Click-Away Pound 2016

Click-Away Pound - Emerging Findings, March 2016

  Steve Brownlow, Accessibility Director, Frabjous Day Ltd.

11 million people in the UK are living with a limiting long-term illness, impairment or disability. For them, as for everyone, the Internet should be empowering and liberating; independence at the click of a mouse. But what if you can’t use the mouse… or can’t see the screen… or can’t hear the audio…

For the sake of simplicity, types of disability may be categorised into four main groups:

  • Visual (varying degrees of vision, colour-blindness)
  • Hearing (varying degrees of hearing loss)
  • Motor impairment (inability to use a mouse, limited manual dexterity)
  • Cognitive impairment (such as dyslexia, autism and learning disabilities)

Each category of disability requires web content and design to be adapted to the needs of the user.

Early indications from the Click-Away Pound survey suggest that many websites still do not pay enough attention to the needs of their disabled users, and those users aren't happy.

Respondents to the CAP survey have highlighted some specific examples of the issues they face on the websites of some of the biggest online retailers.

User 1 is partially sighted. She has difficulty reading small print, especially if the colour contrast between the text and the background is poor. She noted that one well-known high street store uses the light-green colour of their brand for some text, making it almost impossible for her to read. She said “so many sites are poorly designed… it makes me feel like they don't care about me as a customer”.

User 2 finds it difficult to use a mouse, so he relies on the keyboard to navigate around a website. He highlighted the fact that one major retail site has helpfully included a “skip to main content” link at the top of the page, so that keyboard (and screenreader) users do not have to tab through hundreds of menu links before getting to the content of the page. But the link doesn’t work on every page. He also noted that when he tabs through a particular supermarket site he can’t see the focus indicator so he doesn’t know which link he is on. He said “It all adds up to an upsetting experience and an unsatisfied non-customer”.

User 3 has Dyslexia. She mentioned a number of big retail sites where large blocks of text and constantly moving images make using the site so uncomfortable and exhausting that she goes elsewhere. She said “I just tend to get tired and give up”.

User 4 is blind and uses screenreader software. He highlighted a number of sites where he finds it very difficult to fill in forms, which are essential for shopping online because they are used for key processes such as registration or entering your payment details. But if forms are not coded properly, screenreader users cannot tell what information is needed. He said “I think accessibility is the last thing website designers think about when launching a new site”.

User 5 is deaf and relies on captions to enjoy videos. She mentioned several examples of video interviews without captions or text transcripts of the spoken content. She highlighted a major ticket reseller, where she would have been interested to see what Liam Neeson had to say about War of the Worlds but was excluded by lack of captions. She said “I will not be buying tickets again from them”.

The Internet offers the opportunity of independence to disabled users, but only if web content is designed and built with accessibility in mind.

  © Steve Brownlow, Click-Away Pound 2016