Retailers should take steps to avoid black marks for accessibility on Black Friday - Linzi Penman
With the increased popularity of online shopping, it is important to check if your online presence is as accessible as your physical premises to maximise sales and customer satisfaction, as well as to ensure legal compliance.
As a retailer, you may be wondering: What should be done to ensure your user journey is accessible, legally compliant and aligned to your company values? And how does this interact with other regulatory requirements, like data protection?
“Good” accessibility is difficult to define, as this differs from person to person and disability to disability. Also, the legal obligations on the private sector differ slightly from the public sector. Those in the public sector have recently been subject to online compliance regulations, following 2018 legislation requiring all public sector websites and mobile apps (with some exceptions) to meet specified accessibility standards by June 2021. Whilst no deadline has been imposed on the private sector, the same principles apply and are a useful indicator for all businesses which must comply with the Equality Act 2010.
There are steps retailers can take. As a start,
There is always a tricky balance between providing enough comprehensive information to satisfy legal requirements and having a “sleek” user journey with as few words as possible. The Information Commissioner’s Office, responsible for upholding information rights and data privacy in the UK, has issued guidance to help companies navigate these competing requirements. The ICO suggests a layered approach, providing users with a short initial message containing all key information, and linking the user to a ‘second layer’ containing a more detailed description.
Even with the strong financial business case for addressing accessibility gaps in user journeys, retailers should be aware this is not only a commercial point, but a legal one – the Royal National Institute of Blind People has launched a toolkit on how to hold website owners to account and are active in bringing cases against non-compliant websites. The UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission can also use its legal powers against offending organisations.
So if you haven’t already, now is the time to start considering accessibility when planning your user journey for websites and apps.
Linzi Penman is a Senior Associate, DLA Piper.
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