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Government responds to WEC calls for accessible product design by default

29 May 2024

The Government “recognises the importance of digital inclusion to accessibility and remains committed to ensuring no one is left behind in a digital age” it has said in its response to the Women and Equalities Committee’s (WEC) second report on the National Disability Strategy (NDS).

Published in March 2024, the Committee’s report entitled ‘Accessibility of products and services to disabled people’ cautioned that many private sector websites continue to “fall short” of what is required to make them accessible to disabled consumers at a time when online services, information and social networks are increasing.

WEC said businesses must consider the needs of disabled consumers from the outset when designing their products and services and not treat accessibility as an “afterthought”. The cross-party committee of MPs called on companies to adopt inclusive design by default for products and services or risk restricting disabled consumers’ options and missing out on the spending power of disabled households.

WEC’s report also warned the introduction of flat bank cards and the phasing out of embossed cards is leaving some disabled people, particularly those who are blind or partially sighted struggling to conduct financial tasks independently. While some banks and financial providers have issued debit and credit cards with tactile indicators, this is not standard practice across the banking sector.

In its response to the second of three WEC reports based on its findings during an inquiry into the National Disability Strategy the Government said: “The Government recognises the importance of ensuring that banking and payments services are accessible for those who are blind and partially sighted. The Equality Act 2010 requires all relevant parties, including financial services providers, merchants and card machine operators, to make reasonable adjustments in the way they deliver their services to support those with visual impairments.”  

On accessible food packaging, the Government added: “We know there are exciting possibilities to improve the accessibility of food packaging’s essential information, including the use of mobile device apps and QR codes via which consumers with visual impairments may be able to access not only the basics, but the full range of information available on the label.”

Further information

Image: House of Commons