What Web Accessibility Could Mean For Your Brand
Over the years, the internet has increasingly become a crucial to the way we operate on a day-to-day basis. Access to the internet allows you to keep up with the latest news headlines, connect with family, friends and colleagues over social media, research important information, do your banking, apply for jobs, book hotels and flights, get food delivered, shop with your favourite retailers, attend Zoom meetings and more. And in this current era of lockdowns around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, no one can be in doubt that the internet has played a significant role in helping us to stay connected in this time.
However, there are still many among us that have been unable to be as connected as the rest. According to the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions survey from 2016, this is because there are approximately 100 million people living with disabilities that prevent them from accessing even the most basic of digital services that most of us now take for granted. And this is where TTS and the EU’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) come into play.
WCAG 2.2, the current version of the EU guidelines, offers recommendations for people with issues that include visual, cognitive, neurological, physical, learning, photosensitive, hearing, speech and language disabilities. It also includes guidelines to make online content more usable for older people whose abilities are ever-changing due to ageing, because although digital tech is an everyday part of modern society and a no-brainer for millennials and younger generations, digital illiteracy is still quite high among the older population. For these users, online services and digital devices are not as intuitive to use.
By adding TTS under the WCAG 2.2 recommendations, public bodies and companies can ensure that they bridge the digital divide and cater to the needs of all their users. And although the guidelines won’t be able to address every individual need, they do address web accessibility of desktop and laptop computers, as well as tablets and smartphones to make the internet more usable to everyone in general.
Since September last year, all public sector bodies within the EU have had to apply WCAG 2.2 to their web content — their mobile apps have been given more time until June 2021 to meet the guideline’s requirements. The directive also applies to older public sector websites.
Web Accessibility and You
Outside of the public sector, TTS applications have also been applied to create web accessibility for private industries including:
Banking and Finance
TTS transforms the banking experience by providing multifunctional service points for customers, such as ATMs that allow for withdrawing cash, making deposits and checking balances with step-by-step audio at speech-enabled machines, for example, and customised voice messaging to your mobile device for keeping abreast of stock market news.
Broadcast and Media
TTS gives the option to reach the maximum audience when broadcasting critical information like emergency and public safety announcements, such as the recent government coronavirus alerts. Smart TVs also enable screen-reading capabilities that allow for your TV to read aloud news reports, weather notifications and more.
TTS provides an easy way to learn for everyone, not just people with disabilities. For example, mobile and e-learning TTS allows for connection outside of the classroom, language TTS can be customised according to the learner’s needs, and ‘edutainment’ combines learning and entertainment with TTS games, shows and radio soap operas designed to make learning more fun. Talking avatars that use TTS can take the form of digital assistants for people in need, while smart toys and robots can enable children to interact at multiple levels with what they are learning.
TTS allows you to save TV shows and other content to listen to later, and also works on gaming consoles to give visually impaired gamers the option of sending and receiving messages to interact with their friends and gaming community, for example.
TTS provides increased accuracy for people who find it difficult to read by giving them the option of using speech-enabled prescription labels, for instance.
TTS enables passengers with disabilities to receive all the essential information they need to safely reach their destination with real-time announcements of service delays, departures, arrivals and more at stations and airports, and onboard buses, trains and planes.
TTS delivers the most engaging customer service experience that is faster, more personalised and allows businesses to automate a higher percentage of calls all without human interaction.
But where web accessibility could play a big role for you is with social media, which has become one of the most important communication channels for individual users, private businesses, corporations and governments. However, not everyone has access to social media, while some people even choose not to engage in this way. Therefore, having a way to publish your important content in a channel that is open and accessible to all and where you have full control over that accessibility could be something your business needs.
In addition, the latest marketing trends in social media, also known as viral campaigns, are a new technique for boosting your brand’s presence. By adding a TTS channel to your viral campaign, you will have a powerful marketing tool at the click of a button that your consumers will definitely remember.
The thing is, your website doesn’t necessarily need to be TTS adaptive, because your tech-savvy users will already have their devices set to speak aloud to suit their individual needs. If it’s not TTS software installed on their device, it could be a free Apple or Android app, or a web browser extension they’ve embedded on their desktop. But if you do choose to add TTS to your website, you must ensure that your content is coded properly by your web developers so that all of the functionality works as its meant to.
And because your website is likely your most important tool for marketing your services to your clients and potential customers in this evolving digital era, then it’s probably a given that you’ll want your content to be inclusive for everyone. Beyond the legality of WCAG 2.2, embedding TTS into your site can be of benefit to anyone who accesses it — whether they’ve got a disability or not.
Here at Voice Intuitive, we promise to enhance your website visitor’s experience via our variety of TTS services, which will improve your digital accessibility for users and provide natural voice options to support your needs.