Web Accessibility

Blog by Mike Adams

Those that know me will be surprised I am writing about digital developments.

This is from a man that holds on dearly to his beloved, but outdated Blackberry, and who has only recently switched to telephone banking!

But I am clearly an outlier as more disabled people have both access to, and an understanding of, using digital products (smart phones, tablets etc.) as part of their everyday lives! It is far too simplistic to believe one statistic that gives the impression disabled people do not have access to the internet.  The reality is very different and in two/three years times digital technology will become the primary modus operandi for most people.

Purple is working hard to ensure disabled people do not get left behind in the digital transformation.  We are soon to launch our Purple Surfers programme to practically support disabled people to use greater functionality on the products they already own.  And the services we provide, including direct payment support services, will be available online, fully accessible, and available 24/7.

Without falling into the Theresa May trap of “strong and stable” the Purple mantra to businesses is one of disabled people being a commercial opportunity.  The consumer spending power of disabled people and their families (the Purple Pound) equates to £249 billion a year.  But we know 70% of websites checked for accessibility were considered to be at a significant commercial, PR or legal risk because of their lack of accessibility.  As the increasing front of door to the modern shopping experience, what does it say if, in effect, the sign at the door says ‘you can’t come in.’

A blind friend of mine recently tried to buy a higher end coat for his partner but failed as the site did not respond to his Jaws software.  He didn’t try again.  He won’t be back and I suspect some of his family and friends will now directly or sub consciously boycott the retailer.  And it need not have happened and was a problem which was very quick and cheap for the retailer to fix.  The example I have described is increasingly known as the clickaway pound.

Purple’s Web Accessibility campaign will promote the need for the internet to become Disability Confident.  It will work with consumers and organisations to share tips and experiences of good and poor web accessibility practice.  It will engage with businesses to support them with advice and guidance on how to open up their offer to existing and new customers and not chastise them for what they haven’t done.  And in line with Purple’s principle of drawing on lived experience we will have a number of guest blogs from industry experts and savvy consumers. We would also love for you to all get involved on our twitter page my sharing your experiences and tips using the #PurpleWeb.

Perhaps before the summer is out this Chief Executive might have made his first online purchase – watch this space!

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