Accessibility is key for United Utilities

Over the past 12 months, the physical world came to a standstill and we were forced to perform everyday tasks online.

During these difficult times, United Utilities took the lead in ensuring over 100,000 people who may have a disability, visual impairment, learning difficulty, or speak English as a second language, had the tools and options they needed to access essential utility information hassle-free.

*Between 1 July and 31 December 2020, people who have switched energy supplier for both gas & electricity with Uswitch saved an average of £216

Laptop with open screen and text stating that United Utilities provides and inclusive experience online for over 100,000 people

An inclusive experience online for more than 100,000 people

2020 was a year we will never forget where the physical world came to something of a standstill and we were all forced to perform everyday tasks online.
Organisations across the globe made concerted efforts to maximise their online presence to ensure continued support and service to clients. Water company United Utilities did just this with the help of Recite Me accessibility and language options on its website.

By making its digital world accessible and barrier-free to all website visitors and customers, people were able to self-serve accounts and explore products and services without having to call United Utilities for one-to-one support over the phone or live chat.

United Utilities is responsible for delivering 1.8 billion litres of water a day to more than 3 million homes and businesses in the North West of England and is dedicated to providing its essential service at a high standard to the population.

How is United Utilities helping with accessibility?

Studies show that 1 in 5 people have impairments that make accessing online information challenging. Excluding 20% of the population is not something that United Utilities was not prepared to accept.

In 2020 the Recite Me toolbar helped over 100,000 people to read and understand website content barrier-free. This unique assistive toolbar helps everyone to customise their online experience to suit their own individual needs.
The Data shows that 552,059 pieces of content were read aloud using the text-to-speech engine and 20,707 pages were translated into a different language, including Polish, Portuguese and Arabic.

Other support tools include styling and reading assistance. 12,326 styling changes were made in total, including alterations to font type, size, and colour, and overall colour contrast between background and foreground.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to push people online, website accessibility factors are at the forefront of business development in 2021. We are incredibly proud to be part of a business’s development in the utilities sector.

Louise Beardmore, Customer Services and People Director at United Utilities, commented “We chose to install the Recite Me assistive toolbar to make our website accessible and truly inclusive to all. The internet can be an incredibly intimidating place and anyone who finds it difficult to understand or communicate is at a significant disadvantage.”

The Recite Me toolbar includes fully customisable styling features, reading aids, and translation tools, meaning web pages can be consumed in a way that is personalised and tailor-made to each unique website visitor. This includes the ability to change font size, type, and colour, adjust overall colour contrasts, strip away distracting graphics, download content as an audio file, convert content into over 100 different on-screen languages, or have the page read aloud in a choice of 35 different languages.

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Les Roberts - Energy Expert at UKPower

Les Roberts - Energy Expert at UKPower

If you’ve got an issue with your energy supplier, our consumer champion Les is on hand to help. A decade in consumer affairs means Les understands how confusing energy tariffs can be, so he'll cut through the jargon to help make sure you get the best deal.