With Covid-19 lockdown restrictions lifting, it feels to some degree as if we are finally able to claim a little of our regular routines back. However, due to the impacts on the economy, many households are facing financial troubles. Lots of people have lost their jobs, others have taken pay cuts, and some of the worst affected may have lost their businesses altogether.
A significant percentage of the population will be in need of financial support, and those in vulnerable circumstances will be affected the most. With lines of communications blocked or delayed, it is critical that websites are accessible. Recite Me is here to help all public and private sector businesses and organisations to communicate information more effectively by making websites accessible and inclusive of all users.
Who are the most Vulnerable Online?
We typically think of ‘the vulnerable’ as those with physical or emotional deficits – essentially the aged, the sick, and the immobile. In reality, though, anyone in need of special care falls under the definition of being vulnerable, and in the online world, this means those lacking the tools they need to adequately understand or communicate, and/or those without access to the information they need at all. This includes members of our society who:
- Have decreased vision – it is estimated that at least 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment.
- Struggle with literacy – around 1% of the population in developed nations like the UK and USA have issues with basic reading and writing. This figure is significantly higher in less developed nations.
- Are Autistic – around one in every hundred people is on the autistic spectrum.
- Speak/read English as a second language – up to 1 in every 5 households speaks a language other than English at home.
- Suffer from attention disorders – it is estimated that up to 5% of the population suffers from attention disorders like ADHD.
- Have learning difficulties – dyslexia alone affects as much as 16% of the population.
- Are affected by physical disabilities – millions of individuals have physical disabilities that make the use of standard keyboards and computers difficult.
The Need for Equal Access to Financial Support
Most of us take it for granted that we have access to the information we need online, but for those who battle with one or more of the conditions listed above, life just isn’t that simple. All of us have struggled with the realities of Covid-19 in some way or another, so imagine how scary and frustrating it must be to desperately need information about financial support, but not be able to access it – or act on it once you have it.
It is under these circumstances that vulnerability levels increase and financial situations can worsen, as any inequality in access to information leads to an inequality of access to services, which can have significant financial impacts on the individuals concerned. This is especially true of those whose job, salary or business is under threat due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Where to Look for Help
There are already some great companies out there doing a fantastic job in supporting those in tough financial situations:
Auriga Services – Auriga Services specialises in supporting people to come out of debt. To date, they have helped 1.9 million people to reduce their financial hardship.
The British Gas Energy Trust – This grant-giving charitable trust focusses on helping those who struggle to pay gas and electricity bills get back on their feet and remain debt-free.
Both Auriga Services and The British Gas Energy Trust have already installed Recite Me web accessibility software on their websites to help people in vulnerable circumstances gain access to information about financial support.
“British Gas Energy Trust helps people in financial need, and accessibility is essential. With the support of Recite Me, we now provide barrier-free access to our online application forms, enabling people with a range of accessibility issues including visual impairments, dyslexia, colour blindness, other forms of neurodiversity, and those who need to use alternative languages, to apply “
Jessica Taplin, CEO of British Gas Energy Trust
The Recite Me accessibility toolbar is particularly useful for those who find it challenging simply to navigate their online accounts. Our assistive technology allows users to explore and understand their online accounts without needing the additional support of live chat functions or having to spend lengthy waiting times in telephone queues to speak with customer service representatives.
Providing Accessible information for All
Are you a business or organization looking to make your information and services more accessible online? If yes, then you’re in the right place! The Recite Me assistive toolbar allows those with sight loss, cognitive impairments, learning difficulties, attention disorders, and literacy issues in general, to access your website in a way best suited to their individual requirements. It also incorporates different linguistic needs. 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.
For a limited period, Recite Me is offering a free accessible and inclusive landing page for any business, allowing organisations to share COVID-19 related messages and information with staff and customers. This is a great first step to take, and in terms of access to details about financial support specifically, could be a real lifeline and make a considerable difference to those struggling with financial worry coupled by online accessibility issues.
Of course, having just one webpage accessible to everyone is not a long term solution, but it’s a good way to start while you take a tour of our toolbar and chat with our team about installing our accessibility software on the entirety of your site.