Shaw Trust

When it comes to being accessible for people with all sorts of different needs, water firm United Utilities’ website takes some beating.

The company, which serves seven million people across the North West of England, is the first water firm in the UK to be awarded an Accessibility Accreditation by the Shaw Trust, a leading UK charity.

Shaw Trust Accessibility Accreditation is only held by a handful of websites and United Utilities is currently the only UK water company to hold it. It follows rigorous testing by people with disabilities and technical auditing.

Customer digital manager Denise Maskew said: “I am so happy that our website is accessible to so many people. It’s important for our customers. Hopefully other businesses will follow our lead.”

United Utilities’ journey to accessibility has taken its digital team some time to achieve, involving more than 60 hours of testing on every feature – from the relatability of links, to downloadable documents, alt-tagging of images and subtitling of videos.

The site is also easier to use for people with some people with physical impairments, as it is operable without the need for a mouse by using the keyboard tab function.

Throughout the year, United Utilities’ managers have worked with website providers to alter the underlying code, train content providers and even work with third party partners with whom the site links, to encourage the best possible accessibility.

The site also features ReciteMe a tool that allows users to adapt tools to their needs, including instant language translation and audio description, among others.

Added Denise: “Our services are used by seven million people in the North West. It’s absolutely the right thing to do and we hope others will follow our lead.

“At the moment only relatively few websites have achieved Shaw Trust Accessibility Accreditation. We’ll now be reviewed every month and will be working hard to maintain the high level of accessibility we have achieved.”