Leading price comparison websites are ignoring their legal obligations to make their sites accessible to disabled people, according to a new report.
The disability charity AbilityNet, which analysed the accessibility of five sites for its report, said disabled people should be a significant market for any retail website, because they “often have less cash and less opportunity to shop around the physical high street”.
The charity tested the accessibility of Compare the Market, Go Compare, mySupermarket, Kelkoo and Confused.com.
Not one of the five achieved the three-star rating that indicates a basic level of accessibility for disabled people.
It found four of them – with one star each – were potentially breaching the Equality Act, while Kelkoo – the only site to gain two stars – only satisfied some legal accessibility requirements.
One blind user of screen-reading software who tested the mySupermarket site said they would rather “starve” than use it to buy groceries.
Robin Christopherson, AbilityNet’s head of digital inclusion, said: “Like everyone else in these hard times, the country’s 12 million disabled people want to get the best deal when they’re shopping, whether that’s for insurance, groceries or anything else.
“But these cash-strapped shoppers are losing out due to badly-designed web pages that prevent them from shopping around and accessing the online bargains they need to make ends meet.”
He added: “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’.”
A Compare the Market spokeswoman said: “We are always looking at ways to improve what we do and we have taken AbilityNet’s report very seriously.
“We are reviewing the report and looking at their findings and after that process has concluded we will see what changes we can make.”
Chris Simpson, chief marketing officer for Kelkoo, said his company would “look carefully at the findings of this research and, where possible, review our practices to improve this experience for disabled people”.
He said: “We are certainly open to further talks with AbilityNet to understand more about the study and how we can improve our score going forward.”
A Gocompare.com spokeswoman said: “We’re keen that Gocompare.com should be easily accessible to as many users as possible.
“We welcome this report and will be looking carefully at the findings to see where improvements can be made.”
No-one from Confused.com was able to comment, and mySupermarket did not reply to requests for a response to the report.
19 April 2012