User Testing Unveiled: A Step-by-Step Exploration

Inclusive design and accessibility have emerged as critical factors shaping user experiences.

User testing with disabled users and ensuring your products are accessible can help reach a broader audience and cater to the needs of diverse users, but what are the strategies for success and what does the step-by-step process of user testing look like?  

In this blog, AbilityNet’s expert Accessibility consultant, Lucy Woodcock, shares her experience of user testing projects, highlighting the key stages and the pivotal role accessibility experts play in creating a seamless user experience. 

AbilityNet expert’s contribution to user testing Lucy Woodcock smiling

As an accessibility consultant at AbilityNet, I’m involved in the usability testing projects from start to finish -  the designing of the testing, running the sessions, and collecting insights and feedback.   

Preparing and planning a user testing project 

User testing begins with meticulous planning.

Setting dates, arranging calls and recruiting participants are the initial steps. We have a diverse range of user testers who can review our client’s digital content and services on a variety of devices. A crucial call with our client helps align objectives and ensures clarity in expectations. This groundwork sets the stage for a valuable and inclusive user testing project.  

Preparing a user research plan Graphic of a person writing on a piece of paper

Fail to plan, plan to fail – a mantra that echoes through the halls of successful insightful usability testing.  

The preparation stage involves crafting a research plan, which includes a list of task questions. The research plan is regularly evaluated against the agreed client’s research objectives to make sure that these goals stay at the forefront of our minds.  

It is important to have access to the testing product or prototype when we’re doing this preparation so that we are confident in the journey flows that we’ll be asking our participants to follow. This also means we can liaise with our client to iron out any unexpected issues before the testing sessions. 

What AbilityNet user testing looks like

Remote usability testing works well for most of our projects. 

While AbilityNet’s London office has excellent usability testing lab facilities, the flexibility of remote participation appeals to many potential testers. Remote user testing also provides our clients with the unique opportunity to experience raw feedback from real users firsthand. We provide our clients with logins to observe the sessions, turning the testing day into a collaborative experience. 

Analysing user testing results 

Analysis of the user testing is a crucial part of the user process. Here, the findings come together - the key issues are highlighted and recommendations start to take shape. Grouping identified barriers into key themes and exploring participant suggestions for improvement is akin to producing truly accessible and inclusive websites, apps and web content. 

Exploring the tools available to optimise the efficiency of the analysis stage is an ongoing activity, and different experts and consultants have different preferences, as well as some tools being suited to types of data. From a wall of sticky notes to digital collaboration, the tools may vary, but the goal remains constant – insightful analysis.  

Writing a user testing report Graphic of a clipboard with checkmarks and an image and video play icon

The user testing report is the end deliverable for our clients, and, as such, contains all the salient information from the project.  

A good user testing report includes insights that are evidenced and relevant recommendations, closely linked to our client objectives. It's important for the report to be clear, justified and measurable to increase implementation and improve the product’s accessibility. We also collate the report findings as a slide deck for clients so they can present information to key stakeholders who want an overview of the report. 

Improving websites and apps with user testing results and recommendations

A retrospective of a project allows the team at AbilityNet to reflect on improvements that can be made to future projects.

This final part of the process gives the individuals involved in the user testing project a space to review successes and identify areas for improvement. Our commitment to continuous improvement ensures adaptability to evolving client needs, making each project a stepping stone to future success.

 

Ready to conduct inclusive user testing?

We make sure that you ask the right people the right questions at the right time and make the best use of their feedback. Find out how to get the most from your user research budget.

Enquire about our user testing service

 

How do I do user testing myself?  

Knowing how to conduct user testing yourself can give you the reassurance that you are making accessibility improvements and focusing your resources in the right areas. You can learn how to begin your own accessibility testing on our online training course.

 

This blog is based on Lucy Woodcock’s gathered experience of different AbilityNet projects and does not represent any single project, client, or participant.

Free webinar: How tech can help people stay engaged and independent in older age

Graphic showing woman participating in online chat sitting at deskOlder lady and man smiling and looking at laptop on desk in informal settingWould you, or someone you know like to know more about how the online world can help in your life?

With the new year providing fresh enthusiasm and many people learning new skills, now is the time to conquer your tech anxieties and embrace digital freedom and how it can improve your life!

Join our free webinar to learn the basics of the digital world: Digital discovery at any age: your guide to the online world with BT Group and Amazon on Wednesday 28 February 2024, 1pm GMT. (Note, this webinar has now passed, but you can watch the recording at the link above).

Open to all, the session will focus on some of the basics of online activities and highlight issues that older or elderly tech users may be particularly interested in. We'll be providing straighforward suggestions for useful tech adjustments for everyday digital devices.

Guest speaker James O'Brien from Amazon will share how widely used Alexa and Echo devices can be used to make many tasks quicker and easier, while AbilityNet speakers Caroline Martin and Carole Deary will outline how digital devices can help everyone stay engaged and independentc, with suggestions for how everyday tech tools can simplify your life.

Come along to our webinar

All those who register for the session will receive the recording after the session is broadcast, so do sign up to benefit from the information, even if you can't make it on the day.

Bring a friend, relative or client

Offering this free webinar is one of the ways in which we're trying to help bridge the digital divide, so to reach more people you could both sign up for yourself but also bring along a community group to learn together and share the advice:

If you work in an organisation with clients who could benefit from learning about the digital world, please do share this session and encourage them to sign up or show them how the Zoom webinar process works. It's also a great session for organisations who provide digital inclusion support to service users. 

Bring a group to the webinar

 

AbilityNet in partnership with BT Group logoThis webinar is part of AbilityNet's Digital Skills project with BT Group to support people 65+ with getting online and using technology, such as:

- learning how to use email
- make video calls
- use online banking and book medical appointments

Sign up for Free BT Digital Skills sessions for people over 65 in your area. (Available to people in and around London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Cardiff.)

Further resources

Blog: 12 scams to be aware of and how to avoid them

Free disabilities sessions: educate your group about disability and technology via our sessions which we can deliver to your organisation.

Workplace training: choose from a selection of online learning options for you and your team.

How AbilityNet can Help

Learn essential digital skills for free in Glasgow

A profile image of Caroline Martin smiling to camera. Navigating the online world can be overwhelming, especially if you're unsure about searching for information, figuring out which websites to trust, or understanding how your digital device works.

If you're 65 years old or over, live in Glasgow, and are eager to improve your digital skills, AbilityNet can help!

Join AbilityNet in partnership with BT Group for a free session at BT Group's office in Glasgow.

Expert Digital Skills Trainer, Caroline Martin and the BT team will be your guides at these engaging sessions. 

What can I expect during the sessions?

The sessions are designed to address any tech concerns you might have, and empower you with the skills needed to navigate the digital world safely and with confidence.

The sessions will cover:

  • How to stay safer online
  • How to get started with being online
  • Learning more about your digital device
  • Plus, a tour of the state of the art facilities at BT Group's Glasgow office

Our trainer is dedicated to providing personalised assistance, answering any questions you may have, and helping you become more comfortable with your digital device and the online world. Tea and biscuits will be available during the sessions too.

What previous session attendees say:

•    "At 93 your service was and is of great help to me and my generation" 
•    "I was so impressed with the trainer, who listened and really helped a lot"
•    "Very easy to ask questions and receive simple answers"
•    "It is really the course I needed. I learn something new every week"
•    "It is very excellent. It gives me more hope to do some things that I wouldn't do before"

Where and when are the sessions being held?

The Senior Skills Sessions are on Tuesday 27 February, during any of the following time slots:

  • 10:00am - 12:00pm
  • 12:30pm - 2:30pm
  • 3:00pm - 5:00pm

Don't miss out on this fantastic opportunity to boost your digital skills!

BT Group Office Address: BT Group, Alexander Bain House,15 York Street, Glasgow, G2 8LA

Closest train station: From Glasgow Central, the BT Group office is a 5 minute walk.

Closest bus stop: From York Street Bus Stop, the BT Group office is a 2 minute walk.

Google map of BT Group's Glasgow office

How do I book my place?

Email digitalskills@abilitynet.org.uk with your name and phone number and our team will be in touch to confirm your place.

You can also call our helpline on 0300 180 0028* during UK office hours to register.

Older man and woman smiling looking at laptopFree webinar: Digital discovery at any age: your guide to the online world with BT Group and Amazon

Caroline will also be speaking on our upcoming webinar: From buttons to bytes, learn how to enjoy a digitally connected life in your guide to becoming tech savvy in your senior years - or at any age.

Join a FREE webinar on Wednesday 28 February 2024 between 1pm - 2pm GMT.


Register for the webinar
 

I don't live in Glasgow, how can I get digital skills help?

AbilityNet, in partnership with BT Group logo

We are running the sessions in London from 14 February, but if you're over 65 years of age and looking to build your skills, we're offering free digital skills sessions in areas in and around London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff. 

Trainers can build something bespoke for your group or for an individual and run sessions including:

  • Getting to know your Smartphone or Tablet
  • Staying Safer Online
  • Getting started with Email
  • Using Social Media, e.g. Facebook
  • Online entertainment, e.g. watching TV online
  • How to access Public Services e.g. Gov.UK
  • How to make a video call
  • How to manage your health online
  • How to bank online

Attend a free session

 

How to boost your online skills: free learner factsheets

Make the most out of life in a digital world using this range of factsheets and other resources build online skills and confidence.  


Download your factsheets
 


How AbilityNet can help

*Please note: calls to our helpline number cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number and count towards any inclusive minutes in the same way as 01 and 02 calls, and AbilityNet does not receive any money from these calls

10 ways AbilityNet can support your mental health: Time to Talk 2024

Time to talk promo reads "It's all good!" Sometimes means I'm stressed and burned out. Time to Talk Day is the perfect opportunity to start a conversation about mental health.Time to Talk Day is an annual event that encourages people to come together and "talk, listen and change lives." This year it’s on February 1st 2024. 

It's an opportunity to reach out to others, to talk about what's on their mind, the positives, the negatives, the triumphs, and the worries. The point is to make the space and take the time to talk and listen and to make a single day the first step in an ongoing conversation. 

Here are ten ways AbilityNet can help promote the mental health of individuals including kick-starting a conversation about mental health. 

1. Mental health and inclusive workplaces

AbilityNet's popular "Don't Disable Me" series of training sessions include a session focussing on mental health and the barriers that we can inadvertently create in the workplace. Based on lived experience, the session covers language and busts some taboos as well as providing some tips (both tech and cultural) to ensure you're not creating barriers for others when it comes to their wellbeing and mental health.

2. Start a conversation with AbilityNet

A picture of the Helpline's Alex with headphones onAbilityNet supports older and disabled people with technology. While the focus is on technology what really matters is the impact that technology has, and how it can improve the lives of older and disabled people.

Refer-a-Friend to us or call our helpline on 0300 180 0028. We offer a range of support including how to use technology to chat with family and friends.

Call AbilityNet's helpline on 0300 180 0028

Please note: calls to our helpline number cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number and count towards any inclusive minutes in the same way as 01 and 02 calls, and AbilityNet does not receive any money from these calls

3. Volunteer

Volunteering has been demonstrated to improve our mental health; we feel good when we help others. Beyond this, volunteering is a great way to meet new people, to connect, share, pass on knowledge, and learn from others.

Are you passionate about the power of technology? Would you like to help us bridge the digital divide? Do you have a few hours available each month? Why not become an AbilityNet volunteer?

You don’t need to be a tech guru to help. Typical help requests for a volunteer include:

  • Helping someone set up an email account
  • Showing someone how to use online video calling via WhatsApp or Zoom
  • Setting up a new device and connecting it to the internet
  • Giving advice on anti-virus protection and internet safety
  • Changing basic device settings to make it easier to use

4. Get help from an AbilityNet volunteer

We have over 300 volunteers across the UK who can help you stay connected through technology. Our amazing volunteers help older people and disabled people of any age, anywhere in the UK helping people to access services, stay in touch with friends and family ... as well as work out why the printer suddenly stopped talking to the iPad!

 

5. AbilityNet answers your questions about mental health

AbilityNet Helpline’s Alex Barker answers some commonly asked questions about mental health, including “How can I work more effectively”, and “I need to be able to “take time out”. How can I do this?”.

For support with technology for disabled and older people, or if you have specific questions for Alex and the team call 0300 180 0028. 

Call AbilityNet's helpline on 0300 180 0028

Please note: calls to our helpline number cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number and count towards any inclusive minutes in the same way as 01 and 02 calls, and AbilityNet does not receive any money from these calls

6. Technology to help older people stay in touch

Older people can be prone to isolation and are potentially also less tech-savvy. AbilityNet has featured previously featured two solutions designed specifically to help older people stay in touch with family and friends: GrandPad and KOMP, but we can now add the Echo show with its numerous helpful features, including its "Hands-free video calling".

You can read specific FAQs about both solutions GrandPad and KOMP.  

GrandPad includes a built-in button to initiate a call with support 24/7. 

7. Support with mental health: partnership work

AbilityNet works in partnership with other organisations, charities, and businesses ensuring that the right resources get to the right people. AbilityNet was a partner in the Digital Lifeline project, a project led by Good Things Foundation and funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports (DCMS) that supported over 5000 people with learning disabilities in staying connected during the pandemic.

8. Mental health support for students

Disabled students can get support with mental health through the Disabled Students Allowance. Plus read our list of seven apps to reduce anxiety at University

You can also watch a recording of our AbilityNet Live! session on mental health.

9. Apps and gadgets for mental health

There are a number of apps designed to support mental health. Read AbilityNet’s round-up of apps for wellbeing and mental health. 

You might also be interested in some of the slightly unusual gadgets for supporting mental health that may (or may not) have made your wishlist this Christmas.

10. Adapt your websites and make them accessible

Companies can help by ensuring that their websites, apps, and digital services are accessible to all that means adapting websites for older people, people with disabilities and embracing inclusive design

AbilityNet offers a range of services to help you design accessibly.

Download our brochure for more information. 

Help and support with mental health

C.A.L.M. – Campaign Against Living Miserably – for men

0800 58 58 58

www.thecalmzone.net or webchat

Samaritans

116 123

jo@samaritans.org 

www.samaritans.org

Papyrus – for people under 35

0800 068 41 41 

Text 07786 209697

pat@papyrus-uk.org

https://www.papyrus-uk.org/help-advice/about-hopelineuk

Childline – for children and young people under 19

0800 1111 – free and the number will not show up on your phone bill

Further resources for mental health

Making online connections with rare condition Moebius Syndrome

Alex BarkerAbilityNet Disability Consultant Alex Barker has a very rare disability called Moebius Syndrome.

In this blog, released to mark Moebius Syndrome Awareness Day 2024, he explains how technology has enabled a community of people with the same condition to come together from all corners of the world.

What is Moebius Syndrome?

I celebrated my 50th birthday last year. 

Back in 1972 when I was born the world was a very different place. I was born with an extremely rare condition (researchers estimate that the condition affects 1 in 50,000) called Moebius Syndrome. This means that I'm unable to smile or to show any facial expression. If I knew how to play poker I'd have the best "poker face" ever. I don't have all my fingers or toes either. What I do have is a loving family and they have supported me throughout my life. 

Lack of accessible information

However, one of the difficulties that my family faced back in the 1970s was that information about Moebius Syndrome was hard to come by. The Moebius Syndrome Support Group in the UK consisted of people who had children with the condition writing to each other to share information, or by having a meet-up every so often.

If you wanted to research information you had to go to a specialist library and spend hours wading through content trying to find information, and then finding a photocopier to make a copy of that info.

Online support for rare conditions

Text reads: Moebius Syndrome Awareness Every DayThere are many stories of people who have Moebius feeling lost and alone because they couldn't find anyone to share their experiences with. When I started university in 1995 the internet was still fairly basic. I decided that I would set up a website hosted on Geocities for people living with Moebius in the UK... but this platform is sadly long gone! 

I wasn't the only one setting up an online space to discuss Moebius. Slowly but surely the community developed with lots of people all around the world starting their own websites, or "Home Pages" as they used to be called. I gradually started to reach out to people that had Moebius.

I even started to reach out to a woman in Florida with the same condition. We used to make each other "mix tapes". She used to spend her summers in California and I met up with her one year. I also met people from France, Sweden and Norway with the condition. The internet was becoming so useful for people like me to connect with other people in the same situation.

Romance within the Moebius community

Two hands shaped together like a heart, with a sunset in the backgroundFast forward 15 years or so and I started chatting to another woman in the USA who had Moebius and what started off as friendship soon became much more. We got married in her family church in Lexington, North Carolina in November 2018. Our trans-Atlantic courtship got lots of coverage on the internet, and it culminated with the New York Times taking pictures at our wedding!

January 24th every year is Moebius Syndrome Awareness Day (MSAD) where people are encouraged to wear purple to raise awareness of the condition. Technology helps us to get our message out to all the corners of the world and to give people a better understanding of the condition.

Lived experience of disability is valuable in the workplace

What has my condition got to do with my work as a Disability Consultant at AbilityNet? Well, it means that I have lived experience of living with a disability. I've got a really good understanding of how difficult it can be sometimes to get my work done.

A good example is that my writing looks like a five-year-old's, but put me in front of a keyboard and I can really show my talents off. Another example is that I know what it is like to have Access to Work support. When I worked in an office I found public transport difficult to use, so Access to Work paid for a taxi to take me to and from work. Finally, I love giving presentations, and I love making atendees laugh. Quite ironic as I can't show facial expression!

I've also got a really good handle on how useful tech is for me to do my job well. I share this experience and provide information on how to you can help others in your workplace with physical disabilities in an AbilityNet training course: Don't Disable Me - Removing Physical barriers. I also run free disabilities sessions to educate community groups and charities about disability and technology.

Disabled people often have to remove physical barriers to enable them to live, study and work effectively. I’ve used technology to enable me to study at college and university and I love passing on my experience to other people so they can benefit from the same positive opportunities that I’ve had.

Further resources

Webinar playback: How technology can help people with Parkinson's

Ask Alex: Voice recognition technology

Factsheet: How to apply for an Access to Work grant

Learn essential digital skills for free in West and Central London

Navigating the digital world can be overwhelming, especially if you're unsure about searching for information online, which websites are trustworthy, or understanding your digital device.

Steve Mersereau smilingIf you're 65 years old or over, live in London, and are eager to improve your digital skills, AbilityNet can help!

Join AbilityNet in partnership with BT Group for free Senior Skills Sessions in West London and Central London.

Expert Digital Skills Trainer, Steve Mersereau, will be your guide at these engaging sessions. 

You can choose to attend sessions at either BT Group's EE Studio Store in Westfield London, or AbilityNet's central London office. Details below.

What can I expect during the sessions?

The sessions are designed to address any tech concerns you might have, and empower you with the skills needed to navigate the digital world with confidence

The sessions will cover:

  • Learning more about your digital device
  • How to get started with being online
  • How to use a search engine
  • How to stay safe online

Our trainer is dedicated to providing personalised assistance, answering any questions you may have, and helping you become more comfortable with your digital device and the online world.

Where and when are the sessions being held?

The Senior Skills Sessions are available on Wednesdays (EE Store, Westfield Shopping Centre) and Fridays (AbilityNet Central London), starting from 14 February until 8 March.

Don't miss out on this fantastic opportunity to boost your digital skills! Below are the full details:

What previous session attendees say:

•    "At 93 your service was and is of great help to me and my generation" 
•    "I was so impressed with the trainer, who listened and really helped a lot"
•    "Very easy to ask questions and receive simple answers"
•    "It is really the course I needed. I learn something new every week"
•    "It is very excellent. It gives me more hope to do some things that I wouldn't do before"

Free digital skills sessions at Westfield London:

Join us at the EE Studio Store in Westfield London on any of the following days:

  • Wednesday 14 February: From 10:30am - 12:30pm
  • Wednesday 21 February: From 10:30am - 12:30pm
  • Wednesday 28 February: From 10:30am - 12:30pm
  • Wednesday 6 March: From 10:30am - 12:30pm

EE Store Address: U2073 Westfield London, Ariel Way, W12 7GF

Blue Badge and Disabled Parking: Over 5 percent of parking bays at Westfield London are dedicated to disabled parking, and they offer Blue Badge holders 4 hours of free parking every day of the week.

Travel information on how to get to Westfield London

Free digital skills sessions at AbilityNet London office:

Can't make those dates? Join us at AbilityNet's London office on any of the following days:

  • Friday 16 February: From 1pm - 3pm
  • Friday 23 February: From 1pm - 3pm
  • Friday 1 March: From 1pm - 3pm
  • Friday 8 March: From 1pm - 3pm

AbilityNet London office address: 5-11 Worship Street, London, EC2A 2BH

Closest train station (15 minute walk): Livepool Street Station - All Elizabeth Line stations are step-free from station to platform.

Closest underground station (7 minute walk): Moorgate

Google Map of AbilityNet's London office

How do I book my place?

Email digitalskills@abilitynet.org.uk with your name and phone number and our team will be in touch to confirm your place.

You can also call our helpline on 0300 180 0028* during UK office hours to register.

Older man and woman smiling looking at laptopFree webinar: Digital discovery at any age: your guide to the online world

From buttons to bytes, get familiar with how to enjoy a digitally connected life in your guide to becoming tech savvy in your senior years or at any age:


Watch the webinar
 

I don't live in West London, how can I get digital skills help?

AbilityNet, in partnership with BT Group logo

We are running the sessions in Glasgow on 27 February, but if you're over 65 years of age and looking to build your skills, we're offering free digital skills sessions in areas in and around London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff. 

Trainers can build something bespoke for your group or for an individual and run sessions including:

  • Getting to know your Smartphone or Tablet
  • Staying Safer Online
  • Getting started with Email
  • Using Social Media, e.g. Facebook
  • Online entertainment, e.g. watching TV online
  • How to access Public Services e.g. Gov.UK
  • How to make a video call
  • How to manage your health online
  • How to bank online

Attend a free session

 

How to boost your online skills: free learner factsheets

Make the most out of life in a digital world using this range of factsheets and other resources build online skills and confidence.  


Download your factsheets
 


How AbilityNet can help

*Please note: calls to our helpline number cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number and count towards any inclusive minutes in the same way as 01 and 02 calls, and AbilityNet does not receive any money from these calls

12 scams to be aware of and how to avoid them

This article was originally published in December 2022. Updated January 2024.


The internet opens you up to a whole new world of opportunity, but it also exposes you to a wide variety of online scams. Our Guide of 12 scams helps alert you to some common scams and how to avoid them.

The Twelve scams cover:

  1. WhatsApp Messenger scams
  2. Online shopping fraud
  3. Delivery scams
  4. Amazon 'brushing' scams
  5. E-card and gift card scams
  6. Supermarket scams
  7. Refund scams
  8. Fake websites
  9. Microsoft Support Scam
  10. Facebook bonus scams
  11. Banks scams
  12. Travel scams

1. WhatsApp Messaging scam

WhatsApp Messenger is a simple, convenient and powerful way of keeping in touch with family and friends. Its popularity, however, has made it a popular target for scammers, and messaging scams are on the rise. 

What's the scam?

You may receive a message from someone pretending to be a family member. As in this example, scammers may ask you to transfer money for an emergency. Typically, the notes come from the accounts of hijacked accounts. 

How to avoid WhatsApp scams

Advice from WhatsApp is to stop before you act. It's excellent advice for this and all scams, as revealed in our Free webinar with Greater Manchester Police, and an earlier free session, which featured Take 5 and others. First, ask if the message makes sense? Would a relative send this type of message? Finally, if you have any doubts, call the person and ask if they sent the message. 

2. Online shopping fraud

What's the scam?

Scammers hook you into fake websites claiming to sell items such as clothing, games consoles and other desirable goods, which never arrive. According to UK Finance, in 2020, people lost £27 million to fraud in the first half of the year. 

That amounts to £720 per case, on average. 

How to avoid online fraud

In this case, the adage "if it looks too good to be true, it probably is" is one to recall. Bargain prices on the year's must-have gifts should ring alarm bells. Buy from websites that you recognise. Where you don't recognise a retailer, look at their website and check for other means of getting in touch. For example, do they have a chat function, and does it work? Is there a registered address in the UK?

Avoid links that come from unsolicited emails, which are more likely to be scams. 

3. Delivery scams

What's the scam?

A box displaying the amazon logo on its sideYou'll receive an email (or text) letting you know that you've received a parcel or are due to receive one. There are many varieties of this scam. One from the Post Office, for example, asks you to enter personal information that it requires before it can send your parcel. The report includes personally sensitive information such as a bank account detail or date of birth. 

Later, you will receive a phone call from scammers who will use this information to convince you they are your bank and empty your account. 

Similar scams, saying you have a parcel, may appear to come from Hermes, DPD and amazon. 

How to avoid delivery scams?

First, ask if you're expecting a parcel? You might be.

  • However, there's no need to enter sensitive information to receive one, and none of the major delivery companies will ask for this - if an app or message is asking for this, it should raise alarm bells. 
  • Next, check with the company (not the delivery company) where you placed an order using your online account rather than an email. Again, don't click on links from within the email. 
  • If it's asking for money or personal information, it could be a scam. 
  • Check the address of the email sender and if it looks suspicious, ignore it. 
  • Watch out for generic greetings and grammatical errors, which suggest this is a scam. 

4. A surprise delivery from amazon

You might receive an amazon delivery you weren't expecting as part of a so-called amazon "brushing" scam. 

What's the scam?

Amazon Marketplace sellers send packages (often from China) to boost their sales volumes and reviews. Consumer champion, Which? logged deliveries of goods from fake eyelashes to bath mats and fairy lights. 

These scams aim to boost ratings and trick others into buying sub-standard products.

How to avoid the scam?

Those who have called amazon to report this scam were told to keep the goods. However, it may suggest your data is compromised, and so a change of passwords is advisable.

5. E-greetings with a nasty surprise

What's the scam?

A Christmas card positioned on a Christmas treeYou might receive an e-greeting reportedly containing a gift card from Amazon or another online store. Often, these messages contain malware, which will mine your email for the personal details of others and could also steal your personal information, including personal account details. 

Similarly, e-cards can contain malware. 

How to avoid the scam?

You should always be wary of unsolicited emails, particularly those bearing gifts. First, check the email address, and if you don't recognise it, the chances are it is spam. If the message does appear to come from someone you know, contact them and check whether they have sent you a gift. 

In the case of e-cards, particularly those containing links, think before you click and if in doubt, don't. 

Older lady and younger man discussing technology at a kitchen tableLearn how to master the online world and how it can benefit you, via free digital skills training from AbilityNet in partnership with BT Group.

Find out about our in-person support with scam advice and more!

6. Supermarket scams

These scams will offer a voucher to help you foot the bill. 

What's the scam?

Scammers have sent out a raft of emails claiming to be offering FREE vouchers at major supermarkets. 

Fake vouchers are circulating claiming to come from the likes of Aldi, Lidl, Tesco and Waitrose. Scammers are distributing them via a variety of channels, including email, WhatsApp and Twitter. 

How to avoid the scam?

It's another case of "if it's too good to be true..." The best action is to delete the message or email and not click on links you don't recognise. Alternatively, check the official website of the supermarket or their official social media accounts. If they are offering a deal, the likelihood is you'll find the details there. 

7. Refund scams

Did you pay too much for an order? Beware of companies offering a refund. 

What's the scam?

Credit cards arranged in a fan design in a back pocket of some denim jeansScams offering to give you a refund hit Argos a couple of years ago. The cons arrived via text and claimed to provide refunds for several hundred pounds.

Unfortunately, it included a link to a phishing website, which encouraged people to enter their details. 

How to avoid the scam?

It's easy to dismiss these scams if you haven't ordered from one of these websites where you have don't follow links from the website but visit the official company website and login to your account if you have one. Generally, you should avoid clicking on links from unsolicited emails. 

8. Website scams and fakes

Watch out for bargains that seem too good to be true - particularly those bearing cut-price gifts. 

What's the scam?

Illustration person on laptop. Screen reads "scam alert"There are many ways scammers try to hook you in during the festive season. Some will "spoof" or fake reputable websites, particularly around big days in the run-up to Christmas, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. They tend to focus on big, premium and desirable brands - Adidas, for example, has fallen prey to spoofing, as have many others. 

The scammers are sophisticated and will grab screenshots from the official site and use logos to create a genuine appearance. 

Often the scammers will "bait" you through emails that promise amazing offers but ones that are going to expire unless you grab a bargain immediately. 

For support with scams, and other tech issues, call our helpline on 0300 180 0028


How to avoid the scam?

As with many of the other scams, don't click on links from unsolicited emails. Instead, use your web browser to find the company's official website if you're genuinely interested in a deal. 

Other things to watch out for are:

  • Deals that appear too good to be true
  • Unusual domain (website) addresses with numbers or special characters
  • Too many irrelevant five-star reviews
  • Unusual payment methods such as money or wire transfer
  • Offers of fantastic cashback when you buy from the site
  • Typos and bad grammar
  • Lack of or unusual or suspicious contact details

9. Microsoft Technical Support scam

What's the scam?

You receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming that they have kindly detected an error or security risk on your computer they'd like to help you fix. The scammer then asks for permission to remote into your computer. They may ask you to download special software to enable this, first.

Next, they may show you "log files", which are normal but claim these are bugs that need fixing. They will then ask for credit card details to charge you to fix them - or convince you to subscribe to a service that supports you. 

How to avoid the scam?

Microsoft will never reach out to you in this way, so you should ignore any calls. It's worth pointing out that the remote software is legitimate and that reputable companies - including AbilityNet - may use it to fix your computer.

However, if someone - including us - calls you and you're not expecting it, you can hang up. Instead, find the official number online and call back. A genuine person won't mind. Don't be duped into calling back a number that the caller gives you. 

In addition, never give away personal details to someone who you don't know and who calls you online.

10. Facebook Bonus Scams

Generally, we trust people close to us, including friends and family, and this scam seeks to exploit that trust. 

What's the scam?

You'll receive a message via Facebook offering a bonus or special discount in time for Christmas. The message comes from a cloned Facebook profile, which appears to be from a friend or relative. It may ask you to send personal information to qualify for the bonus or gift.

How to avoid the scam?

The best way to deal with this is to ignore it. Do not respond to the message, and don't forward it putting other friends at risk. 

11. Banking scams

We may be spending more than usual at this time of year, so we're potentially receptive to calls from our banks.

What's the scam?

Someone calls and pretends to be calling from your bank. They may claim that someone else is trying to get into your account and/or they have noticed suspicious activity. They will ask for personal details such as your account number, for example. They will then walk you through a security process to generate transaction codes to transfer money into another account.

It's a way of transferring money out of your account and into their own.

Credit card close up. Wallet in background.How to avoid the scam?

Your bank will not make unsolicited calls to you. Period. All banks are clear on this point, and so if someone is calling you and claiming to be calling from your bank, you should be suspicious. 

If you're at all in doubt, hang up. For peace of mind, you can call the official number you have for your bank and ask if they tried to contact you.

Do not call back a number the caller gives you s number spoofing is common - and just because the number they are calling you from looks the same or similar as the one they're calling you from, still hang up and call back the official number online.

12. Travel scams

The travel industry is one of the hardest-hit by Covid-19, and there's potentially still potential for travel providers to cancel at the last notice.

What's the scam?

Scammers will tap into this and send messages about refunding your holiday, particularly if a supplier sadly goes under. 

How to avoid the scam?

As with many of the scams we've listed, you'll know if you booked a holiday with a particular provider - and a trip to a reputable news site will soon confirm if they've gone under. 

Watch out for poor grammar within these emails and as with general advice here, visit official websites first. For example, even if a travel supplier has ceased trading, there'll be an official message on its website, which will remain until the receivers and others have dealt with its decline.

Useful Resources

What can you do to avoid being a victim? Thankfully, there is a lot of excellent information available on the internet.  A great place to start is the Action Fraud website.  If you have been the victim of fraud, this website is also the best to report the incident. We would also advise you to Take Five and question what you are doing. 

You might also be interested in our practical tips to shield yourself from scams resources.

How AbilityNet can Help

Digital Voice help is coming to a town near you

Last year, BT announced the switch to its new digital home phone service, Digital Voice.

Between now and 2025 most telephone providers will be moving their customers from older analogue landlines over to new upgraded landline services using digital technology - this is collectively known as 'the digital switchover' and Digital Voice is BT's initiative as part of the switchover.

AbilityNet, as a charity that supports older and disabled people, has been helping to support with the region-by-region Digital Voice rollout.

Graphic of a phone and modem. Text reads: Digital Voice is coming to a town near you - come and speak to us about our new home phone service, Digital VoiceDigital Voice advice sessions

BT will be coming to 32 locations in the West Midlands throughout February 2024.

BT customers are encouraged to drop-in and have a 1-2-1 personal conversation about Digital Voice with a BT advisor, who can answer your questions or address concerns about making the switch when the time comes. 

You don't have to pre-book for any of the sessions, just turn up.

Information sessions coming up:

  • Birmingham: 7th February, 10:00 - 15:00, Ibis Birmingham Centre New Street Station, 21 Ladywell Walk, Birmingham, B5 4ST.
  • Coventry: 8th February, 10:00 - 14:00, Central Library, Smithford Way, Coventry, CV1 1FY
  • Leamington Spa: 8th February, 10:00 - 14:00, Leamington Spa Library & Information Centre, Royal Pump Rooms Parade, Leamington Spa, CV32 4AA
  • Stoke on Trent: 8th February, 9.30 until 12.30 & 13.30 until 14.00, Stoke Local Service Centre, S Wolfe St, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 4SZ
  • Solihull: 15th February, 10:00 - 14:00, The Core Library, Homer Road, Solihull, B91 3RG
  • Kidderminster: 22nd February, 10:00 - 14:00, Kidderminster Library, Market Street, Kidderminster, DY10 1A
  • Worcester: 22nd February, 10:00 - 14:00, The Hive, Sawmill Walk, The Butts, Worcester, WR1 3PD
  • Wolverhampton: 28nd February, 10:00 - 15:00, Bilston People’s Centre, Excel Church, Wolverhampton Street, Bilston, Wolverhampton, WV14 0LT
  • Newcastle-Under-Lyme: 31st January-1st February, 10:00 - 16:00, Morrisons, Goose St, Newcastle-under-lyme, ST5 3HY
  • Shrewsbury: 31st January-1st February, 10:00 - 16:00, The Square, Shrewsbury, SY1 1LA
  • Eccleshall: 2nd & 5th February, 10:00 - 16:00, Eccleshall Community Centre car park, 1938 Shaws' Ln, Eccleshall, Stafford, ST21 6AU
  • Telford: 2nd & 5th February, 10:00 - 16:00, Morrisons, Spring Hill, Wellington, Telford, TF1 1RP
  • Stafford: 6th-7th February, 10:00 - 16:00, Market Square, Stafford, ST16 2BD        
  • Bridgnorth: 6th-7th February, 10:00 - 16:00, Castle Hall meeting room, W Castle St, Bridgnorth, WV16 4AB
  • Uttoxeter: 8th-9th February, 10:00 - 16:00, Uttoxeter Heath Community Centre car park, Holly Rd, Uttoxeter, ST14 7DP
  • Bromsgrove: 8th February, 10:00 - 16:00, Bromsgrove Garden Centre, Little Heath Ln, Lickey End, Bromsgrove, B60 1HY
  • Redditch: 9th February, 10:00 - 16:00, Studley Garden Centre, Henley Rd, Studley, B80 7DR
  • Burton Upon Trent: 12th-13th February, 10:00 - 16:00, Planters Bretby, Bretby Ln, Burton-on-Trent, DE15 0QS
  • Droitwich Spa: 12th-13th February, 10:00 - 16:00, Droitwich Spa Library, Victoria Square, Droitwich, WR9 8DQ
  • Lichfield: 14th-15th February, 09:00 - 15:00, Market Square, Lichfield City Centre, Lichfield, WS13 6LX
  • Hereford: 14th-15th February, 10:00 - 16:00, The High Town, Hereford, HR1 2AA
  • Cannock: 16th & 19th February, 10:00 - 16:00, Morrisons Cannock, Mill St, Cannock, WS11 0DR
  • Great Malvern: 16th & 19th February, 10:00 - 16:00, Morrisons, Malvern Shopping Park, Roman Way, Malvern, WR14 1PZ
  • Walsall: 20th-21st February, 10:00 - 16:00, Morrisons, Wallows Lane, Walsall, WS2 9BZ
  • Evesham: 20th-21st February, 10:00 -16:00, Morrisons, Davies Rd, Evesham, WR11 1DX
  • West Bromwich: 22nd February, 10:00 -16:00, Central Library, 316 High St, West Bromwich, B70 8DZ
  • Royal Sutton Coldfield: 23rd February, 09:00 - 15:00, The Parade, Lower Parade (near Natwest), Sutton Coldfield, B72 1XX
  • Stratford–upon-Avon: 22nd-23rd February, 10:00 - 16:00, Waterside (opposite Carluccio's), Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6BA
  • Tamworth: 26th-27th February, 10:00 - 16:00, Planters, Tamworth Woodlands Farm, Trinity Rd, Tamworth, B78 2EY
  • Warwick: 26th-27th February, 10:00 - 16:00, Warwick Library, Shire Hall, Warwick CV34 4RL
  • Nuneaton: 28th-29th February, 10:00 - 16:00, Dobbies Garden Centre, Cross Lane Farm, Nuneaton Rd, Atherstone, CV9 1RF
  • Rugby: 28th-29th February, 10:00 - 16:00, Dobbies Garden Centre Rugby, Straight Mile, Frankton, Rugby, CV23 9QQ
     
Older man and woman smiling looking at laptopFree webinar: Digital discovery for elderly people: your guide to the online world

From buttons to bytes, get familiar with how to enjoy a digitally connected life in your guide to becoming tech savvy in your senior years or at any age:

Join a FREE webinar on Wednesday 28 February 2024 between 1pm - 2pm GMT.


Register for the webinar
 

I don't live in those areas, how can I get help with the BT Digital Voice switchover?

In addition to the dates above during February 2024, advisors will be visiting regions in the South East in March 2024.

Sessions also took place in Greater London and the East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, Northern Ireland and the North West during 2023, but BT Group advises it will be returning to those regions in the future to provide advice and assistance.  

Find out more about the sessions and get further advice on the BT website.

On 18 December 2023, BT Group, along with the wider telecoms industry, announced it will pause migration for customers who are unsure or who have informed the Group that they have a telecare device which isn’t compatible with a digital landline - their systems will not be switched until those customers are ready.

Boost your digital skills with free sessions

AbilityNet, in partnership with BT Group logo

Digital Voice changes may be encouraging you to develop your digital awareness. If you're over 65 years of age and looking to build your skills, we're offering free digital skills sessions in areas in and around London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff. 

Trainers can build something bespoke for your group or for an individual and run sessions including:

  • Getting to know your Smartphone or Tablet
  • Staying Safer Online
  • Getting started with Email
  • Using Social Media, e.g. Facebook
  • Online entertainment, e.g. watching TV online
  • How to access Public Services e.g. Gov.UK
  • How to make a video call
  • How to manage your health online
  • How to bank online

Attend a free session

 

How to boost your online skills: free learner factsheets

Make the most out of life in a digital world using this range of factsheets and other resources build online skills and confidence.  


Download your factsheets
 


How AbilityNet can help

Save 20% on accessibility and inclusion training for the year ahead

Investing in accessibility and inclusion training isn't just the right thing to do, it's also smart business. Boost employee engagement, attract diverse talent, and unlock the full potential of your team.

Group of 20 people in room looking onscreen in bright and modern learning environmentOur 2024 training bundle offers you a great-value way to learn the latest best practices for creating accessible and inclusive products, services, and experiences.

As we begin a brand new year filled with endless possibilities, now is the perfect time to elevate your commitment to accessibility and disability inclusion goals.

Save more than £200 with our training bundle, which includes 10 courses for the price of 8 - a valuable 20% off booking individual courses.

Our courses cater to everyone, from web developers to HR professionals.

Here are just a few of the courses to choose from - book individually or as part of the bundle:

Q1:

Q2:

Attendees of live training sessions will receive a Certificate of Attendance to add to their professional development training portfolio.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to save money and upskill your team on accessibility and inclusion.

Book your 2024 training bundle today!

Book your training bundle

Get 10 courses for the price of 8

Save on the year ahead by purchasing 10 training courses for the price of 8, with our 2024 bundle deal. 

  • Not for profit discounted 10 tickets for price of 8 bundle (£120 each) is only £960 including VAT (saving £240)
  • For Profit discounted 10 tickets for price of 8 bundle (£165 each) is only £1320 including VAT (saving £330)

You don’t have to book them all right now – you have until the end of 2024 to book all 10. More courses will be announced soon. You can also download a training brochure to browse what’s available and share with your team. 

Book your training bundle

What previous attendees say about the courses

“Another excellent training session from AbilityNet. The training was incredibly informative and has given me a lot of practical knowledge that I now feel confident in applying to my work... The course included so much information and detailed examples, having the recording to refer to will be really useful. I would highly recommend this course for anyone who works with PDF content! [Five stars]”
- Louise Rutledge, Digital Comms Officer at Samaritans

"As a national charity, it’s vital that we reach as many people as possible. AbilityNet’s training courses are clear, modern, understandable, and supports us in reaching our goal of becoming more accessible. It is obvious that AbilityNet is driven by passion and dedication to accessibility – and that is infectious." - Ellie Lundberg, Women’s Aid

So, this new year enjoy AbilityNet's affordable, high-quality range of online courses, bespoke training, and online learning tools to help you build your skills in accessibility and inclusive design.

Want to train a large group of staff? 
Explore AbilityNet's range of live training courses, designed to strengthen your skills in fostering inclusivity and accessibility while also advancing your professional growth.
We offer group training and eLearning options too. Have a chat with our experts for help with your project.

Further resources 

AbilityNet provides a range of free services to help disabled people and older people. If you can afford it, please donate to help us support older and disabled people through technology

Busting 6 myths about employing disabled people

Nearly everyone will experience a temporary or permanant disability in their life. In fact, according to the Office for National Statistics, 3.24 million people identify as being disabled within UK workplaces (ONS, 2018). 

Even though more companies are starting to include disabled people in their workforce, there's still a big challenge in overcoming stereotypes and unfair judgments. This makes it difficult for disabled individuals to get hired.

Our Workplace and education inclusion consultants, Adam Tweed and Lizi Green, bust six myths they have come across about employing disabled people. These are the sorts of fears they address within workplaces through AbilityNet's employee journey training, and lived experience sessions. 

Myth one: Disabled employees can't meet performance targets.

Adam: This is a notion that we often encounter. But let's consider the facts. Contrary to common belief, most disabled employees not only meet, but often surpass expectations. A survey by BMO to the Bank of Montreal revealed that 77% of employers who hired a person with a disability reported that the employee met or exceeded performance targets and expectations.

Myth two: Making accommodations for disabled people is costly.

Lizi: In reality, most accommodations have minimal associated costs. According to Deloitte, 57% of employees with disabilities don't require any additional accommodation, and for those who do, the average cost, according to recent research carried out by the Business Disability Forum, is estimated to only be about £75.

Myth three: disabled people will be absent more frequently than non disabled people.

Adam: Not true! Disabled individuals are no more likely to be absent from work than their non disabled counterparts. The comprehensive study by DuPont found that 85% of employees with disabilities had average or above average attendance rates. 

Myth four: Disabled employees are more likely to quit unexpectedly.

Lizi: Disabled employees tend to actually be far more likely to stay with the company. So again, Deloitte's research indicates that staff retention is 72% higher amongst disabled employees. However, it is worth highlighting that this may unfortunately reflect the disproportionate barriers facing a disabled employee in terms of their opportunities to move, role or progress in their career. But the fact still remains they are less likely to quit unexpectedly. 

Myth five: A disabled person couldn't do this job.

Adam: So this belief often stems from the constraints of our imagination and the assumptions that there is only one way of performing a task. So the onus is really on us to challenge our assumptions or remain open to being challenged. It's crucial to recognise that disabled individuals are no more likely to apply for positions that are beyond their capabilities than again, their non disabled counterparts. Ask yourself why would a disabled person apply for a job that they knew they would be unable to do? What would be the point? Then be open to finding out how they might show you how they carry out a task. The chances are you'll find that there are many ways of doing things, and you'll often also discover that yours may not be the most efficient or the most effective way. 

Myth six: But we've never employed disabled people.

Lizi: Well, this is very unlikely to actually be true. Over 70% of disabilities are non-apparent or non-visible and many individuals with disabilities have faced prejudice and discrimination and therefore they might not be comfortable sharing this information and many may simply choose not to at all. All these people have managed their conditions or their impairments with no impact on their ability to do their job. More than one in seven people identify as neurodivergent, and most of these would not identify as disabled. And each year one in four people experienced significant mental health conditions. So the likelihood is that you have employed individuals with disabilities and you did so, or you still do so without even knowing.

So in conclusion, let's challenge these misconceptions and foster inclusive and diverse workplaces. By doing so, we not only dispel myths and challenge stereotype thinking, but we also unlock the full potential of a diverse workforce. 

By providing training, support, and resources, we want to help address the disability employment gap and support workplaces to become more accessible and inclusive for all. Learn more about our workplace services or make an enquiry to find out how we can help make your workplace inclusive and accessible to all. 

Is your current ways of working inclusive? 

Our expert workplace consultants can help you to gauge your organisation’s current cultural state and work with you to prioritise which improvements will have the greatest immediate impact which will form the roadmap for your ongoing disability inclusion journey. 

With our Disability Inclusion Gap Analysis, we can help you look at your stages of the inclusion journey: Recruitment, Onboarding, Ways of Working, Career Development and Customer Facing. You can choose to focus on the individual stages that are most relevant to you or combine them all. Get started on your journey today by booking a free 15-minute consultation. 


AbilityNet provides a range of free services to help disabled people and older people. If you can afford it, please donate to help us support older and disabled people through technology

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