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The importance of being accessible online

During these challenging and uncertain times, it has never been more important to be accessible online.

Virgin Media report that daily internet usage has roughly doubled in the UK. This has forced everyone to complete everyday tasks online including managing our energy accounts and bills.

One question that should be asked is… What if accessing and navigating your account online was something you found challenging?

In 2018, Energy UK launched the Commission for Customers in Vulnerable Circumstances, to explore how the UK energy industry can meet the needs of customers in vulnerable circumstances, including people with disabilities.

The Commission for Customers in Vulnerable Circumstances Report 2019 suggests a mixed picture and states there is a need for urgent improvement across the utility sector.

The report recommends that customers in vulnerable circumstances must be provided with a range of communication channels so that they can engage with their supplier in a way that best meets their needs.

One commutation channel which is used by most is, company websites. To support over 13.3 million people in the UK with disabilities online, some energy companies provide assistive technology.

Recite Me, which can be found on the British Gas Energy Trust (BGET) website for example, is a web accessibility and language software that helps customers in vulnerable circumstances, such as those with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, and people who speak English as a second language.

Recite Me lets everyone access the BGET website in a way that suits them best through a unique combination of features, like a text-to-speech option, reading aids, the ability to change the text colour, background colour and font options and a translation tool, with over 100 languages including 35 text to speech voices and many other features.

Recite Me Founder and CEO Ross Linnett commented, “The technology facilitating consumer engagement is changing and moving online more and more. As a result, customers in vulnerable circumstances need to be supported. In fact, the number of unique users using our support tools has increased by 41% this month to over 180,000 people. “

Companies like the British Gas Energy Trust and Auriga Services are committed to lead on inclusion and inspire industry-wide change to provide barrier-free online support to as many people as possible.