Global Economics

British Dot-Coms Fail to Serve Disabled


The UK's top online shopping sites all fail to meet basic web accessibility guidelines put in place to make it easier for people with disabilities such as sight impairments to use the internet.

The study of the top 30 retail websites found that not one homepage achieves single-A compliance, which is the minimum requirement by law for making websites more accessible for disabled people in accordance with the globally recognised Web Content Accessibility Guidelines3 version 1.0.

The retail websites tested included Amazon, Apple, Argos, Carphone Warehouse, Dell, Expedia, lastminute.com, Marks & Spencer, Next, O2, Tesco and Thomas Cook.

All but one website used graphical text that would be difficult for people wearing glasses to read, while 28 sites did not provide appropriate text descriptions for all images to make it easier for blind or partially sighted people to understand visual content.

Pop-up windows are also used on 25 of the websites and can cause problems for people with visual impairments and those using screen magnifiers.

The only retailers on the list credited for making a genuine effort to improve the accessibility of their websites are John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Tesco.

The study was carried out by web usability company Nomensa, which said businesses risk alienating the more than 10 million disabled people in the UK who, according to the Disability Rights Commission, have a collective spending power of ?80bn.

The report said: "Almost without exception, online retailers are not taking web accessibility, customer experience or profitability seriously."

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