Guardian urges disabled shoppers to call out inaccessible shopping sites

Online shops that want to benefit from the £200 billion purple pound each year are being further urged to make their websites fully accessible to disabled customers. 

online shopping

The Guardian newspaper is currently asking Britain’s 12 million disabled people, who have a perceived spending power of at least £200 billion, known as the 'purple pound' to reveal and share which clothes websites are falling short of expectations.

The Guardian call out follows a report by the Extra Costs Commission last year, led by pan-disability charity Scope, which highlighted its research showing that 49 per cent of disabled people feel they only have some of the information needed or wanted when shopping on or off-line.

Inclusive fashion

The charity We Are Purple, which connects businesses and disabled people, also launched their Help Me Spend My Money campaign over the summer, encouraging businesses to offer an inclusive experience for all shoppers.

It is a legal requirement in the UK for public-facing websites to be accessible to disabled customers. This includes sites being created to interact with screen-readers for blind people, and to interact with customers who can only use a keyboard, rather than a mouse.

The Guardian writes:

“Where designers have supported the move towards diverse casting and even showcased disability models, many disabled consumers cannot access these trends due to poor shop accessibility. Retailers are commonly unaware of the needs of disabled customers…”

The paper also hopefully points out that Edward Enninful, the new editor of British Vogue, has said he wants the fashion industry to be more inclusive.

In the piece, the newspaper's readers are encouraged to fill in a form explaining their stories and experience to inform Guardian articles and coverage on this subject.

Complaining about inaccessible shopping sites

Almost one in five people has a disability. In last year’s report, the Extra Costs Commission, said: “Only by sharing information about our needs and expectations as shoppers, by complaining and speaking up when dissatisfied and by being more demanding as consumers, will companies have the market data to serve us better and to help reduce the cost of essential goods and services."

Joe Chidzik, senior accessibility consultant at AbilityNet works with businesses such as those in the fashion sector to ensure their websites meet legally accessibility requirements.

Commenting on the Guardian call out, he says:

“Shopping websites exhibit some particular types of issues. As a transactional website, it is important for people to be able to not only add items to their basket, but also know that they have done so, and then be able to manage their basket eg, update amounts, remove items and add items."

"With shopping websites, more even than other sites, it is easy for users to ‘vote with their feet. If a site is inaccessible, chances are that a more accessible site is a few clicks away. The additional difficulties that some disabled people encounter navigating physical shops, mean online shopping has the potential to be a lifesaver for some, but it must be accessible!"

Any type of e-commerce website is a prime method of tapping into the purple pound; the disposable income of disabled people is 100s of billions of pounds. A more accessible website leads directly to more customer conversions.

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