These changes can make all the difference for eShoppers. For example, international eCommerce platform Shopify has an accessibility policy which ensures that its sites are designed using contrasting colors from opposite ends of the color wheel. This makes the objects on their page more likely to stand out for eShoppers who are colorblind.
Ebay is another example of an eCommerce platform that creates an easier experience for eShoppers with disabilities. The site provides each of the its product images with clear labels, making it easy for visually impaired people (who rely on text-to-voice screen reader programs to navigate online) to understand what images are on the page.
People with disabilities face many challenges when they browse the Internet – especially when they try to make eCommerce purchases. However, these issues can be easily solved through the support of Qatar’s Mada assistive technology portal, and by small but significant changes that eMerchants can make on their platforms or apps.
in Qatar* alone
It is important to remember that inclusivity is important as it may also incentivize people who do not have a disability to purchase from one online shop over another.
There are 11,086 people with disabilities in Qatar* alone. While this may seem like a small number, it is important to remember that inclusivity is important as it may also incentivize people who do not have a disability to purchase from one online shop over another when taking its accessibility requirements into account.
Qatar is trying to promote inclusivity of people with disabilities (PWD) through several entities, the most prominent of which is Mada Assistive Technology Centre. Mada is a non-profit organization committed to connecting PWD to the world of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
Mada was founded in 2010 to accommodate the UN Convention on Persons With Disabilities (PWD). It recognizes that technology is pervasive across a breadth of private and public sector activities and inherent in the Ministry of Transport and Communications strategy, and works to improve digital inclusion for PWD in the State of Qatar.
Educating both PWD and various other stakeholders about the ways in which ICT can be used to enhance life.
The inclusion of PWD into mainstream society through harnessing the power of ICT to create employment and nurture entrepreneurship.
Enabling independent living by encouraging the creation of an accessible community for PWD through the power ICT.
Challenges faced by PWD
- Keyboard cannot be used to navigate through website
- Images and videos have inadequate or inaccurate descriptions
- Color scheme does not allow for easy reading
- No search option to find products easily
- Too much information at once, leading to clutter
- Animations cannot be paused or stopped
- Videos do not have captions, making it harder to understand the product/service featured
- Confusing page navigation
- Complicated check-out process
How to support people with
disabilities in eCommerce
- Technology provides many opportunities for eMerchants to engage with new customers who find it challenging to shop physically. Online retailers can:
- Use scalable sizing and positioning of text and visual layout
- Establish information and relationship between content and structure
- Provide meaningful images and graphics with ALT text descriptions
- Create a website that can be operated with a keyboard for people who cannot use a mouse
- Provide a caption or link to text transcript for all audio content
- Focus on all content being visible and uninterrupted, and ensure that the website operates in a predictable way
- Connect with Mada to incorporate web accessibility features to facilitate access to people with disabilities
- Discuss with Mada the possibility of usability testing with people with disabilities
- Incorporate suggestions to make a website accessible based on Mada’s recommendations
- Use clear and simple language
- Use descriptive link phrases that describe link destinations
- Use maximum color contrast between foreground and background content
- Make sure content and user interfaces are in a logical sequence
Online merchants who can make small changes will become accessible to a wider audience and will also offer support more members of society. Those small changes will be very meaningful to and appreciated by members of the PWD community, leading to more sales and a positive brand profile.
*Qatar’s PWD Statistics:
Qatar’s centers, institutes and societies serve 11,086 registered persons, including 5,575 Qataris, (50.3% of all disabled persons) and 5,511 non-Qataris (49.7%). The number of Qatari and non-Qatari males in this group was 6,294 (63.1% of all persons with disabilities registered in the relevant centers), compared to 3,648 disabled women (36.9% of the total).