Is your website accessible enough for Purple Tuesday?

It never gets the publicity it deserves – but tomorrow, Tuesday November 12th is officially ‘Purple Tuesday’ – a day specifically dedicated to raising awareness of the so-say ‘purple’ pound – i.e. the discretionary spending power of disabled people.

And that’s actually an incredible amount of spend. The UK proportion of ‘purple’ consumer money is worth a very impressive £249 billion, and is rising by an average of 14% per annum. And worldwide, it equates to a staggering £2.25 trillion.

The problem: fewer than 10% of businesses have a targeted plan to access this disability market.

Purple Tuesday, the disability charity behind the campaign, agrees. It’s just published some research to support the 2019 Day that shows that no less than three out of four (75%) disabled people have had to leave a physical store or website because they were unable to finish a purchase due to their disability.

And it would certainly have to include a brand’s online experience, as UK user experience and digital agency Sigma, part of Swedish IT Services firm Sigma IT Consulting, is saying. “The responsibility is on all businesses, whatever their size or sector, to ensure their services are accessible – as nearly one in five people in the UK has a disability or impairment,” states the company’s MD, Hilary Stephenson, in a recent announcement.

“Better accessibility should not be an option, or consideration in hindsight, it should be a central customer experience consideration from the start.”

Sigma claims that some of the most common examples of inaccessible websites and bad UX design practice include:

  • Cluttered layouts, excessive pop-ups, and intrusive adverts
  • Hard to find, and the small print of, returns policy or delivery options
  • Confusing and long-winded terms and conditions
  • Checkout time pressures, time-limited discounts and scarcity
  • Poor colour contrast on important calls to action, links or buttons, resulting in missed content or functionality
  • Videos without audio descriptions or audio without subtitles on product descriptions
  • 360 videos, options to change the product colour, fabric or pattern, and other interactive customisation features that don’t work with assistive technology.

As Stephenson reminds us, “Implementing online accessibility measures like audio descriptions of what is happening on-screen will improve the user experience immensely. Apple’s VoiceOver or Google’s TalkBack software, will help to guide those with visual impairments through the online experience. There are also many ways to improve life for those with motor impairment and hearing issues online too.

No wonder it – and, of course, UKAAF – say brands need to improve their website accessibility, as customer experience for disabled people still lags behind progress made in physical stores. And, as UKAAF has constantly also argued, there’s great potential pay-back if you can get this one right.

“Retailers that make their websites more accessible to disabled consumers, for social and ethical reasons, will also benefit commercially as they enable more people to purchase their products and services,” Sigma’s Stephenson confirms.

“One-day initiatives such as Purple Tuesday are great for driving awareness campaigns, but inclusion has to occur all year round.

“There has to be an effort to apply these practices year-round. We are calling for people to look at the web inclusivity directive and embed inclusion into their processes as standard.”

UKAAF heartily agrees – and welcomes the opportunity Purple Tuesday offers all its members and supporters to flag up tomorrow!


Carina Birt

UKAAF UK Board Member & Public Relations Officer

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