Tech champions to fight for rights of disabled consumers

9th April 2019
Posted By : Alex Lynn
Tech champions to fight for rights of disabled consumers

Two new disability champions from Barclays and Fujitsu have been appointed by the government to ensure technology and online businesses are not forgetting about their disabled customers. Using their industry influence, the new champions will remove the obstacles faced by disabled consumers who struggle to purchase products or services online and are often locked out of benefiting from the latest innovations in technology.

Minister for Disabled People Sarah Newton, said: “For too long technology and online business have been missing out on the spending power of disabled customers and their families, worth a staggering £249bn a year.

“I want tech companies to be a force good, ensuring inclusion is a fundamental component of the design process so that disabled people can benefit from the latest innovations. Our new champions will fight for the rights of disabled consumers so they can spend their money where and when they want, just like everyone else.”

The website accessibility champion is Paul Smyth, Barclays’ Head of Digital Accessibility. Paul Smyth will encourage businesses to champion accessibility in their digital efforts, build better feedback mechanisms for disabled customers to raise concerns and support government to enforce digital accessibility compliance.

Website Accessibility Champion Paul Smyth, added: “I firmly believe in the power of accessible technology to level the digital landscape – enabling and empowering all people to participate in society and ultimately reach their full potential. 

“Realising this accessible future – underpinned by inclusive technology that works for everyone, will require more collaboration and above all participation from everyone involved in making, buying, selling or using technology.”

The technology champion is Patrick Stephenson, Fujitsu’s Client Managing Director for Central and Local Government.

The assistive technology sector currently contributes £85m to the economy, and has enriched many disabled people’s lives across the world. But many mainstream businesses are still missing out on disabled people’s custom by failing to design technology with their needs in mind.

Technology Champion Patrick Stephenson, said: “Technology has a huge part to play in empowering people with disabilities and improving access to employment and services. I look forward to harnessing the power of the sector to deliver real change.

“I will work collaboratively across the sector to unlock the full potential of technology, bringing together partners such as techUK and Business in the Community to develop new ideas, improve results and create opportunities.” 

The technology and web accessibility champions are two of five new champions announced today to cover the countryside and heritage, products and spaces and brand and design sectors.

They join fourteen existing champions who have already made significant progress in improving accessibility across a diverse range of industries, from insurance to music.

The five new disability champions are:

  • Brand and Design: Marianne Waite, Founder of Think Designable.
  • Web Accessibility: Paul Smyth, Head of Digital Accessibility at Barclays.
  • Technology: Patrick Stephenson, Client Managing Director for Central and Local Government at Fujitsu.
  • Countryside and Heritage: Heather Smith, National Equality Specialist for the National Trust.
  • Products and Spaces: Ed Warner, Founder of Motionspot.

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