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Digital Accessibility for Retail & Dining: Searching and Shopping Online

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Dining IconCustomers with disabilities encounter many barriers while navigating retail and dining websites. Some of these are minor inconveniences, but others can make navigating a site extremely difficult or even impossible without help.

Today, online shopping has become a preference, rather than a luxury or novelty. Before the internet, people went to local stores and malls, enlisted the help of sales representatives, mailed in forms and personal checks, and ordered items by phone. Now, we have the ability to search for what we want, read customer reviews, purchase, and even process a return, all while saving precious time and money.

That is, unless your website isn’t accessible. Here are some examples:

heather iconHeather is blind. She is searching for new clothes online. She tries the sites she’s heard people talk about, but the alternative text is so general she can barely gather an idea about the clothing pictured. “Blue shirt.” Long sleeves? Short sleeves? Tunic length? Who knows!

gill iconGill has bilateral cochlear implants. But, even with the implants, he struggles to hear some sounds. His brother sends him a link to a product video that he’s sure Gill would like. But Gill can’t sufficiently hear the video and there is no closed captioning. He’s definitely not sold on buying the product.

bert iconBert’s great granddaughter’s birthday is approaching. She wants a present from a specialty store online. Bert, who has severe arthritis, prefers using dictation software rather than struggling with a mouse and keyboard. But the site has poor labeling and when he tries to narrow his search down from 200 items, his speech commands, to his dismay, are not recognized.

An accessibility barrier can impair a customer’s experience while searching for the product. Rather than pushing forward, customers will often abandon your website for a competitor’s more accessible site. When people are still in research mode, they have less patience for an inaccessible site. Here are a few examples of non-compliant aspects of a site:

  • No keyboard navigation. For keyboard only users, this disables any possibility of navigating through the products, narrowing down the search options, and (the crucial step) putting the item in the cart.
  • Lack of visual indication of focus. Without this, it will be challenging or impossible for customers using assistive technologies to navigate your page and pick a product to purchase.
  • Improper ARIA implementation. When ARIA is improperly implemented on a website, it impacts screen readers in a counterproductive way. The outcome? Frustrated customers (and less revenue).
  • No closed captioning in product videos. Platforms like YouTube will generate (inaccurate) captions automatically, but if you have a script for your video, it will take mere moments to create accurate captions.

Want to Learn More?

Download WhitepaperDownload our whitepaper, Making Retail & Dining Websites Accessible to People with Disabilities, for more information and tips for retailers and eateries.

Don’t feel like reading a whitepaper? We understand. Access the resources from our free, on-demand webinar, Less Risk, More Revenue: Accessibility For Retail and Dining Websites.

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