Disabled cut off from consumer websites

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany popular websites fail to cater for disabled people’s access needs. Our CEO, Tim Leech, puts this problem in perspective as a dyslexic web user.

“Out of the UK’s top five price comparison sites, four score one star for disabled accessibility and one scores two stars, says AbilityNet, using a scale in which three stars indicates ‘a base level of usability.’ ComparetheMarket.comConfused.comGocompare.com, mySupermarket and Kelkoo all fail to provide an inclusive service for consumers. Even with screen readers and voice recognition, people with visual impairments, dyslexia or cognitive conditions struggle to ‘read’ websites not designed for them. Author Terry Pratchett, an early-stage Alzheimers sufferer, chimes in on the Guardian website to voice his own frustration with using these sites with voice recognition software. As a severely dyslexic person, I also have a personal story to tell.

“The other day, my stepson used one of the most popular insurance comparison sites to get a quote for his new car. Proud of the new driver in the family, I wanted to help him out with the knowledge that comes from years of car ownership. But because of a badly designed site, he had to read everything out to me, making the whole process take much longer than it should have done. If I lived alone, like many of our beneficiaries, this problem would make it near-impossible for me to use these sites, cutting me off from the best deals. With cuts to Disability Living Allowance and other services also in place, it’s a terrible shame to exclude people already at a disadvantage from these useful consumer resources.

“In this day and age, websites should be prepared to cater for everyone. Until they do, WaveLength can’t support internet provision as a catch-all solution for people who find it hard to get out of the house. We’ll keep campaigning with all our strength for real social inclusion of disabled, older and vulnerable people.”