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Online retailers urged to cater to disabled shoppers

17 June 2013 - 11:27 by Simon Crisp

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Although you might assume that it is bricks and mortar retailers which need to be most sensitive to the needs of disabled consumers, a blog for the Independent, written by Nick Booth, has outlined the issues faced by this group when carrying out safe shopping online.

Booth writes that there are a number of legal obligations designed to make it easier for those with impairments to buy products from the web, although many e-commerce companies fail to live up to expectations.

It is the Equality Act of 2010 which ensures many of the rights of disabled consumers in the online space, including the requirement for sites to offer large, legible print for those with sight issues, so that they do not miss out on discounts and offers.

Booth also points out that there are other ways for online retailers to streamline the process of buying through safe shopping online, for those who are less able to see. This includes attaching detailed descriptions to images and using speech synthesisers to read out text and descriptive links, which let users know which actions are being performed.

One of the sites which Booth believes to be doing things right is the BBC, which offers visitors a variety of visual options for how they want the page to be displayed.

Booth argues that it is actually in the interest of e-commerce companies to make their sites more accommodating for disabled consumers, not only because this could lead to increased sales but also because it will make pages more search-engine friendly, which will generate additional traffic.

Campaigners are calling for online retailers to bring their sites in line with requirements that were written into law almost three years ago and, hopefully, this call will be answered with positive action.