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Disabled people ‘shut out of online shopping by inaccessible websites and apps’

By Josie Clarke, PA Consumer Correspondent

Disabled people are being shut out of online shopping by inaccessible websites and apps, a survey suggests.

Charity Scope called on retailers to ensure they were not missing out on billions of pounds from would-be customers every year by unwittingly preventing the UK’s 14 million disabled people from using their sites.

A poll for the charity found half of those surveyed had chosen not to buy an item due to difficult-to-use web pages or apps.

The three most common problems experienced by the 200 people polled were navigating the website (47%), difficult Captcha puzzles designed to block potentially harmful bots from websites (45%) and difficulty with registering processes (34%).

It found such problems led to 50% of disabled people choosing not to buy the item, 48% finding an alternative retailer and 32% having to ask someone in the household to complete the purchase for them.

The equality charity is launching the Big Hack, which is urging businesses, the technology industry and the design community to recognise the value of inclusive design and make products accessible.

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.

“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 multibillion-pound market simply because they haven’t thought about disabled people.”