Emergency Services and Web Accessibility
The Police, Fire Brigade, Ambulance Service, and Search & Rescue are lifelines to the general public and the first port of call in an emergency.
In the UK in 2020:
- Over 5.8 million crimes were reported
- Over 153,000 fires were attended
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, ambulance call-outs reached nearly 8000 a day
- There were 2,380 civilian search and rescue helicopter missions
Most of us take access to emergency services for granted, but it’s not that simple for those who struggle with traditional methods of communication or face online barriers.
It is vital these essential services offer reliable and practical solutions that enable equal access for those with disabilities. Otherwise, vulnerable people could end up in dangerous situations during an emergency. Plus, valuable time and resources can be saved when more accurate and accessible information is available to everyone. This allows the brave men and women working in our emergency services sector to continue their essential work of solving crimes and saving lives.
Who We Work With
We are proud to work with numerous organisations in the emergency services sector already. We are delighted that so many local and national entities are committed to providing inclusive online journeys for the public they serve. Our current client list includes:
Accessibility Versus Inclusion
In recent times, it has become more important than ever that online information can be understood by everyone. As most emergency service organisations sit within the public sector, there are already stipulations regarding minimum accessibility requirements. These include:
Compliance with The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
Legal requirements under The Equality Act
However, accessibility and inclusion are not the same things. Accessibility compliance alone does not enable users to create a fully inclusive experience. What makes a website truly inclusive is giving people as many choices as possible to customise the content and consume the information in a personalised and tailored way. It is in this area of advocating accessibility while also promoting inclusion at a much higher level, in which Recite Me sits.
How Recite Me Helps People
At least 20% of the population have a physical, visual, auditory, cognitive, or neurological disability. In the UK, that’s over 13 million people. These individuals may face barriers accessing information online because they are unable to:
Read the text due to font, text size, or text spacing, or because of poor colour contrasts between background and foreground.
Understand the web copy as is not in the user’s first language.
Use a mouse or touchpad.
Focus on the relevant section of text.
Remove distractions presented by graphics and image carousels.
Once the Recite Me assistive toolbar is installed on a website, these access barriers can be broken down. By making single or multiple adjustments to create a genuinely inclusive online 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.
Our toolbar has been integral in providing equal access to emergency services information for people with disabilities. Here’s what some of our clients had to say about the results.
Police Service Feedback: Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner
“It is hugely important for us as an organisation to be accessible to the public we serve. Our website holds a lot of information which everyone should be able to access easily. Thanks to the Recite Me Toolbar, we have made vast strides in making our website more accessible for all, and it will continue to be a focus for us when improving our online presence. "
Clare Kelly, Chief Executive, Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner
Ambulance Service Feedback: Scottish Ambulance Service
“The Scottish Ambulance Service is on the front line of the NHS. We dispatch immediate medical assistance or clinical advice to over 5 million people across Scotland. We also help patients who need support to reach their healthcare appointments and regularly transfer some of Scotland’s most seriously ill patients. Therefore, we must communicate and promote all our services to everyone in Scotland, including those who have additional communication needs or do not speak English. The Recite functionality on our website gives these users the ability to find out about our services and how they can access them.”
Mark Bagon, Scottish Ambulance Service spokesperson
Fire & Rescue Service Feedback: North Wales Fire & Rescue
“We serve a rich diversity of communities. Reducing risk and saving lives are central to our mission – and accessibility is vital to our success. Providing Recite Me across our website means we offer language choice in English and Welsh to residents and support public members in any language – whilst also being accessible to people with disabilities, learning difficulties, and visual impairments. Being able to remove barriers to access timely information and advice online on how to stay safe really could mean the difference between life and death.”
North Wales Fire & Rescue spokesperson
Emergency Services Sector Data
Over the last 12 months, Recite Me made thousands of emergency services related website pages accessible. Our data shows that:
The Recite Me assistive toolbar was launched 6,588 times
Over 22,900 emergency services web pages were viewed using the toolbar
On average, Recite Me users viewed 3.5 pages of an accessible website per visit, well above the internet average of just 2.5 pages per visit.
Over 33,000 individual styling changes were made by users accessing healthcare sites.
Interested in More Information?
Recite Me is quick and easy to implement on your website and can usually be installed in under an hour. Our software is already active on over 3500 websites, and every year we help millions of people to enjoy inclusive journeys online.
You can find details of all the emergency services organisations that use Recite Me software on our sector pages and read more about who needs assistive technology and what people say about the Recite Me Assistive Toolbar in our previous news articles. Alternatively, you can contact our team for further information and advice or book a live demonstration of our toolbar.Article Sources: The Independent, Office of National Statistics, The Home Office, Gov.UK, WHO.