to dive into how online assistive technology is playing a big part in supporting a diverse range of people to explore events and pre-book tickets online. The SEC Centre is situated in the heart of Glasgow, Scotland’s cultural and commercial capital, and is one of the UK’s largest integrated spaces, purpose-built for exhibitions, conferences, and live entertainment. The SEC is committed to making an entire experience for customers enjoyable and accessible with the introduction of Recite Me assistive technology on their website, in which website users can customise their online experience to suit their own needs. Ross Dempsey tells us more… How has Recite Me played a part in your digital plans ahead of reopening? SEC currently holds the ‘Attitude is Everything’ Gold Award and we are committed to continually improving venues to maintain this gold accessibility level. The Scottish Event Campus’s mission is to make our venues not only as accessible as possible physically but online too. Ahead of reopening, Recite Me allows us to offer online accessibility tools to our customers to enable an easy online booking experience for those who face online barriers. How do you think Recite Me will benefit your company ahead of reopening? The Recite Me accessibility toolbar will support all SEC website visitors to explore events and find out information about the venues before visiting. Assistive technology will support people with a wide range of disabilities, learning difficulties, or people who speak English as a second language. The assistive toolbar allows everyone to customise the SEC and SSE Hydro websites in a way that works best for them to understand and read website content easily. If more events companies begin to use Recite Me, how do you think this will impact the events sector as a whole? The implementation of accessibility tools on events websites is an opportunity to provide an inclusive and diverse experience for all customers. We are providing accessibility tools to visitors from around the world to find the information they need. Why is it important to you and your company to provide an inclusive experience online? We are committed to making a visit to the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) an enjoyable experience for everyone and that includes using our websites. We recently launched the ability for users to purchase accessible tickets to our events online and once we discovered Recite Me, we felt it was a great addition to improve the functionality of our websites. We were very impressed with the Recite Me software and as well as accessibility tools, the language switcher allows our conference visitors from around the world to find the information they need. For more information on how you can provide an inclusive online experience, go to the Recite Me website or contact a member of our team.

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World Health Day: Building a Fairer, Healthier World with Digital Accessibility

07 Apr 2021 | news

Today marks the annual celebration of World Health Day. This year we’re reflecting on the 2021 theme of building a fairer and healthier world for everyone, as part of the World Health Organisations year-long campaign to eliminate health inequities. 2020 was a year we will never forget. COVID-19 highlighted the inequalities between us and revealed that some people can live healthier lives with better access to health services than others, entirely due to the conditions in which they are born, concerning age, gender, disability, and race. The COVID-19 pandemic has undercut recent health gains and amplified health inequalities. This is immoral and avoidable, provided we make efforts to ensure people can access quality health services when and where they need them. Assistive technology enables people to access vital health resources, information, and advice regardless of their race, religion, gender, disability, or social condition, enabling people to live independent and healthy lives. Healthcare is a Right Not a Privilege One billion people around the world live with some form of disability, and often encounter obstacles online when searching for healthcare services and COVID-19 guidance. The World Health Organisation estimates that only 10% of people have access to the assistive technology they need. “The Enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.” World Health Organization Breaking Down Health Inequities with Recite Me Digital Accessibility Tools Recite Me works with health organisations around the world to provide accessible technology on websites. Our accessibility toolbar enables everyone worldwide to access vital health resources and information online. Our digitally inclusive toolbar offers features such as translation, screen reader, and styling options. This includes alterations to the size, font, and colour. These features support a diverse range of individuals who are most vulnerable to access barriers: Decreased vision Literacy Learning difficulties Physical disabilities Attention disorders Language/linguistic problems Individuals with these issues often face barriers when using websites to access healthcare information, as they may not be able to read onscreen information, use a mouse or focus on content without distractions. Welcoming people with varied disabilities and access needs are important to eliminating health inequities worldwide. Healthcare Diversity & Inclusion This year, health organisations and charities have joined the Recite Me mission of ‘Accessibility for All’ by providing online assistive technology to website visitors. This is important to us especially during a global pandemic where many people may feel isolated and struggle to gain access to information and services. We are proud to work with a range of healthcare organisations and charities to support their journey to becoming digitally inclusive, building a fairer and healthier world. Our Clients: “We know the information on our website needs to be available in different formats and languages to reach our diverse audiences, so we worked hard to find a solution that will make information we publish online more accessible.” Rebecca Fogarty, Engagement and Collaboration Manager at NHS Public Health Wales “We have found Recite Me to be an important feature added to our websites. It has made it easier for people with different accessibility and translation needs to tell us about their health and care experiences online using our Feedback Centre, which means that we can continue to share the issues that matter to the diverse population of Cheshire.” George Gibson, Communications and Research Officer, Healthwatch Cheshire CIC Toolbar data Over the past 12 months Recite Me has seen over 54,000 people use assistive technology to view 194,974 pages barrier-free, across NHS and health client websites. When visiting our client websites visitors are viewing on average 3.58 pages per session. This is higher than the internet average of 2.8 pages, showing a better user experience when using the support available to aid their journey online. As part of the options and tools available with the Recite Me toolbar translation plays a vital role to support people who speak English as a second language. Over 72,000 translate were made in the past 12 months on NHS websites with the most popular languages being Afrikaans, Bengali, Bulgarian, Italian and Tagalog. “We want to provide an inclusive online experience, where everyone can customise content to suit their needs. Organisations like NHS Wales who have a diverse range of website users can now offer healthcare information more effectively to all users, this is particularly crucial in current circumstances for COVID-19 advice and services.” Ross Linnett, Recite Me Founder and CEO A Digitally Accessible Healthcare Service Recite Me is a cloud-based assistive toolbar solution that bridges the gap between accessibility and usability, creating a more inclusive online experience. This web accessibility and language support help over 2 million website visitors every year to customise a site in a way that works best for them. There is no better time than on World Health Day for global health organisations to provide online accessibility tools, to ensure a fairer and healthier world with barrier-free healthcare information and services. We also want to take today to thank the amazing health workers worldwide, for their incredible work over this past year. If you would like to join the thousands of organisations that now provide accessibility tools on their sites to support a diverse range of individuals, please contact our team or book a demo. We would love to see your support on our social pages for World Health Day, join us in supporting the movement.

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Discussing learning and wellbeing for neurodiverse children and young people with Sue Murphy

06 Apr 2021 | news

Following a roundtable discussion on diversity and inclusion and the effects COVID-19 has had on people with disabilities and neurodiverse conditions, we caught back up with Susan Murphy, CEO of Sue Sanford Specialist Coach, to dive a little deeper into Sue’s personal experiences and the effects she is seeing first-hand in the educational sector. My name is Sue Murphy. I am an experienced coach, often working with clients who have one or more neurodiverse conditions and I’m dyspraxic myself. Finding this out at 62 was a revelation and made a huge difference to the way I think and work. I hope it’s made me a better coach. I’m also a proud grandma to 4 wonderful grandchildren, all in primary school. They and their parents have had to cope with the disruption of their school education for a year. They all did really well, yet It hasn’t been easy for any of them. Three things in the last couple of weeks have made me think particularly about how lockdown has affected learning and wellbeing for neurodiverse children and young people; Firstly, a recent online meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Dyspraxia, which heard from Dr Sally Payne and Sophie Kayani about how dyspraxic learners in school have been affected by home learning through multiple lockdowns, based on the findings of a survey of their parents and carers. I came out of this discussion with a sense I commonly get that. What was clear was that no one size or set of measures fits any group and certainly not dyspraxic youngsters. Some students expected to do well in end-of-term exams learning in school were struggling with using unfamiliar technology and lack of structure. Assessing them against their online assignments submitted during lockdown will not give an accurate picture of how well that child would have done. For other students, being away from the distraction of the classroom and being able to focus on their own time working online-enabled them to thrive. Some of these students will struggle to go back to school and will lose the precious online resources and teaching they’ve had for a short while because schools can’t provide that level of support for an individual child. The phrase “maverick learners" is used to describe students who often don’t do particularly well during term time and continuous assessment yet achieve better than expected results in exams. This is a familiar picture to me and other neurodiverse adults who need the pressure of a meaningful black and white deadline with real consequences to work at our best. In the same week, I joined the campaign to end pen licences in primary schools. A primary school student “earns” a pen licence when their teachers decide their handwriting with a pencil is at a good enough level of neatness and accuracy. The child is now allowed to use a pen because they have mastered the cursive script. How many adults reading this handwrite regularly? If you do how often have you used cursive script since leaving school? Many children with neurodiverse conditions such as dyspraxia, dyslexia or other conditions (including hypermobility) are affected with the skills needed to shape letters and use handwriting to communicate are needlessly demotivated and humiliated by this practice. Yet an adult (or post 16 students) with a similar impairment would not be expected to write by hand. They would use a keyboard and maybe make use of speech to text software (which is now provided as a matter of routine in Microsoft software amongst other Then, in the same week, I received the summary of 2020 accessibility trends in education from Recite Me showing a huge spike in toolbar usage as lockdown kicked in and people switched to online earning. Toolbar launches enabled over 3.7 million educational web pages to be viewed. This flexibility and accessibility will have been a huge help to the students able to access it at a time when the structure of their further and higher education was blown apart by COVID. What a contrast with the experiences of children in the primary sector. My question now is: When are we going to stop expecting children with diverse needs and learning styles to use outdated technology, ie a pen, and study in environments designed for the convenience of mass teaching which stress and distract them? in order to learn, reflect and be able to communicate their learning when we wouldn’t do that to an adult. When are we going to change things systemically in education so that they can learn and express their ideas in ways that are natural to them, using the fabulous technology now available and so commonly used by their older peers? NB. I identify myself as Dyspraxic, rather someone “with dyspraxia”, so this is the language I have used here to describe myself and others. I know others will prefer to refer to themselves /their child as a person “with dyspraxia”, not dyspraxic and their preferences should be observed.

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United Utilities provides an inclusive experience online for over 100,000 people

05 Apr 2021 | news

2020 was a year we will never forget where the physical world came to something of a standstill and we were all forced to perform everyday tasks online. Organisations across the globe made concerted efforts to maximise their online presence to ensure continued support and service to clients. Water company United Utilities did just this with the help of Recite Me accessibility and language options on its website. By making its digital world accessible and barrier-free to all website visitors and customers, people were able to self-serve accounts and explore products and services without having to call United Utilities for one-to-one support over the phone or live chat. United Utilities is responsible for delivering 1.8 billion litres of water a day to more than 3 million homes and businesses in the North West of England and is dedicated to providing its essential service at a high standard to the population. Studies show that 1 in 5 people have impairments that make accessing online information challenging. Excluding 20% of the population is not something that United Utilities was not prepared to accept. In 2020 the Recite Me toolbar helped over 100,000 people to read and understand website content barrier-free. Our unique assistive toolbar helps everyone to customise their online experience to suit their own individual needs. The Data shows that 552,059 pieces of content were read aloud using the text-to-speech engine and 20,707 pages were translated into a different language, including Polish, Portuguese and Arabic. Other support tools include styling and reading assistance. 12,326 styling changes were made in total, including alterations to font type, size, and colour, and overall colour contrast between background and foreground. With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to push people online, website accessibility factors are at the forefront of business development in 2021. We are incredibly proud to be part of a business’s development in the utilities sector. Louise Beardmore, Customer Services and People Director at United Utilities, commented “We chose to install the Recite Me assistive toolbar to make our website accessible and truly inclusive to all. The internet can be an incredibly intimidating place and anyone who finds it difficult to understand or communicate is at a significant disadvantage.” The Recite Me toolbar includes fully customisable styling features, reading aids, and translation tools, meaning web pages can be consumed in a way that is personalised and tailor-made to each unique website visitor. This includes the ability to change font size, type, and colour, adjust overall colour contrasts, strip away distracting graphics, download content as an audio file, convert content into over 100 different on-screen languages, or have the page read aloud in a choice of 35 different languages.

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Beyond Housing Believes in Accessibility for All

02 Apr 2021 | news

Beyond Housing has taken the necessary steps to achieve its mission of accessibility for all, with online assistive technology. Beyond Housing provides 15,000 homes and a wide range of services to over 30,000 customers living in the Tees Valley and North Yorkshire. As part of their mission to provide accessibility for all, Beyond Housing wanted to be transparent and inclusive, ensuring all web users could access essential housing information and services barrier-free. In North Yorkshire, it is estimated that 11,338 people aged 18 to 85 have a learning disability, and often require support online when using digital technology and software. With the implementation of Recite Me on Beyond Housing’s website, residents who are visually impaired, neurodiverse, or those who speak English as a second language can access support. Beyond Housing’s diverse customer base has customised their Recite Me toolbar by translating content into different languages, reading aloud, and styling assistance. This includes adjustments to colour, font, and size. Beyond Housing customer, Anda, who is from Latvia and a member of an Eastern European community support group, uses the Recite Me toolbar to translate online content. She said, “I have had a very good experience working with Beyond Housing since they upgraded their home page with new tools as part of their programme, ‘Believing in Accessibility for all’. “Now existing and new customers can access information with various different adjustments, including translation in many languages, some of them even in audio version. Using the orange button at the right side of the screen labelled ‘access and language tools’, one can change colours, languages, play audio, choose the text and other options according to their needs.” Beyond Housing website users can now access vital information barrier-free by clicking the orange “Access and Language Tools” button on their website, Beyond Housing. Recite Me assistive technology is quick and easy to implement on your organisation’s website. For more information, please go to Recite Me or contact a member of our team.

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The Children's Family Trust Provides Accessible Fostering Information to Everyone Online

30 Mar 2021 | news

The Children’s Family Trust (CFT) has enhanced its ability to support a diverse range of people accessing fostering information online, with Recite Me online accessibility options. The CFT is a registered fostering charity that aims to achieve stability and security for children. Many of the children that The CFT care for have not had the best start in life and are unable to live with their birth families, this often means that they have faced great adversity and require a stable and secure home. 8% of children in the UK are disabled and regularly encounter barriers online that prevent them from accessing crucial online information and services. By using Recite Me assistive technology those who are visually impaired, neurodiverse, or who speak English as a second language can gain access to important information hassle-free. The CFT recruit, assess and support foster carers to look after children and young people in care. The CFT also demonstrates a commitment to any child that has been, is currently, or will be in the care of the charity, by providing them with support even after they have moved on to independence and adulthood. With Recite Me assistive technology, The CFT web users can customise the content in a way in which works best for them. Jessica Harper, Marketing and Media Manager at CFT commented, “We are excited to be launching the Recite Me Toolbar on our website in the hope that it will make the experience for all of our users more comfortable.” “As an organisation, we support both foster carers and children from all walks of life and backgrounds, and it is important for us to ensure that our stakeholders are receiving information in a way that suits them best. We are hopeful that adding the Recite Me toolbar will make our website function in a more accessible and inclusive way for all and allow us to reach more people.” Recite Me features include translating content into different languages, read aloud, and styling assistance. This includes adjustments to colour, font type, and size. Web users can customise their experience on The CFT website here.

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Discussing Online Barriers with Autism Plus

29 Mar 2021 | news

To understand the challenges and obstacles people with autism are facing during the Covid 19 pandemic and online, Recite Me sit down with Katie Mitchell, Marketing Manager Autism Plus, to discuss how they are supporting as many people as they can. During the pandemic how has Autism Plus helped people with isolating and using the internet for everyday tasks? For many of the individuals we support at Autism Plus the pandemic increased fears and anxieties, routines were disrupted, and for some people the rules around social distancing were confusing. We quickly adapted our services wherever possible to deliver support sessions online, we have a full zoom timetable now that includes drama group, quizzes, local history, art and wildlife groups, book club, disco’s, and drinks and nibbles! For the people we support who were unable to see their family and friends in person we helped them to have regular contact via the internet. We also: Partnered with ‘Good Things Foundation’ to provide 10 tablets and dongles for people who were unable to access the internet Provided ‘Make it Click’ sessions to help people with basic digital skills such as online safety, and using the internet Offered webinars around supporting Neurodiverse individuals to return to the workplace or to support remote working to help raise awareness and ensure employees with autism were kept connected. What are the common barriers people with autism can face online? The internet is a fantastic resource for information, news and communicating with family, friends and colleagues. For an individual with autism, navigating through all of that information can be confusing and overwhelming. Many people with autism rely on structure and routine which can help ease anxieties, but online quite often websites lack structure which can make people feel lost and results in lots of clicks to sites and pages that aren’t relevant for them. There is so much news and information posted on the internet nowadays, and it can be difficult for some people with autism to understand the difference between real and fake news, and when you search for something it may bring up results from years ago, it isn’t always easy to see when an article was posted. Why is it important for Autism Plus to offer accessibility and language options online? As a charity offering care and support for people with autism, learning disabilities and neurodiverse conditions it is vital that the information we provide on our website is accessible and easy to navigate to as many people as possible, in ways that work for them. This is why we love Recite Me as it enables visitors to our site to customise and access content easily. Toolbar data shows Autism Plus website visitors use the text enlarge styling tool the most to customise their experience. Why would you think this is the most commonly used feature? The text enlarge feature is great because it means the visitor can completely customise the text size that works best for them, and used together with the speech function means that the information can easily be understood. We can see that distraction support tools such as Text-only mode, screen mask, and magnifying glass have been used on nearly 100 occasions. Are these online techniques commonly used by people with autism to read content online? These too are great functions as it means visitors with neurodiverse conditions who may prefer to focus on one area of the page can do this easily and avoid distraction from images and the remaining content in that area. Autism Plus aims to empower people to live independent lives, how do you think Recite Me helps with this goal? Recite Me helps us by offering a real inclusive experience when visiting our website, it helps our visitors to take control and process information in a way that suits them and their needs – it's what we’re all about, helping people to take control and make their own choices.

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TPP Recruitment Provide an Inclusive Online Candidate Journey

24 Mar 2021 | news

TPP Recruitment has committed to providing equal access to job opportunities with accessibility and language options to support a diverse range of individuals. TPP Recruitment is a specialist, highly respected, and well-established UK-wide consultancy, that provides dedicated support to organisations across a range of non-profit and public sector organisations. 1 in 5 people in the UK has some form of disabled and often encounter obstacles online when researching and applying for job vacancies. By providing Recite Me assistive technology TPP support those who may have a disability, learning difficulty, visually impairment or who speak English as a second language can gain access to job opportunities hassle-free. Tracy George, COO, TPP Recruitment commented, “We are simply delighted with this accessibility enhancement to our website! We want our jobs, recruitment services, and all our fabulous content to be accessible to everyone and feel it is important to give people a customised experience to meet their individual needs. “We hope this feature further demonstrates our commitment to attracting the widest and most diverse talent for the sector we serve and brings us a step closer to giving all job seekers an equal opportunity of securing and retaining fulfilling work.” The accessibility technology on the TPP Recruitment website is fully customisable with a range of features that provide a more accessible and inclusive experience when attracting and recruiting talent. These features include text-to-speech functionality, fully customisable styling features, reading aids, and a translation tool with over 100 languages. During 2020, Recite Me assistive toolbar usage across careers and recruitment websites increased by 168% to nearly 7500 users each month. Recite Me is quick and easy to implement on your website. For further information on assistive technology go to Recite Me.

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South Tyneside Homes Provides Residents Accessibility Support Online

24 Mar 2021 | news

South Tyneside Homes has enhanced its ability to deliver excellent services across the borough to its residents by providing an accessible experience online. 18,000 council homes across South Tyneside are managed and maintained by the housing company. To fulfill its commitment to residents, the organisation wanted to ensure a high quality of communications. By using Recite Me assistive technology, residents who are visually impaired, neurodiverse, or those who speak English as a second language can access essential housing information barrier-free. The assistive toolbar on the South Tyneside Homes website offers a wide range of customisable options, such as translating content into different languages, read aloud, and styling assistance. This includes adjustments to colour, font type, and size. Cllr Ed Malcolm, Chair of South Tyneside Homes’ Board, said: “It is more vital than ever that our website is as accessible and as inclusive as possible. The pandemic has highlighted just how important it is that people can access services and engage remotely, quickly and easily. “We know more and more of our residents are going online to use a range of services and Recite Me is one of the tools we are using to make our website user friendly for everyone.” Over the last 12 months, 500 people have used the Recite Me toolbar to read and understand essential housing information on the South Tyneside Homes website. Toolbar data shows that website visitors have viewed over 1,760 accessible pages. This gives South Tyneside Homes an insight into what pages people are looking at and what support they need to view them barrier-free. On average each unique user has accessed 3.4 pages per session, which is fantastic to see as the depth of journey is higher than the internet average of 2.8. The most used accessibility toolbar feature is the screen reader, this reads text aloud for the user. This is followed by the styling options where users have increased the text size by 110% and 130%. The most commonly translated languages have been Albanian, Arabic, and Spanish. South Tyneside Homes web users can customise their experience by clicking the “Accessibility Tools” button at the top of their website.

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How Does Web Accessibility Impact Marketing Outcomes?

10 Mar 2021 | news

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

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Thriving with Dyslexia & Accessible Technology

09 Mar 2021 | news

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

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Web Accessibility Solutions for the Not For Profit Sector

08 Mar 2021 | news

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

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