We caught up with Ronise, our Senior Accessibility Specialist, about why web accessibility is important to BT.

Tell us what you do within the Digital team

I joined in May 2020 to improve the accessibility of our websites and apps for our three brands: BT, EE and Plusnet. I’ve had a really varied career path, coming to web accessibility from having worked in electronics and environmental journalism. Web accessibility fell into a converging point between these two different subjects. I tend to say that while environmental journalism was my love at first sight, web accessibility grew into something I love. It is an area that challenges the status quo all the time while positively impacting the organisation, its employees, and customers.

What does accessibility mean to you?

Accessibility means welcoming all our customers regardless of any differences. It’s about removing barriers and enabling everyone to participate in the Digital Economy, no matter what abilities they have, how much digital knowledge or type of equipment they already have. By applying digital accessibility techniques, we keep all our customers in touch with technological changes, regardless of any other changes they might be going through in their lives. 

It’s not enough to provide a faster and more affordable connection; there are several other aspects we need to consider. These include making sure that our customers can perceive our content in whatever way works for them. That could be by hearing it through a screen reader or feeling through a tactile print. It could also be by providing captions and subtitles to all our video content. Customers should be able to zoom in and zoom out our pages or change the colour and contrast of their screens without jeopardising the quality of their online experience..

Are there other aspects of accessibility we should be thinking about?

Absolutely. Accessibility is about the quality of our design, text and code. It allows us to produce content that is easier for all our customers to understand, assimilate and engage with, no matter how hurried they are. When we adopt best practice, follow guidelines correctly and put all our customers at the heart of everything we do, we end up with sleeker solutions that are also more efficient, lighter, easier to maintain and upgrade. Pages and apps that are accessible take less effort, download faster and consume less energy. They are also good for the environment.

Why is accessibility so important today and whose responsibility should it be?

Accessibility is essential to any business, and it is at the core of the web. After all, the web was invented to open up the Internet to everyone. No customer should be prevented from having access to any services, especially essential services such as communication and technology. Access to the web is a right protected by the legislation of several countries, including the UK, USA, India and many more.

It is everyone's responsibility to apply accessibility to everything we do, from writing an email or sharing images on social media to developing state of the art websites and apps. 

What can we all do to improve BT's web content accessibility?

We must prioritise accessibility at the same level as security and bake it into everything we do. It should always be a requirement for done and not an after-thought. We still have a long way to go, but in the past 12 months, we have invested considerable effort into training our colleagues in Digital. We are also increasingly making sure that web accessibility is part of every job specification while supporting all our existing and prospective colleagues with acquiring the skills and knowledge they need. Finally, our third-party suppliers are receiving clear communication that accessibility is an essential requirement for everything we obtain from them. 

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