As the world of business becomes ever more reliant on technology, more and more companies are setting up an online presence to complement their physical operations.
With increased competition, businesses need to stand out by having websites that are both eye-catching and simple to navigate. However, firms also need to remember their obligations under the Equality Act, especially in terms of making sure that their sites can be accessed by disabled customers.
This point was recently highlighted by a review of five of the most popular price comparison sites by the charity AbilityNet. Four of the sites did not comply with the terms of the Equality Act, and the other only met some of its requirements.
Although the Act does not specifically mention services provided online, the consensus has always been that it applies as much to these services as it does to conventional bricks and mortar operations.
The introduction of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s code under the Equality Act last year made this even clearer by explicitly stating that websites are included with regards to the provision of services.
Consequently, businesses will need to ensure they make the necessary adjustments so that their websites can be accessed by disabled individuals.
“The law is clear on this issue,” said Robin Christopherson of AbilityNet. “It is just as illegal to bar disabled visitors from accessing your goods and services online as it would be to keep them out of your shop in the ‘real world’.
“Whilst no company would do this knowingly, as this report shows there are plenty of high profile sites that are contravening the Equality Act (2010) by not considering their disabled customers.”
For more information on this topic, or any issues relating to the Equality Act or discrimination, please contact Karl Barnes or Lara Murray.