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6 May 2020 / Opinion

Accessibility: More important now than ever before

Rachel Harrison / Sarah O'Donnell

We all know that accessibility is important, however, improvements still need to be made. People are missing out on key safety information about Covid-19, due to their accessibility needs not being met.

Did you know that…

Organisations that do not have accessible websites, apps or content are not only excluding a percentage of the population, but are also at risk of lowering their overall conversion rates:

  • It is estimated that there are 4.3 billion disabled online shoppers, with a spending power of £11.75 billion in the UK
  • Businesses lose approx. £2 billion a month by ignoring the needs of disabled people

Source: The Purple Pound infographic

Accessibility during the Covid-19 pandemic

With all these stats considered, we can all see why accessibility needs to be at the forefront of our minds. However, during the current pandemic there has been a surplus of infographics relating to Covid-19, which have failed to be accessible by not having text alternatives available. This has caused frustration online for many users who claim that this key information isn’t accessible and openly available to everybody.

Twitter accounts, such as @CovidAccessinfo are aiming to make sure that all vital updates are provided in an accessible way, if they weren’t originally posted in an accessible format by the originator.

Accounts such as @10DowningStreet, have faced criticism and have been guilty of similar examples, despite having millions of followers.

 Text Coronavirus you must Stay at home. Only go out for essentials food and medicine. Work from home if you are able to. Not meet anyone outside your household. Exercise daily
A screenshot of an infographic posted by the @10Downingstreet Twitter account, explaining 6 key guidelines during Covid-19, which did not have a text alternative available.

Not only are businesses and government bodies making mistakes online, we are also failing to meet the needs of the hard of hearing demographic, by not providing translators for key messages that are being broadcast to the public on television. This has caused fury among many, and has even resulted in an online petition being launched to ensure that this doesn’t happen again and that all emergency announcements on TV have British Sign Language Interpreters: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/301461


Tweet from @ActionOnHearing exclaiming that they were shocked that the public announcement on the 23rd March relating to Covid-19 did not have a British Sign Language interpreter.

How can retailers improve their accessibility?

We have seen a 144% increase in people choosing to order their groceries online (Similarweb data), showing that supermarkets are being relied upon more than ever as people stay home and isolate. Supermarkets have a responsibility to ensure their websites and apps are accessible, so this service is available to as many people as possible.

While others are still opting to shop in store, they are required to understand new shopping rules and regulations when going into the shops; information that some retailers have released on social media in an inaccessible format.

Although the issue appears to have been exacerbated in the current circumstances, it isn’t just in a pandemic that following accessibility guidelines is essential. Brands need to ensure that they are aware of the guidelines and make sure that their services and communications are broadcast in an accessible format.

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of ensuring everyone has access to important information, however this can be translated to life pre / post Covid-19 and the importance of ensuring everyone has access to your product and service. Not only is investing in accessibility the right thing to do, it also makes sense for brands to be as accessible as possible, considering the amount of people impacted by some form of disability who may not be able to convert on your website.

Accessibility basics

We have highlighted just some of the ways to ensure that you get the accessibility basics right:

  • Always include alt text on images / graphics
  • Make sure that any video content has a transcript or subtitles
  • All text should be legible, ensuring it is of an adequate size, and meets colour contrast guidelines

Accessibility should always be considered when creating new material, not as an afterthought. Getting into a rhythm of making sure that you test everything that you create will help you to check you’re meeting the needs of your audience. For instance, testing that your content works with a screen reader, and conducting user research on audiences with different accessibility requirements.

Here at Epiphany, we are working to educate more people on why accessibility is so important during Covid-19, by making our teams more aware of accessibility and trying to increase our clients websites and our own accessibility. There is still a lot of work to be done, and a lot more widespread education required to even out the playfield for everyone.

To find out more about how we can help meet your accessibility needs, please get in touch with us or drop us a Tweet or message on LinkedIn.