Achieving Digital Inclusion – United Utilities’ approach in 2020

The transition into the 2020s marks a time the world will never forget. The physical world came to something of a standstill in 2020 so organisations across the globe made concerted efforts to maximise their online presence to ensure continued support and service to clients. This is what we have done at United Utilities and we take great pride in the efforts we have made to maintain communication and quality of service. 

Studies show that 1 in 5 people have impairments that make accessing online information challenging. Excluding 20% of the population is not something that we are prepared to accept. So, to provide the best possible accessible online experience, we have included an additional layer of inclusive software to our website. Using accessibility and language technology solutions from Recite Me, we have helped over 100,000 people to read and understand the content on our website barrier-free. 

We are really pleased that the Recite Me toolbar has been launched on our site 367,411 times in 2020. This unique assistive toolbar helps everyone to customise their online experience to suit their own individual needs. Our data shows that 552,059 pieces of content were read aloud using the text-to-speech engine and 20,707 pages were translated into a different language, including Polish, Portuguese and Arabic. Other support tools include styling and reading assistance. 12,326 styling changes were made in total, including alterations to font type, size, and colour, and overall colour contrast between background and foreground. 

COVID-19 has seem more people than ever seek to engage with companies using digital channels. Now more than ever it’s important that all digital services are accessible and supportive for all customers to engage and have a great customer experience. We are incredibly proud to be one of the first organisations in our sector to install innovative assistive technology on our web pages to help all our customers who may have additional needs here in the North West.

We chose to install the Recite Me assistive toolbar to make our website accessible and truly inclusive to all. The internet can be an incredibly intimidating place and anyone who finds it difficult to understand or communicate is at a significant disadvantage. This includes internet users who have decreased vision, struggle with literacy, are autistic, speak and/or read English as a second language, suffer from attention disorders, have a learning difficulty, or are affected by physical disabilities. 

The Recite Me toolbar includes fully customisable styling features, reading aids, and translation tools, meaning our web pages can now be consumed in a way that is personalised and tailor-made to each unique website visitor. This includes the ability to change font size, type, and colour, adjust overall colour contrasts, strip away distracting graphics, download content as an audio file, convert content into over 100 different on-screen languages, or have the page read aloud in a choice of 35 different languages.

We couldn’t be happier with progress so far and are extremely proud to be a digitally inclusive company that values each and every online visitor.