Loud and proud about web accessibility

Guest Blog – By Laura Clark from Dig inclusion

Companies and organisations can’t wait to promote to us, their customers, and tell us what new and magical product or service they have. With the rise of social media organisations are having to develop a personality, so it feels as though they are our friend as they are selling to us. On the flip side though social media is a great way for people to publicly raise an issue and ask for a resolution, other customers can see this and judge the company on how well they respond.

Many organisations have realised that us customers don’t just want the cheapest product but that actually we want good service, we want to be wowed by their customer service skills and made to feel special and unique. Which is great, because with the best will in the world no company will always get everything right for every customer and having an open complaints policy, actually inviting customers to provide feedback will help make improvements for all their customers. Right now Three mobile have the phrase and twitter handle #MakeItBetter to fully embrace this idea of making improvements.

Why, when a company makes accessibility improvements do they not shout about it?

We work with many organisations who do amazing things to make sure their websites are accessible to all their customers, yet when we ask them to promote the changes they shy away. Many feeling that to talk about an improvement means a) they were doing something wrong initially and b) it will invite people, not necessarily customers, but people simply looking for a fault to tell them the website isn’t accessible. This could well be due to the way accessibility consultants and charities in the past have handled accessibility issues, the focus has been on shaming companies who are not inclusive, trying to take legal action using the equality act.

There are over 12 million disabled people in the UK, and apparently, only 7% of those 12 million customers complain to organisations who do not have accessible websites. Research suggests that 70% of websites are not accessible. That’s potentially 11,160,000 people who have come across a website, not been able to access it and simply walked away, taking their business elsewhere.

Having started my career in customer service this makes me a little sad. If only 7% of customers are reporting issues, then many organisations simply may not realise there is a problem or even a demand from disabled people for their services.

We want companies to stop seeing accessibility as something that their customers don’t need or that if they start, someone will put their efforts down. Accessibility is an area of continual improvement, and frankly, I’d rather see 10 websites trying to make improvements than just 1 doing it perfectly

Change your perspective, a complaint is feedback for an improvement you can make

Many companies will pay many pennies for user testing and include disabled users within their testing, and whilst this is a good thing to do, a paid tester is not necessarily interested in your service. The one example we use with our sporting customers is around audio description. Do you want it to be very calm and factual, or do you want it to be commentary style and get the listener excited? We can tell you, you need audio description, your customers can tell you how they want it.

Encourage your disabled customers to feedback on their experience, you really will get no better source of disabled user testers than your own customers. You don’t need to know how to fix their problem. You don’t need to be an expert in their disability. All you need to do is listen, get them to explain the problem they are facing and we will help you find a solution either as a one off request or as part of a larger accessibility improvement campaign

Tell people when you’ve #MakeThingsBetter

If you have made an improvement, tell people about it and encourage them to come back to you. If only 7% of disabled users complain about a website, then potentially there is 93% of other disabled users that won’t know you’ve made changes. It is all well and good having an accessible web site, but if people are not aware about it they will never use it.  A lot of companies are loud and proud about luxurious customer experience, eg. Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, Selfridges, Harrods, The Ritz, Emirates and Qatar so why are we not loud and proud about web accessibility.  Globally there are more than 1 billion disabled people and potentially a business could be losing out on this massive population of shoppers

If you make an improvement for your disabled customers we want you to tell them, tell them you care about them – be loud and proud about your efforts

If you need any assistance in improving your website accessibility then contact us today.

For more information on our Disability Awareness e-learning, please use this link… https://visualisetrainingandconsultancy.com/training/disability-awareness-e-learning/

About the author

Daniel Williams, the director of Visualise Training Consultancy