We live in an increasingly digital age. Banking, shopping, utility switching and account management, sports, entertainment, and so much more have moved online and into the cloud. Bank branches and storefronts have closed, cashiers have been replaced with self-service checkouts, and call centres have downsized to accommodate our increasingly automated world.
This is great news for our independence, and ability to self-service our needs in a time to suit us. However, if the technology is not properly considered and implemented, it can seriously impact brand reputation, profits and business progression.
As longevity increases and birth rates slow, consumers over 65 have become the largest holders of financial wealth in the UK, holding over three quarters. They have also become the fastest growing consumer age bracket, with increased spending power to over 50% of UK consumer spending.
This same group is also the most likely to be impeded by accessibility issues due to the usual rigours of aging, namely decreased eye sight, dexterity and mobility problems, cognitive slow down, as well as any pre-existing disability or access issues. These individuals are often very tech savvy, with many being involved in the conception and implementation of the digital age.
Some banks are already leading the way in accessibility. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the leisure and hospitality industries.
Indeed, they may be missing out on millions of pounds worth of revenue. This is because users with accessibility issues are put-off or frustrated by websites and apps which are complex, unintuitive, contain to many forms or don’t allow accessibility tools to interact with forms.
To date, there has been no legal action brought by a consumer against a company under UK’s Equality Act 2010 for Digital Discrimination Accessibility. A student has, however, taken action against a qualification provider that failed to provide accessible course materials and examination.
The Tribunal found in the claimant’s favour and the qualification body was ordered to pay compensation. The qualification body appealed but once again lost against the Tribunal ruling.
It’s a different story in the US, with a high number of high-profile cases due to the lack of accessibility. These have included Netflix, Disney, and Target, with fines and compensation awards in the hundreds of thousands to tens of millions of dollars. It’s not a stretch to imagine the new public sector accessibility regulation being incorporated into the Equality Act, which could result in the number of legal cases rising to the levels seen in the US.
As an example of brand damage due to disability discrimination, we need look no further than Ryanair. From leaving a wheelchair passenger stranded on the tarmac and charging for wheelchair use, to refusing to assist a disabled passenger with their luggage and stopping autistic passengers from boarding, Ryanair clearly does not have accessibility in mind.
Ryanair’s business model means they don’t take notice of bad publicity or a poor reputation, but this is not the same for every business. As we enter an age where accessibility awareness is much more prominent, failure to be inclusive will become as brand damaging as data breaches.
Between providing accessibility to your current audience and thinking about your future one, delivering on the promise of inclusivity should be a priority now. Talk to us today to find out how we can help you navigate the challenges of accessibility and better service your users’ needs.