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Our top tips on making communications services inclusive and accessible for all consumers

10 November 2021

We believe that communications services are a lifeline, not a luxury - and consumers, citizens and micro-businesses should be able to get the support they need from communications providers without facing any barriers to engagement.

We commissioned Graeme Whippy MBE - a disability and inclusion expert - to write a think-piece on making communications services inclusive and accessible, which can be used as a reference tool for communications providers to help:
  • Explain the challenges that exist for disabled people and older people in relation to communication services, or those with other access or service needs.
  • Provide practical advice on improving accessibility and usability, thus helping address the challenges and remove barriers for these customers.
  • Create an excellent customer experience that is good for customers and the communication provider’s business.

We regularly hear from our research participants and stakeholders across the UK that communications services should be inclusive by design to ensure that consumers' individual requirements are considered early-on in policy, product and service development to ensure that services work for all consumers and not those who are more likely to be heard.

“I think when everything’s running fine in terms of communications networks, I’m not as disabled as I might be" 

(John, research participant - We're not all the same!')

Our think-piece highlights 10 actions that communications providers can do now to improve customers’ experiences:

  1. Update the “contact us” page on your website so it contains all your contact methods, including phone, text/video relay and postal address.
  2. Encourage customers to share their service requirements with you from before they become customers and then throughout their time with you.
  3. Ensure you have the means to capture service requirements, focusing on impact and not cause, and integrate them into customer services and processes.
  4. Have a clear and easily found policy on making reasonable adjustments for customers.
  5. Provide all front-line staff with training to raise awareness of the service requirements of disabled and older people and how to accommodate them.
  6. Embed compliance with accessibility standards (digital, documents and premises) into your service development and delivery lifecycle.
  7. Educate all stakeholders on the importance of accessibility and usability and how it is relates to their role.
  8. Conduct research (such as mystery shopping) with disabled and older customers on the accessibility and usability of your services to create a baseline from which you can measure improvements.
  9. Do not buy products or services that create barriers: embed accessibility into your procurement process.
  10. Consider how new technologies and convergence of services could be used to improve inclusion, and how could you collaborate with others in the sector to create lasting change.

We consulted with and received inputs from Ofcom, communications providers and our stakeholders across the UK - the full document can be accessed below. 

The Panel's think-piece on making communications services inclusive and accessible (Word version)

The Panel's think-piece on making communications services inclusive and accessible (PDF version)

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If you have any difficulties accessing content on this page, please email us at contact@communicationsconsumerpanel.org.uk