The internet should be accessible to everyone. But it isn’t. For people with dyslexia, visual impairment and learning difficulties it can be confusing, duanting, and inaccessible. With the school term in full swing it’s worth considering what the internet, and online interactive whiteboard based lessons, are like for children with dyslexia and visual impairment.
Ross Linnett, founder of Recite – an accessibility software startup – recently profiled in The Journal, was one of those children. It is estimated that dyslexia affects 375,000 students, who are amongst six million people severely affected by dyslexia in the UK. Instead of the internet being a comfortable fast moving stream of information, it is often confusing, daunting, and intimidating.
As Ross said in a Journal article this February, the ‘government best practice on web accessibility is based on the international W3C guidelines. These are focused on the need to maintain the internet as a forum open to all, with no barriers to communication and interaction.’ In the UK approximately 10% 15-20% of the population suffer from some kind of visual or learning impairment which makes the internet less accessible to them.
Recite is far from the only one fighting to make the internet more accessible. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) served legal proceedings against BMI Baby for their failing to make their website accessible to blind customers. Deals and offers change frequently online, which is the case for any large travel website. Booking holidays and flights is expensive enough without needing to call an 0845 number. They later agreed with work with the RNIB to make the website more accessible, prior to them closing when British Airways unfortunately failed to find a buyer.
In March, at SXSW in Austin, Texas, we came third out of 87 in the HatchPitch competition. Another month, another continent, another competition. This time it was the European Tech All Stars award, where we placed in the top 12 out of 257 entrants from across the EU. Only recently, at the Dublin Web Summit, we got to the semi-finals against 1000 startups from 36 countries, presenting in front of some of the most well respected figures in the tech sector. We are happy with our progress, but there is so much more we can do. Our aim is to keep pushing forward, into new markets, to get our platform on as many websites as possible, because the internet should be open to everyone. But it isn’t. We will do everything we can to change this.