AbilityNet responds to government consultation on new digital accessibility laws for public sector websites and apps

Picture of an inaccessible websiteAbilityNet has taken part in the UK Government’s consultation on new digital accessibility laws for public sector websites and apps.

The new EU Directive on the accessibility of the websites and mobile apps of public sector bodies will be brought into UK law later this year.

The government will implement the new rules in UK law by passing regulations that will place new responsibilities on public sector bodies to make their websites and apps accessible.

We are a national digital accessibility charity that helps older people and disabled people of all ages use technology to achieve their goals at home, at work and in education.

So our response to the government’s consultation was a renewed opportunity for us to ensure that our views about the new rules and how they should be monitored and enforced are heard by the government.

Here are the highlights of the key points from our response:

Comments on the proposed timeline

The implementation timeline is too generous and should be shortened as public sector websites and apps are critical for disabled and older people. All public sector bodies have had ample time to factor accessibility into web development and procurement decisions. Only a tiny handful of websites (and virtually no apps) predate the Equality Act 2010, let alone the code of practice in 2003 that left people in no doubt that digital services were covered.

Exempt organisations

Some public sector organisations like schools, nurseries and kindergartens will be exempt from the new laws. However, we strongly feel that there is no excuse for any organisation to have an exemption from making their website or app accessible. There is no clear reason for an exemption.

We need the whole of the public sector including non-governmental organisations leading the change to ensure accessibility. Only by having all websites included will we make a step change - and the suppliers to the public sector will be forced to build and provide accessible digital solutions. Considering accessibility from the outset makes inclusion realistic and cost effective.

Content exemptions

The new laws will have some content exemption. Whilst some exemption cases are acceptable, this list goes too far and lets many organisations off the hook. For example, exempting documents not intended for primary use on the web, such as PDFs, Microsoft Word documents, etc, is unacceptable.

Such documents can be readily made accessible unless they are dynamic in nature (such as an interactive forms), but in such cases accessibility is even more important so extra resource should be identified. The fact that this type of content is not delivered through the web, but instead perhaps by email on request, is of no significance.

Disproportionate burden assessment

The concept of a ‘disproportionate burden assessment’ will be enshrined in the new laws. However, we don’t feel that the criteria are appropriate. Size, resource, nature, etc are not excuses for inaccessibility.  Arguably cost may not be a valid reason if the lack of accessibility prevents people from accessing or using online services or content and excludes or disadvantages users.

Budgetary restraints may be cited but exactly the same range of tools and guidelines exist for this sector as for others – making accessibility achievable and maintainable. There is no clear reason for the exemption. Considering accessibility from the start is shown to have a circa 2-5% additional cost saving and the return on investment is considerable – more future-proof, less bandwidth/hosting costs and lower risk of litigation.

Our comments on proposed enforcement of the Directive

We think that using the Government Digital Service (GDS) to provide the monitoring and reporting on the Directive is not appropriate, as they are not independent of government. Ideally a body that is independent of government would be set up to hold public sector bodies to account and provide proper credibility on the UK’s commitment to digital accessibility for the benefit of disabled and older people.

A model for this could be the National Audit Office which is accountable to Parliament, or the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman – arguably this role could also be fulfilled by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Either way we need some ‘traffic wardens of the internet’ – see this article that kicked-off our longstanding campaign calling for compliance, along with several others since, culminating in our recent evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee in March 2018.

There should be real and suitable sanctions for those bodies that do not comply with the Directive, otherwise we will continue to have a commitment that has no teeth and has been ignored for far too long, leaving disabled and older people at a severe disadvantage.

Ultimately, what we need is a directive like this to apply to all organisations in the UK across government, public sector, private sector and the third sector.

AbilityNet and RNIB to hold joint tech volunteers day at IBM in London

Together with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) we are holding an event for tech volunteers at IBM Southbank in London on Friday 01 June, the start of Volunteers Week. Around 50 tech volunteers from each charity will attend the day, which is all about celebrating the great work they do.

What’s happening on the day?

In the morning we have presentations from industry experts including Robin Christopherson MBE, AbilityNet’s Head of Digital Inclusion, and Robin Spinks RNIB’s Innovation and Technology Relationships Manager.  

Following this Orcam will be demonstrating how technology is advancing to help blind and partially sighted people, using their latest intuitive smart camera that fits on eyeglasses, you will be also be able to trial this later in the day.

To end the morning session there will be an interactive Q&A session with representatives from AbilityNet, RNIB and our guest speaker from Amazon, Mark Wood. During the afternoon we will break into smaller groups to take part in some interactive workshops:

  • Workshop 1: Disability Awareness training from Enhance the UK, a charity run by disabled people which offers interactive training sessions that challenge the attitudes and perceptions of disability. 
  • Workshop 2: Using everyday accessible tech to make life easier (apps/software). 
  • Workshop 3: Guest speakers from Amazon will be demonstrating the Echo and its uses as well as answering your techie questions.

We'll end the day with some afternoon tea and the chance to chat to our marketplace exhibitors who are on hand to answer your questions. They include Hands free Computing, Stroke Association and Family Fund.

We're delighted to say that this is event is already fully booked! If you'd like to find out more about the types of support our volunteers provide, you can read our IT Support At Home page

Join our volunteers!

Our UK-wide team of wonderful volunteers provide one-to-one IT and technology support to older people and disabled people of all ages through home visits and remote support. We're always looking for more volunteers, so if you think this is for you apply now to start the process of becoming a volunteer

5 Tips to create accessible Facebook posts

How can you make your Facebook posts reach millions more people? These tips will help make sure that people with disabilities can still access your photos, videos and words. 

1. Add captions or alt text to photos

So that people who or blind or who have vision loss can understand your photos, you could either add more detail about a picture into the Facebook post which includes your photo - that way the post makes more sense everyone. Or you can edit the automatic alt text which Facebook automatically generates on images. This text is often quite simplistic - ie, it might just say something like ‘1 person’ or 1 person, glasses, smiling’. Note you can only do this using a computer as it doesn’t work on a phone.

To change this automatic text, choose one of your uploaded photos. Click the ‘edit’ button in the top right-hand corner, then select ‘change alt text’. Keep the text short and to the point. If the image is purely decorative, you can leave the box blank. But if the image contains words, it’s good practice to convey those words in the alt text, or better still, in the main post.  
 

2. Automatic video captions

Facebook adds automatic captions to videos, as does Youtube. For users of your page who are deaf or who have hearing loss, as well as people who might just prefer to have the sound off because they’re at work or in a public place, this feature is useful. People who are blind can listen to the captions. Find out more about how to edit captions here. If a video has few words in it, it’s good practice to provide a written or audio description of what's happening/explain the message or meaning. 
 

3. Facebook live streaming

Live streaming is becoming increasingly popular on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. As a baseline of accessibility, you might want to think about how your video will be received by someone with vision or hearing loss. Can the speaker in the video be more descriptive to help a blind person? Can you provide a sign language interpreter in the live stream, for example? You could also upload the video with captions as soon as possible after the event. 
 

4. Keep words simple and clear

The average reading age in the UK is nine years old, so keep sentences and keep posts simple. Think about the fact that someone with memory loss might also read your post, or someone with learning needs or autism might also read it. Your words will be more widely understood if you’re as clear and direct as possible. You can check the reading age of your text here. Keep acronyms to a minimum, write words in full and avoid abbreviations. 
 

5. Check colour contrast on images, animated GIFs and infographics

Be aware that about 2.7 million people in the UK alone are colour blind. Therefore any infographics and images, particularly those with text included in them, should be well colour contrasted to be more clear - this is a requirement under Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. There are free colour contrast checkers online, such as this one.

For the latest on creating accessible Facebook posts and how to make the most of Facebook if you have a disability, click here.

Celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day with us

Thursday 17 May marks the seventh annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital aGAAD logoccessibility and inclusion for people with different health conditions and impairments.  We'll be doing our part, with our team attending and talking at a variety of GAAD events throughout the day...

 

GAAD began in 2012 and now takes place on the third Thursday of May each year. The idea for the event was started by a single blog post written by Joe Devon, a web developer at the time, tentatively suggesting the event and encouraging people to spread the word.
 

AbilityNet sponsors London Accessibility Meetup

We are one of the sponsors for this month's London Accessibility Meetup which takes place on GAAD. There are three talks lined up; 'Think inclusion, not Accessibility', 'Top down and bottom up: Gaining insights from the people who know best' and 'Accessibility is Usability'.

 

Find out more about the London Accessibility Meetup on GAAD

 

Tune in to see AbilityNet as part of BBC Accessibility Awareness Day

Robin Christopherson MBE, AbilityNet's Head of Digital Inclusion, will be speaking as part of the inclusive output from the BBC for GAAD. There will be content throughout the day from the BBC, with Robin talking about voice assistants and spoken interfaces at 1:45pm BST.

 

Find out what the BBC is doing on GAAD and access live coverage

 

Join AbilityNet at the UXPA event, hosted by Barclays

Alladin Elteira, an Accessibility and Usability Consultant at AbilityNet, will be speaking at the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA) GAAD event hosted by Barclays. Alladin will talk about upcoming updates to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) - version 2.1.

 

Find out more about Alladin's talk on the upcoming updates to WCAG

 

Alex and Adi go LIVE on Facebook

Facebook logo

Alex Barker is AbilityNet's Advice and Information Officer. He has a rare condition called Moebius Syndrome and a characteristic of this is restricted hand dexterity. Alex will be going live on Facebook, completing a task on his computer to raise awareness of accessibility features.

 

Adi Latif is an Accessibility and Usability Consultant at AbilityNet. He has a visual impairment and uses a screen reader that converts visual information into auditory information. Adi will be completing a task to show how a screen reader communicates the information on a website.

 

Follow our Facebook page to get notified when Alex and Adi go LIVE

 

Join in the GAAD celebrations, follow us @AbilityNet #GAAD

5 ways to make your tweets accessible

About 14 million people in the UK have a disability, and many more around the world. Perhaps your tweets aren't getting the biggest audience that they could? Making your stream accessible could help.

Twitter bird cartoon

1. Use accessible photo captions and alt text when tweeting

In 2016, Twitter brought in an option to give descriptions for images on Twitter. The descriptions are read out by screen readers to let blind people or those with low vision hear what’s in the picture.

To enable this (it sounds complicated but is very quick to activate):

  1. Go to Twitter’s app/website
  2. Go to your image in the top right-hand corner of your screen
  3. Select ‘settings and privacy’
  4. Choose ‘accessibility’ from the list on the left.
  5. Click the ‘compose image descriptions’ box to activate this option.

Then, when you compose a tweet with an image, an ‘add description’ button will appear and you can input ‘alt’ (alternative) descriptions of up to 420 characters.

This is particularly important if there are words in the picture but not always necessary if the image is abstract or purely decorative.

Note: If you're adding an infographic with complex information, it’s a good idea to link to a data table with the same information, which is likely to be more easily accessible.

For full info on adding Twitter image descriptions using your voice or with screenreader assistance, see Twitter’s help page here.

Most Tweet scheduling platforms don't have an Alt text option, but Buffer and Twitterific do offer this option. 

2. Add full photo description within the main Tweet for text-heavy images

For infographics or images with big chunks of written information contained in the picture, ie a menu - it’s simpler and neater to add a text alternative in the main text of the tweet.

3. Make your hashtags accessible

Use what’s known as ‘camel case’ for the hashtags in your tweets - #ABitLikeThis. When you do, it means screenreaders used by people who are blind or visually impaired will hear the words individually rather than as a long incoherent word, as is likely to be the case if no letters are capitalised.

4. Use plain English

Avoid acronyms and make sure the meaning of the tweet is very plainly clear. This is likely to help people on the autistic spectrum, as well as someone with a learning disability or dementia. In addition, the average reading age in the UK is nine years old. Try these tools to check the readability of your tweets - Flesch–Kincaid readability metrics or Readability-Score.com.

5. Colour contrast

If your tweet contains an infographic, make sure the colours are well contrasted, so they are easy to decipher for people who are colour-blind or have a visual impairment. There are various free sites which will check your page for colour contrast. Click here.

Need more information?

Three amazing productivity apps which are also accessible

Two of the things that blind people like myself usually love are words and audio content of all kinds. I’ve been looking at three incredible and fully accessible iOS apps that help with speedy typing, finding and ‘pinning’ interesting items for later and efficient audio editing.

FlickType

FlickType is a bit like a new incarnation of Fleksy and has some of the FlickType team behind it. It works as a miraculous keyboard app that enables you to rapidly tap on the screen in a vague approximation of a word, possibly getting every single letter wrong but still giving you the right word as a result. FlickType matches the shape of the word you've tapped out with the shapes of actual words, and offers you the closest match by default, along with a list of other potential matches.

After an extensive period of beta testing, FlickType is now available as a free app for iOS. Here is FlickType in action as demonstrated by me, a completely blind person (which I’m sure will be all too apparent as I miss the majority/all of the letters I’m aiming for).

Currently only a standalone app, FlickType will soon also be available as a system keyboard. My concern about this is that, as a blind person tapping out words, if I accidentally tap too high and into the app above the top of the keyboard, what will happen? Well, the developers assure me that you’ll be able to do this and still be considered as typing on the keyboard. I’ve absolutely no idea how they’ll pull off this fantastic feat but I look forward to 'seeing' it in action. 

Pinterest

Pinterest is a free service beloved by over 200 million users worldwide. It helps you easily browse and ‘pin’ items such as posts, images and videos to save for later. Just as one might have done on an old fashioned cork board in real life.

Until a recent refresh, this app had a wide range of issues for people with low or no vision – from small fonts to poor colour contrast and unlabelled buttons (unlabelled buttons can't be read by screenreaders) that prevented a blind user from even being able to sign-up for the service in the first place – but now you’ll see (or hear) a huge difference. Check it out. For more details about changes and the team’s motivations, there's a great piece on the Fast Company website here. Or perhaps pin it for later?

Ferrite

Perhaps more than any other group, blind people love audio – and especially the spoken word. Podcasts and audio books are favourite methods of obtaining news and pursuing interests.

Many blind users are also audio creators. I’m personally involved in two podcasts: the daily Alexa skills podcast Dot to Dot and the all-things Apple podcast with a visual-impairment focus, called Maccessibility.

Being able to easily edit on the go is an incredible productivity boost - particularly if your podcast is daily like Dot To Dot. Ferrite is an amazing iOS app that takes the complex arena of audio editing and simplifies it into a really clean touch-first experience that is totally inclusive for everyone.

Ferrite is free with an in-app purchase available for some additional features. I.e advanced audio-editing (such as the magic auto-levelling for those times when voices are at a range of volumes or, in the case of recording demos of Alexa’s skills, when certain games or quizzes have sound-effects that would otherwise blast the ears of the listener), this app is the all-in-one studio on the go.

It’s an achievement to make a primarily text-based app accessible, but an audio-editing app with its playhead, waveforms and splicing points all accessible deserves a huge round of applause. If only I could edit such an applause into this article at this point!

Robin Christopherson is the head of digital inclusion for AbilityNet. Find more of his accessibility blogs here

If you need help making technology work for you, call our helpline on 0800 269 545. And, to make your app accessible, click here.


 

Don't miss the deadline for the Tech4Good Awards, 1 week to go!

Just one week left to submit your entries into the UK’s foremost inclusive technology awards – celebrating the amazing people who use tech to make the world a better place.

The Tech4Good Awards, now in their eighth year, are organised by AbilityNet and BT and look to recognise the organisations and individuals who create and use technology to improve the lives of others.

The awards are free to enter, and this year’s eight categories include those for digital health, community impact and young pioneers. Past winners include Canute, the world’s first multi-line braille reader designed with and by the blind community, the Dyslexic Aid developed by two school-girls and a breath-controlled video game to help make home physiotherapy practice more exciting.

Mark Walker, AbilityNet at the 2018 launch of the Tech4Good Awards

Mark Walker, Head of Marketing and Communications at AbilityNet says:

“We are so enjoying receiving the entries for this year’s awards. There is such depth and breadth to the ideas, talents and skills that go into making this technology, and the awards are the perfect way to celebrate them.”

“For example, last year’s Community Impact Award was won by innovative online and in-person translation service Chatterbox; which brings the talent of refugees together with people and organisations in need of language skills. An excellent example of seeing a problem and harnessing skills alongside technology to create a win-win solution for all.

“We’re looking forward to discovering the new ideas and recognising those in the country who have been working hard this year to create technological solutions to the challenges that many face.”

Any business, charity, individual or public body in the UK is eligible, and submit their entry by 6pm on the 08 May via the Tech4Good Awards website.

People can nominate themselves or others across eight categories:

  • AbilityNet Accessibility Award
  • BT Connected Society Award
  • BT Young Pioneer Award
  • Comic Relief T4G for Africa Award
  • Community Impact Award
  • Digital Health Award
  • Digital Skills Award
  • Digital Volunteer of the Year Award

Entries are judged by an expert panel of judges who have worked across the technology, digital and charity sectors and have the job of narrowing down 250+ entries to just 28 finalists.

Anna Easton, Director of Sustainable Business at BT - who sponsor the awards - says:

“Technology is the most powerful tool we have to take on society’s most pressing challenges. We founded the awards with AbilityNet to showcase those who are at forefront of technology innovation, designing solutions that deliver positive impact in communities all across the globe. Their stories will inspire the next wave of innovation and ultimately a better world”. 

The winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony hosted by BT on 17 July at BT Centre – a lively and inspiring occasion for all.

For more information and to enter go to:  https://www.tech4goodawards.com/enter-now/

 

Naidex 2018 Roundup: From Autism apps to saddle chairs and vibrating shoes

Alex Barker meets the TEC innovation the team behind the vibrating shoesYesterday we went and had a look at some of the new products on show at Naidex. Held annually at the NEC in Birmingham it describes itself as a marketplace for “innovations for the future of independent living”.

There were over 200 stands and we can’t confess to have visited them all, but here are some of the things that we liked. Salli Systems from Finland were there showcasing their saddle chairs and once you get over the fact that you do feel like you are getting on a horse the seats are quite comfortable!

 

Iansyst, and Smartbox Assistive Technology were there along with SignLive. They are well known assistive technology providers, and it was good to go and see what technology they had on their stands. More so this year, than in other years there did seem to be a real effort to show people what technology could do to help people become more independent in their own home.

 

Whether it was watches which doubled up as GPS locators so that people with dementia could be located and some of them even featured a useful “panic button” so they could call a nominated person to receive help.

 

Companies like Avail were also there and they were showcasing their app which helps people with autism and cognitive impairments become more independent by helping them to complete everyday tasks. On Wednesday 25 April our very own Head of Digital Inclusion Robin Christopherson was speaking about the importance of inclusive design in a mobile-first world.

 

Other companies displayed technology which could be used to help monitor elderly or vulnerable people in their own home. One of my favourite pieces of technology was shoes that could help visually impaired and blind people navigate around their area. If you got to close to an object the shoes would start to vibrate to warn you of danger. The shoes are called WALKASSIST and are made by an Austrian company, TEC innovation.

 

There were lots of leisure time organisations at the show too, from adventure holidays in the Lake District to holidays in Tuscany too. If you were interested in sports you could go and check out the action in the sports arena and if you wanted to find out how to get to places in specially adapted vehicles there were numerous dealers at the event.

 

Normally I don’t buy any products at these shows, but I always come back with a load of leaflets. However I did find a mug holder called a Muggi for carrying hot drinks. As I have difficulties carrying drinks at the best of times it seemed like a great idea. It’s purple and it’s plastic and it is a really simple idea. Some times the simplest of ideas can be the most useful!

Webinar: 5 ways to make digital services work better for people on the autism spectrum

Dafydd Henke-Reed, accessibility and usability consultant for AbilityNet, takes us through his recent webinar for organisations and individuals looking to make Autism-friendly websites, digital services and technology. 

Dafydd Henke-Reed writes:

It's my job to make sure websites are as accessible, easy-to-use and enjoyable as possible to use for people with disabilities, including people on the Autism spectrum.

Currently the most-used figure for the number of people on the autistism spectrum is one in 100, but the rate of diagnosis is rising and could be as high as 1 in 59 people. See more about the increase in diagnosis here. This means at least 700,000 people in the UK are on the Autistism spectrum. The NHS describes Autism spectrum disorder an umbrella term for a range of conditions… that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour". The National Autistic Society (NAS) states that Autism is a a "lifelong development disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others". 

See or listen to the webinar below:

:

Traits common among people with autism, that may impact use of technology and the web, include:

  • Social anxiety
  • Osessive behaviours/ strong special interests
  • Ritualistic behaviour, i.e, repetitive movements of hands in a certain way
  • Sensory sensitivity 

Baseline checks for ensuring your website or app is Autism-friendly:

1 Avoid autoplaying videos

As people who are on the autism spectrum can be sensitive to sensory overload, it's not ideal to have a video automatically play unexpectedly with potentially loud output. Turning off autoplay also makes the web experience better for people with other disabilities, so is a good rule to follow. 

2 Ensure phones are not activated by shaking movements 

A friend of mine had what's known as a 'stimming' behaviour. Examples of stimming include repeating physical movements or sounds. My friend shakes her hands back and forth which seemed to automatically light up the flashlight on her phone so she became a human beacon. This is something to be mindful of.

3 Make sure any scrolling or moving info can be controlled

When looking to make sites autism-friendly for our customers such as high street banks and corporates, we ensure that there is always the option to stop and pause any moving images on a page. Otherwise moving features could lead to sensory overload.

4 A predictable website is more Autism-friendly

If you press the space bar or click somewhere and something unexpected happens on a website, that is not autism-friendly and is bad practice. A website should be predictable, organised, structured and logical for everyone. If a chatbot pops up, that might be unexpected and a user should be told what that is and also offered and alternative option such as an email address to converse with someone. We call this ‘consistent navigation’ and it is a legal standard, i.e an AA requirement under the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines - which we work from (see more on these guidelines below).

5 Consider softer pastel colour palettes

Pastel colours can be less overwhelming. Colour contrast is something different and an important accessibility requirement for people with certain vision impairments or colour-blindness so the two needs should be considered together. If you have some important information that needs to be very clear on your site, you could employ colour contrast principles and use some brighter colours for certain sections, but use strong colours sparingly and make the backgrounds and general pages more neutral / pastel in their tones.

pastel colour chart

Web Accessibility Guidelines

AbilityNet use the widely-employed World Wide Web Consortium's (W3) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to test sites. These guidelines are currently being updated and you can find more information in our WCAG 2.1 Webinar. Single A requirements under the WCAG are the basics which all websites should have, double AA is the next step up and triple A (AAA) is hard to achieve and very few websites meet it. 

Triple A (AAA) requirements includes the use of Plain English, which is an important consideration for any website and particularly for someone who has autism This means use of metaphors, sarcasm, poetic language and any language that isn't literal could be difficult for people on the autism spectrum and other sections of the population to understand. The average reading age in the UK is nine, so keep that in mind (check out our very useful piece on writing for nine year olds). 

Social interaction with technology

Autism is not on the agenda of developers and designers very often. But, as the web becomes more and more social and interactive, rather than just words on a page as was previously the case, it poses various questions around ensuring the digital experience is as smooth and enjoyable as possible for people who have autism. People on the Autistic Disorder Spectrum may feel more comfortable not interacting with people and feel more comfortable interacting with machines, this can become confusing and potentially scary when, for example, online characters are increasingly made to look more human. 

Finally, the most important rule when checking your website is Autism-friendly...

Testing is essential. Always test your website with a wide variety of different people. One person who's Autistic will be very different from the next, so check with a range of people. Offer quiet testing rooms and ask about anything that feels uncomfortable or off-putting offering verbal and non-verbal feedback options and/ or using clear multiple choice options. 

 

Digital Leaders and AbilityNet put accessibility at the heart of digital design

AbilityNet is the new Accessibility Partner for the Digital Leaders network.

The UK charity has been a global leader in accessibility for 20 years and delivers consultancy and design services to a range of blue chip clients, including Lloyds Banking Group and many other members of the Digital Leaders network.

AbilityNet will deliver a range of events and resources to enable network members to put accessibility and inclusive design at the heart of their digital projects. This includes weekly blog posts, regular webinars, salons and other one-off events.

The Digital Leaders Network has over 50,000 members in the UK and many other countries. Its founder Robin Knowles has worked with AbilityNet over several years and sees this as an ideal way for network members to upgrade all their digital projects.

He said:  “Too many people see accessibility as a bolt on, but AbilityNet and their clients are showing that it is a cost-effective way of delivering better digital products and services for every customer.

“I’m delighted that we will be able to use their expertise to build awareness of inclusive design and demonstrate some of the practical lessons to be learned.”

AbilityNet CEO Nigel Lewis sees the decision to work with Digital Leaders as part of its mission to build a more accessible digital world.

He said: “The members of the Digital Leaders network deliver services and products to millions of people so this is a huge opportunity to change the world for the better. As a charity we use our expertise and resources to put accessibility and inclusive design at the heart of every project.

“Our consultants work with clients from wireframe and initial designs to final testing and customer research. We provide training to digital teams, we deliver events such as TechShare pro to share practical knowledge and we were founding members of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals alongside companies such as Adobe, Microsoft and Lloyds Banking Group.”

A well-known figure at many digital events, AbilityNet’s Head of Digital Inclusion Robin Christopherson was awarded an MBE for his contribution to digital inclusion. He’s excited by the prospect of connecting with the members of the Digital Leaders network.

He said: “I’ve worked in this field for over 20 years and have seen technology become a key part of everyday life. The big shift we’re seeing now is the move to inclusive design – making every digital project work for every possible user.

“That means we’re working with the whole digital team, including designers, researchers, UX specialists, marketing, developers and customer services. We still link directly with accessibility specialists across the world but we also see how this approach is bringing benefits across the business”.