Online & Digital

Disabled customers ‘shut out’ from online shopping

Disabled people are being “shut out” from digital world by inaccessible websites and apps, claims disability charity Scope

The charity said that those with disabilities were being “penalised for being disabled”.

Businesses are also missing out on “billions of pounds” from potential customers through the use of inaccessible platforms, it claims. 

In a survey launched as part of the Big Hack campaign, the charity revealed that disabled people felt “frustrated, excluded and helpless” when online shopping, and that half of disabled people have chosen not to buy an item due to inaccessible websites. 

Scope is now urging businesses and retailers to ensure their websites and apps are accessible for the UK’s 14 million disabled people, who have a collective spending power of £274bn a year.

In a survey carried out by Open Inclusion, on behalf of Scope, over 200 disabled people spoke of issues that make online shopping a difficult experience.

Some 47% of respondents had difficulty navigating websites, while 34% reported difficulty with registering online.

Meanwhile, 45% of those surveyed had trouble using CAPTCHA puzzles or other checkout requirements.

The charity said: “The research found issues with inaccessible technology are stopping many disabled customers from making the purchases they want to.”

When asked what they did when such issues were encountered, 50% of respondents said that they did not buy the item.

Meanwhile, 48% found an alternative provider where they could buy the item more easily, while 32% asked someone in their household to complete the purchase for them.

These findings follows research that 98% of websites had “inaccessible homepages”, after WebAIM conducted an accessibility evaluation of the home pages for the top one million websites. 

Kristina Barrick, head of digital influencing at Scope, said: “For disabled people, buying goods and services, socialising, managing health, accessing information and working online has the potential to be truly life-changing, especially when the built environment can be so full of barriers.

“But Scope keeps hearing about how much the digital world is letting people down.”

She added: “Disabled shoppers should be able to take advantage of great Black Friday deals, but many are stopped by badly-designed websites and apps.

“Black Friday is just one shopping day, but businesses can reap much bigger rewards all year round by making sure their websites and apps are accessible. Many are missing out on a multi-billion-pound market simply because they haven’t thought about disabled people.

“Inclusive design benefits everyone. We hope all businesses start to recognise that websites and apps designed for disabled people work better for all customers.”


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