Accessibility campaignAs part of our digital accessibility campaign #MakeTheWebAccessible, PFR are partnering up with organisations and bloggers. This time we spoke with Damiano La Rocca, Seable’s CEO.

Making the web accessible is hard work, but what about making the world accessible? Even harder, but the team at Seable doesn’t plan to quit. The London-based company, founded in 2012, offers a long list of accessible holidays and holidays for blind and visually impaired.

Damiano La RoccaBeing such a niche company, Seable was forced to carefully plan their digital strategy. They built their website two years ago, in mid-2014, and focused not only on design, but specially on online accessibility. Seable’s CEO, Damiano La Rocca, points out how important it was to “identify the customers wants, needs and motivations to buy”, later “incorporating them into the various pages, which align to a persona”.

To make sure the website was accessible for people with different types of disabilities and all users of assistive technology…

…Seable focused on five simple things:

1. Making sure people were able to access the website from any device
2. Working towards making the website easy to read and easy to interact with
3. Making sure all ‘the next steps’ and call to actions on the pages are clear and easy to interact with
4. Ensuring the images were ALT tagged for screen readers
5. Having the ability to make the fonts across the website bigger and smaller in an easy and swift way

Digital accessibility is, obviously, important for Seable. According to Damiano La Rocca, who recently wrote about this topic for the Huffington Post, “70% of websites are breaking the law on accessibility”.

“A study in 2005 found 97% of government websites in Europe did not provide a minimum level of accessibility, and even though that’s eons ago in internet time, things haven’t got much better (although all sites are now committed to improving accessibility and it was recently made law that all EU public sites must be accessible). The Business Disability Forum has been checking the accessibility of websites since 2008 and in that time 70% of the sites reviewed were given a ‘red’ assessment – defined as ‘significant potential commercial, PR or legal risk’ – because of their lack of accessibility.”

Damiano’s opinion ties in with a blog we published earlier this year, before the launching of our #MakeTheWebAccessible campaign. Norin Khanna, a visually impaired member of the PfR community, reminded us that tasks like online shopping or filling in an online form can be frustrating experiences for people who use assistive technology. Norin told us back then that only “30 to 40 percent of websites are truly accessible”.

At the other end, the Seable website regularly gets positive reviews from clients. “We agree that a relatively low number of websites are accessible, and many of our clients tell us that it is refreshing to use our site”, says Damiano, who lists other examples of good online accessibility like the Facebook app (with automatic image description) and the Ocado app.

Making all digital tools accessible

Seable is now ready to tackle its next challenge: launch an accessible newsletter. So, what’s the company’s strategy to make sure this new digital product will please their audience? “From a design perspective, we would ensure that emails are generated with legible text size on contrasting colours, such as black text on white background. Keeping it simple is key.”

“From a technical perspective, we have to bear in mind how screen readers read pages – which is typically from left to right. Given that emails are usually built in tables to ensure continuity across devices, it is important for us to consider the structure of an email when it becomes responsive on mobile devices”, he adds.

Also, to make sure the clients easily find all the necessary information before booking their holidays, Seable will provide downloadable brochures about each destination on offer. Screen reader-friendly brochures, of course! Consistency is essential when planning for full accessibility, and no details should be left behind.

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About the author: Maria Santos is the Digital Marketing Manager at People for Research. You can find her on the People for Research’s Facebook or Twitter accounts, regularly engaging with potential participants, market research experts and the UX community.

About People for Research: We recruit participants for UX and usability testing and market research. We work with award winning UX agencies across the UK and partner with a number of end clients who are leading the way with in-house user experience and insight.