Energy comparison sites urged to improve access for disabled customers

New research finds less than a third of 16 popular energy comparison websites are screen-reader friendly, not allowing blind customers to access the information

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Energy comparison websites need to improve access for disabled and older customers, the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC) urges.

The charity surveyed more than 500 members of its pan-disability consumer panel who reviewed the accessibility features of 16 popular energy comparison sites.

The review found that less than a third are screen-reader friendly, meaning blind customers are unable to access the information.

The research, which is funded by the Energy Redress Scheme, also suggests of those 16 websites under review just five had a text of readable size and six give users with manual dexterity issues the ability to access the keyboard to navigate the screen.

In addition, the study shows nine sites offer a telephone helpline but only one had a live chat service for users with hearing loss.

The survey also shows nearly 75% of respondents use additional energy because of their disability, primarily for heating their homes and washing. 

Almost 63.3% of disabled and older customers also say they have higher energy bills and more than half experienced financial difficulty as a result. 

Gordon McCullough, Chief Executive Officer at RiDC, said: “This project suggests there is a significant need among disabled and older people to find the best energy deals as so many of them struggle to pay their bills. 

“Energy comparison and switching websites can and should do a lot better in making sure that the many millions of disabled and older energy customers can easily use these sites and access the information they need.”

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