Thursday 3rd December marks International Day of People with Disability (IDPD), originally created by the United Nations and designed to bring awareness and celebrate the diversity of the global community. This years’ theme is ‘not all disabilities are visible’, something Leeds-based behavioural research and UX consultancy, SimpleUsability, is keen to encourage businesses to consider when interacting with their customers.
After SimpleUsability’s -research moved to become 100% remote this year, the team reconsidered how they could improve the way the firm recruits and researches with participants with a variety of needs and digital skillsets. In turn, SimpleUsability has been working with large UK organisations by providing research into the experiences of those with disabilities and additional needs. The agency is now calling on other businesses to consider how inclusive customer touchpoints such as websites, direct mail and emails, are to all types of customers.
A study by WebAIM in 2019, discovered 97.8% of the top one million websites failed to comply with web content accessibility guidelines. This leaves millions of people unable to properly access and understand a website and the ramifications of this are not limited to just shopping online. Being able to access information or services online can be a lifeline to those most in need. A study commissioned by CDS, which acquired SimpleUsability in October 2020, revealed 82% of customers with access needs would spend more if websites were more accessible.
Cheyenne Ritfeld (pictured), works as an account manager for SimpleUsability and is hard of hearing. Cheyenne comments: “I’ve shared my own experiences to help our team and our clients do more to help those with accessibility needs. For example, I often need people to look at me when they speak and if someone talks into my ear in a crowded environment, I won’t be able to hear them. This can even make video calls tricky if the person’s image isn’t clear on screen, or when fearing a face mask as we have all had to do this year.
“We want to raise awareness of days like IDPD to show the importance of accessibility in all aspects of business, but it should naturally filter through in our everyday lives too. I hope by sharing my experience and improving our work in this area it helps people consider how tricky it can be just to function in everyday society when you have additional needs of any kind.”
Judith Doherty, strategy director for SimpleUsability, adds: “As businesses confirm their 2021 strategy plans, we urge leaders to consider how inclusive their communications are. Adopting an inclusive approach means putting the needs of your audience at the heart of everything you do.
“It’s not acceptable for accessibility to continue to be an afterthought, when the ONS reports that almost 14 million UK residents are classed as disabled, with many more with varying needs that affect how they interact with organisations. As a business, we are doing all we can to learn from and listen to those in society that need more support, and by working closely with the rest of CDS to combine our research knowledge with our inclusive communications expertise, we can offer clients the support they need to make the right changes.”
SimpleUsability has created a manifesto, to help businesses learn ways in which they can ensure accessibility is at the forefront of any activity.