Spare a thought for those who can't order online this Christmas

18th December 2013

Have you been doing lots of shopping online as an estimated three-quarters of the country appears to have been? If so, spare a thought for those who have a disability which presents them with extra problems.

AbilityNet, a charity which helps disabled people use digital technology, asked some of its testers with a range of conditions from blindness and low vision to learning difficulties to shop for Christmas dinner essentials online using websites and apps from the five top online food retailers.

In their survey published a few days ago they found that just one of the five’s websites met the minimum access conditions. Some testers tried for an hour to buy a turkey, Christmas pudding and a box of crackers, while others couldn’t make a purchase at all. Apps fared little better with two out of the five reaching the criteria. Repeated across the UK that’s adding an extra layer of frustration to the already hectic crush of things to do and buy.

Our own evidence shows that of those who have never been online, 53 per cent are disabled. And with AbilityNet’s research showing those that do use such technology are constantly thwarted by inadequate websites and apps, then it’s little wonder so many disabled people want or need to keep paper communications from major organisations – and how unfair that they should then be made to pay for it!

So many organisations agree with us – since our campaign was launched in the summer, we have nearly 40 supporters and partners signed up, as well as having had the debate aired in the House of Lords, and many discussions with politicians in all the devolved nations as well as the Commons.

We’ll be looking at our next steps in 2014 and hope to make even more progress towards finally securing that choice that we believe all consumers should have.

This will be my final blog of the year – this time next week, I, and hopefully you, will have enjoyed some turkey (if you managed to buy it!) and will be pondering on the joys of Christmas. So many people will receive tablets, smartphones and other internet-accessible gadgets as gifts, I hope they spare a thought for those who cannot or don’t want to be online, and raise a toast to Keep Me Posted for fighting for their rights.

Thank you so much for your continuing support for the campaign. I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

Judith Donovan