Inclusive communication is key to any purchase for people with and without disability. Whether in written formats, online, or in person, communication is a critical part of the purchasing process. Service based businesses such as tourist attractions, restaurants and banks are difficult to access based on a survey by Business Disability Forum.
“I ended up staying with my current bank because I could not get information in easy read format from any other bank”
Almost half the survey respondents said that booking and/or visiting a restaurant, café or pub posed the most challenges. Booking holiday accommodation was also challenging together with leisure activities. Dealing with banks, insurance providers and utility providers also caused challenges. Buying new technology, software and entertainment media was less problematic for most respondents.
A lot of companies use PDFs, it is not accessible with screen readers… Allow [me to receive] that information in a Word format so I can read it. Avoid columns, rows and text boxes… You would have thought that by now a lot of these companies might have grasped this.
The Business Disability Forum’s research is UK based, but is useful information for all businesses. Community service organisations and governments also need to heed the call for more inclusive communication methods.
The online survey showed there was no clear single preference for means of communication at the decision-making stage. The following quotes from the report need no further explanation.
By email or text. The spoken word is hard for me to understand on the telephone, especially when calling from a call centre.
… you need all of it. Live chat, phone, email. It’s got to be accessible in as many ways as possible and quick to reply otherwise you think “I won’t wait for that product” and they have lost your custom.
For me as a totally blind person, email, phone or face-to-face are my preferred methods of communication. Particularly if face-to-face, I want staff to come and ask if I want help, not be left wandering around. If online, I need pages uncluttered with adverts, products clearly separated, buttons or checkboxes al-texted and graphics clearly labelled.
Interestingly, Amazon online purchasing was identified as having a good communication system. This was because:
- Contact points for queries before and after sales in customers’ preferred format
- Being able to find detailed product information needed
- Setting up the process for delivery
- Quick purchase mechanisms that avoid repeat form filling