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.