Why we need to keep talking about accessibility

By Joanne Schofield, Co-op Digital, 25th May 2021

Image of a table with many devices on the table, ;aptops, phones along with other items A few hands are visible in the shot using the devices

We want as many people as possible to be able to use Co-op products and services. Aside from it being good business sense, we know that being inclusive with our design is the right thing to do.

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 want Co-op to be open to all

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

What we’ve been doing

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:

Now more than ever

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.

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