Comparison websites need to promote full access

Posted in General, Money Saving on Wednesday, May 9th, 2012 at 10:29 by Sarah Evans.

Most consumers understand the value of conducting a credit card comparison and carefully considering the merits of one car finance arrangement versus another.  Such comparisons used to be conducted mainly over the phone or in person; these days Brits are far more likely to turn to the online world to help them make their financial decisions.

Unfortunately, not all websites are equally well-positioned to assist consumers with disabilities to access these comparison features.  The latest survey conducted by AbilityNet has revealed that several major comparison sites did not meet “minimum legal requirements for accessibility.”  Consumers with disabilities use adaptive devices and technologies such as screen readers, which can assist the blind by reading webpages out loud; another common adaptive technology is voice recognition software.  Some of the sites studied by AbilityNet did not work adequately with such devices.

According to Robin Christopherson, who heads the Digital Inclusion Department at the charity: “The law is clear on this issue.  It is just as illegal to bar disabled visitors from accessing your goods and services online as it would be to keep them out of your shop in the ‘real world.’  While no company would do this knowingly, this report shows there are plenty of high-profile sites that are contravening the Equality Act 2010 by not considering their disabled customers.”

The Equality Act 2010 bars discrimination by any business that provides facilities, services or goods.  When a business website is not accessible by those who have disabling conditions, the business could be subject to a lawsuit for discrimination.  It is far better from a legal and a customer relations standpoint for businesses to make their websites fully accessible to all consumers.

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