Websites for the disabled

I was delighted to see your report on the launch of Tesco Access (e-volve May 31), but sad that we are unlikely to see many companies follow its lead unless forced to do so by law.

The frustrating thing is that the technology to enable blind and partially sighted people to use a website is not particularly sophisticated and has been available for a long time. Yet companies have been surprisingly reluctant to make use of it. This has been disappointing both from a moral point of view but also commercially – online shopping is much more convenient for blind people than a trip to the shops and so has huge potential if only sites were more user-friendly.

Unfortunately, building accessibility into an active site after launch is fraught with logistical and customer service issues, as Tesco found to its cost. Its solution has been a parallel site aimed solely at the blind. However, in the current gloomy dot-com climate, I doubt that we will see many other companies prepared to make that sort of investment in e-commerce, in spite of the strong commercial arguments.

Perhaps the RNIB should develop its own shopping portal rather than wait for other companies to follow Tesco’s lead.

Bernard Guly

Managing director


London W3

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