By Joanne Schofield, Co-op Digital, 25th May 2021
So, we’ve been working to improve accessibility across our products and services. We’ve written blog posts that detail how we’re committed to further improving inclusivity and how important content design is in that process.
Co-op has recently been rated as the number 1 supermarket website for accessibility. It’s thanks to a lot of hard work by people who care. But we know that there’s still a way to go.
Nobody intentionally ignores accessibility problems but they do sometimes lack awareness. The more we talk about it, and keep talking about it, the more we’ll all learn. And the more inclusive Co-op’s products and services will be.
Often, when we think of accessibility, there’s a tendency to think about colour contrast, screen readers and type faces. When we equate accessibility to a certain piece of code, or checking a service works with assistive technology it makes it easy to assign a certain person or discipline to be responsible for it. And for others to think it’s someone else’s responsibility.
Although these accessibility considerations are important, our responsibilities fall more widely. Designing for accessibility and inclusivity should be at the centre of all we do, and the responsibility of every member of our service teams.
We’re a co-operative and different to other organisations. We’re founded on values of equality, equity and self-help. We strive to make products, services and websites that are open to all. We design so that no one feels different. This includes people who:
have a condition or disability
have English as a second language
have low literacy
are in crisis
do not use the internet much
have a poor internet connection
are stressed or have competing priorities
We’ve been doing a lot of work to make sure conversations about accessibility and inclusivity are ongoing and prominent. Thank you to our ex-Design Ops Manager, Dave Cunningham who has been instrumental to this work. Recently we’ve:
created our accessibility policy – standards we hold ourselves to account at all stages of product and service development
defined our interpretation of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and how to hold Co-op to account for these in our digital accessibility standards
formed accessibility working groups to regularly assess and critique our products and services
set up an Accessibility Champion network for colleagues around the business to learn more about accessibility and encourage others to do the same
embedded accessibility and inclusivity objectives across the digital product and design team
been using Fable to regularly research our products and services with disabled people
held a 3 day inclusion and accessibility Co-op takeover for the a11y Mcr event – see what happened at our inclusion and accessibility talks
been creating guidance, tools and resources on accessibility as part of the new Experience Library (an update to our existing accessibility guidelines)
been trying out different ways to make accessibility more relatable to people
Digital products and services are becoming increasingly essential. They’re how we work, socialise, and use services. Never have we been more reliant on them than during the pandemic. By making our services accessible we open them up so more people can use them. Accessibility is increasingly becoming a focus for businesses who want to succeed.
But we know it’s not just about business, it’s about people. Building accessible services, benefit everyone that uses them. By continuing these conversations and being thoughtful about peoples’ circumstances, we remove barriers for as many people as possible. We create services that are easier to use for everyone.
To be kept up to date on our new Experience Library, including the work we’re doing to help everyone at Co-op create more accessible content, sign up to our Experience Library mailing list.
Co-op Digital are a valued member of Greater Manchester’s digital eco-system, working out of Manchester city centre and part of The Co-Operative Group, whose roots can be traced back to Rochdale in 1844.