Are blind people allowed to donate to your charity?

Sounds like a daft question, doesn’t it? The plain fact is, though, that most of the top charities in the UK we checked, have donation forms that people using screenreaders just can’t complete. Others make it impossible for people who can’t use a mouse.

Sometimes it’s down to the payment system, which may be outsourced, sometimes to the site’s own forms, sometimes both.

88% of charities with inaccessible donation forms

Last year, just ahead of Christmas, we did extensive research into over 30 of UK’s best known charities and found one, yes just one, that was fully accessible. Others were nearly accessible and could probably be completed by intermediate or expert screenreader users. The rest, 88% had serious accessibility issues.

We intended then to launch a campaign to help improve this situation, but got busy and ran out of time. We did email the charities with the worst forms to alert them to the problem, but got no response.

This year, we checked the same sites again, the situation has improved, but not by much. There are still almost 75% of donation forms that seriously challenge disabled people, only 12% of the forms this year are fully accessible.

That translates to a lot of people who can’t get through with there donations. Not a great state to be in, with Giving Tuesday coming up, followed by Christmas of course.

What to do

If you already have an arrangement with accessibility specialists, get them to check your website, or take advantage of our free offer. If you don’t have a relationship with any accessibility folk, just Google for one you like the sound of, or ditto about our offer. There’s still time to get the problems analysed and fixed before the two big donation events.

What’s the offer?

We’ll check the main donation form on your site, free of charge. We’ll then send you a report, itemising any accessibility issues found, again free of charge.

What’s the catch? Well, there really isn’t one, we’d like you to return the favour, by allowing us to mention on our website that we’ve assisted you. But that’s not a condition, in fact we won’t even ask until we send your report. We’d also like to help you improve the accessibility of the rest of your site, but again, it’s up to you.

Of course, there are limits to the offer, there isn’t time to do this for every charity in the UK, so it must be first come, first served. The offer closes 30 November. The deadline is just practical, it’s unlikely that a later report would give your web team enough time to consider and put our recommendations in place before Christmas.

To take up the offer, or ask any questions, please email: Please put “Charity offer” as the subject, so we don’t miss it.

How big is the problem?

Heard the one about the piece of string?

RNIB says there are 2 million people in the UK with sight loss. Not all of these will use screenreaders, but many thousands do, and many more thousands use screen magnifiers.

People with Dyslexia or learning disabilities are said to make up a huge percentage of the population, some stats put it as high as 20%. Some of these people will need to have text read to them through a screenreader. Reading would just take too long otherwise.

People who can’t use a mouse could make up an even higher proportion of UK citizens. Just consider the variables:

  • Everyone who has a broken primary hand or arm;
  • A lot of people with RSI;
  • Older people suffering from tremours;
  • Other older people, and those not so old with rheumatism or arthritis;
  • People with Parkinson’s Disease;
  • Those with serious upper limb disabilities, such as paralysis.

Many of the above conditions are painful or distressing. Any unnecessary keystrokes in the journey to make the donation are discouraging.

Talking of discouragement, I’ve been asked, “Why do disabled people give up as soon as it gets difficult?” Gob-smacked emoticon! If that’s a question you’ve asked, try this one on for size. Why should they, when your organisation would benefit, not them? It’s a bit like asking for a loan, then tripping up the lender before they reach you.

Wishing you a prosperous giving season.