How to overcome digital exclusion

Why doesn’t one in five adults with disabilities in the UK (22%) use the internet?

It’s an alarming number. The same goes for asking why more than half (53%) of adults aged 75 years and over in the UK have not used the internet recently?

In today’s world, many of us do everything we can online, from shopping to booking holidays and paying bills.

So why can’t people with disabilities and older people enjoy the same benefits? It’s because of digital exclusion.

Too many inaccessible websites

Evidence from the public and private sectors shows that inaccessible websites are a major barrier that prevents people with disabilities (including older people, who are more likely to have acquired a disability) using the internet.

The Click-Away Pound Survey found more than six million people with disabilities in the UK had difficulty using online shops and services. 71% of those people simply left a site that they found hard to use; 4.2 million lost customers.

For 81% of this group, ease of use was more important than price. Overall, £11.75 billion was spent by consumers in 2016 at websites that were easier to use.

Whilst a web accessibility study found that only 60% of UK local authority websites’ home pages are accessible to people with disabilities.

The Web should work for everyone

Being able to access the internet is a legal right of people with disabilities, as covered in the Equality Act 2010.

And when websites, apps and digital content are correctly designed they are accessible for everyone, as noted by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web:

“The Web is fundamentally designed to work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, location, or ability…However, when web sites, applications, technologies, or tools are badly designed, they can create barriers that exclude people from using the Web.”

However, things are set to change in the public sector with the introduction of The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No.2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

Follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The first deadline of these regulations was September 23rd 2019 and the laws set new website and mobile app accessibility standards that public sector bodies must now follow.

In order to comply, new public sector websites and mobile apps (published on or after the regulations came into force in September 2018) must follow the principles of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 accessibility Level AA standards by 23 September 2019.

They are a set of guidelines to follow produced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to make a website or mobile app accessible to all users.

The guidelines should also be followed by private sector organisations to ensure their websites are accessible.

To follow the guidelines and make your website accessible you’ll need to take steps like using alt text tags for all images and video, plus using high contrast between the text and background.

Accessible websites open up new markets

You should also consider adding web accessibility software like Recite Me.

Recite Me’s assistive toolbar allows people with a wide range of disabilities and impairments, from dyslexia to sight loss and colour blindness, to easily access websites and web content.

Whilst it is the right thing to do, adding accessibility software will also improve the overall user experience of your website.

And it will open up your business to a wider audience by providing assistive tools for your visitors to engage and ultimately convert online.

100’s of organisations already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible and inclusive…call 0191 4328092 to find out more or book your free trial now.

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