Under the Equality Act of 2010, businesses have a legal obligation to ensure disabled consumers can access websites. Yet most retailers generating digital content don’t consider the needs of people with disabilities when devising web material.
This means that not only are people with disabilities being denied access to online goods and services, but the combined annual spending power of £80 billion (DWP, 2004) by disabled UK residents continues to remain an untapped source for business.
Dr. Jean Irvine, OBE, Commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), says:
“Cutting out disabled consumers can be costly for businesses, not just in terms of their spending power but also that of their friends and family. They also run the risk of being taken to task for failing to comply with equality law.”
The British Standards on web accessibility (titled, BS 8878) outlines a framework for web accessibility when designing or commissioning web products. However, it seems few companies act on the advice given when creating websites and online content.
A welcome and appropriate effort to remedy this is being pioneered by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, upheld with the advice and experience of AbilityNet and the Chartered Institute for IT. These organisations have collaborated to produce the first training course for digital accessibility, Digital Accessibility: Web Essentials.
The course is designed to equip anyone who generates digital material for the web with the skills and knowledge to enable their work to be fully inclusive for all users. Widely available online, people with disabilities can request accessible formats of the course content from the EHRC.
Written by Kerry Barr