5 Common Online Xmas Shopping Challenges for the Visually Impaired

At this time of year, the pressure to get everything ordered and ready in time for the big day can be truly immense. This pressure is bad enough when you don’t have a disability, so perhaps you can dimly imagine how much worse it can be for those who do.  

Those with visibility issues, for example, are not only at a distinct disadvantage when trying to shop in person, but also, unfortunately, when doing so online. 

The many challenges faced by people with limited vision when trying to do Christmas shopping physically should be obvious to most people. It is easy to imagine yourself trying to navigate a packed out shopping center with only a cane to guide you, for example, or attempting to get the attention of an already overwhelmed staff member without the benefit of visual cues. Both of these are examples of issues that everyone with just a little imagination can easily understand.  

When considering the challenges such as this that exist in the physical world, it makes perfect sense that so many people with visual impairments try to avoid these physical shopping headaches altogether by doing the majority of their festive shopping online. 

Ït is disappointing, then, to find that the online shopping experience for those with low vision or blindness can often still pose a myriad of significant and deeply frustrating challenges. 

Let’s take a look at 5 common website issues that can cause real problems for visitors with visual disabilities during the festive season.

5 Common Seasonal Website Issues for Visually Impaired Users:

1 - Unable to Find the Product 

This might sound crushingly obvious, but you would be shocked at how many e-commerce websites effectively hide their products away from visually impaired visitors. Make sure that you make your product menu and product descriptions fully accessible for those with low vision/blindness, and that you apply adequate alt text to all product images.  

2 - Can’t Put Item in Basket 

If a visually impaired visitor successfully finds the product they are looking for on your site, their next step will be to add it to their shopping basket. Take steps to ensure that this process is both accessible and clear for those without sight. Again, you might think that in 2022 this would be somewhat obvious to most people, but yet here we are. 

3 - Non-Accessible Checkout Process & Payment Input Method

Next up is the checkout process and payment input. Nothing is more frustrating than getting to this stage only to be thwarted by an inaccessible element such as a check button that needs to be clicked but is not clearly marked up for users with low vision/blindness. Avoid your potential customers pulling out their hair and cursing your name by making sure that all necessary checkout and payment method input fields are optimized to be flagged by screen readers.  

4 - Delivery Options Not Accessible 

Delivery options are often presented visually, with a map serving to display the locations where an item can be delivered or collected. For obvious reasons, this is of little use to potential customers with low vision or blindness. Try to make their experience less painful by ensuring that delivery options are presented in a manner that can be navigated by users reliant on non-visual elements and assistive technologies. 

5 - Inaccessible Checkboxes 

Sometimes, after a dutiful website visitor has completed all of the above stages, everything is suddenly, and from their perspective inexplicably, ruined. What is the cause? A small, seemingly innocent checkbox that is inaccessible. If your order or checkout processes include any checkboxes that need to be clicked in order to proceed, make sure that these are marked up so as to be recognized by screen readers.

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Keeping Xmas Merry with Accessible Websites

In order to do the right thing from not only a moral (not to mention festive) perspective and benefit from an increased audience, e-commerce websites must ensure they are providing an accessible experience for visitors with disabilities, whether visual in nature or otherwise. 

This is especially crucial during the festive season, however, when access to online shopping services can literally mean the difference between a good time with the family and a total flaming disaster. 

Poor website accessibility is not just an issue from the disabled consumers perspective, but is also a real problem for e-commerce in general, which loses literally hundreds of millions in revenue every year for this simple and very avoidable reason. If you want to ensure you are doing the right thing while also tapping into the widest possible online market, you need to ensure that your website can be accessed by all your potential customers.  

This holiday season, try to keep in mind that seemingly small details for users with full vision can become absolute dead ends for those who suffer from visual impairments. 

You can make this xmas a little more jolly for your visitors with blindness and low vision by ensuring that none of the above 5 issues are a problem on your website. 





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