Focus: Communications - Site Visit

Late last year, the disability charity John Grooms commissioned research revealing that 'accessible' websites aimed at disabled people often have visual styles that put users off.

The organisation has since relaunched its own site as part of a continuing partnership with the internet giant AOL, which part-funded the research and is also offering training for disabled service users.

Main pages

This is a good website. The homepage is attractive and clear, featuring three horizontal menu bars that subtly categorise the site's functions into three areas: site interaction (publications, email updates); the charity's services (care, housing, holidays); and fundraising (supporters, media and campaigns, events).

It's difficult to mention everything this site includes, but the Grooms Holidays page, for example, offers hotel and self-catering listings, details accessibility standards and enables users to book online. It reflects an approach that characterises the site as a whole - every imaginable angle is covered. The search facility, which uses predictive text in an attempt to help users who have manual dexterity impairments, is also a good one.

Special features

The charity's research found that users prefer sites that meet their consumer preferences to those that meet their disability needs. The site has responded perfectly with Living, an "accessible lifestyle portal" that contains a relevant mix of interviews, articles, information and advice with a disability-consumer angle.

John Grooms says:

"The site was developed to engage existing clients, attract new audiences to disability and ensure supporters could grasp with ease the varied work of the charity. Such a high level of user participation has ensured that it is both accessible and user-friendly."

Site Visit is by Tony Hodson

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