Advocacy charity SCOPE estimates that there are 13.9 people living with disability in the UK, meaning a significant portion of the population live with some form of mental or physical condition that makes day to day living difficult. Like most other people, people diagnosed with disability use the internet, with up to 12 million disabled people active on the internet, according to ONS Figures. Despite this, evidence suggests that engaging with eCommerce can be a daily challenge for those with specific accessibility needs.

How to improve accessibility in eCommerce

The current state, and basic steps to take

Accessibility in British websites has not been studied in any great detail; however, an indicator as to how important it is has been signalled by legislation. The Government Digital Service has outlined how new regulations will mean that all public sector websites need to be accessible by 2020. As in all walks of life, private sector regulation often follows public, and so expect to see a drive towards accessibility on all websites. In terms of how businesses can adapt today, the most important step to take is to design with accessibility in mind. By making your website with accessible technology that acts as a foundation for new, accessible features, down the line you can implement key features that will benefit both your consumer base and the success of your online business.

Retaining security

Some of the most common disabilities are related to sight and hearing. As a result, security features can become a problem for basic access to websites; services such as CAPTCHA, used by millions of URLs, can become an unassailable difficult for those with accessibility needs. W3 have provided one such solution for these sorts of accessibility challenges. Essentially, the onus should be moved on to providing an alternative. Given the effectiveness of CAPTCHA, it would be unwise to discard with it entirely; instead, providing alternatives that can cater to any person is important. This is also of benefit to your business. According to agency Fifty Five and Five, security is one of the most highly ranked aspects of Google’s SEO algorithm.

Making purchases easier

The levels of verification required to make an online purchase can be difficult. The number of details required can be time consuming to complete, and poorly put together web forms can be a source of frustration even for those without any accessibility requirements. Improving this requires a little extra thought. For smartphone apps, using inbuilt fingerprint recognition is a great and foolproof way to achieve this for many people living with disability. Otherwise, smart voice recognition can be the way forward; like old-school call centres, but better, a forward-thinking website will have the capability to accept full payment details via voice activation.

This is just a sliver of the possibilities for web services when it comes to accessibility. There is a huge range of conditions that create accessibility needs, and finding ways to cover the majority of them will help to improve your website and give you a sense of having done something the right way.

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