Digital accessibility starts in store

Camille Djian & Martine Hermans

Camille Dijan, Partnerships and Sponsorship Manager for the non profit organisation
Jaccede and Martine Hermans, a member of the Board of Directors and the listening service of the charity Retina France

The French law of 11 February 2005 set the deadline of 2015 to make all public facilities accessible for everyone, including people with disabilities. What is the current situation?

Camille Djian: Things are changing. The accessibility requirement for public facilities has gained ground since 2005. But we’re not making progress fast enough. Especially because, if we look at it purely from a financial point of view, people with disabilities are just as much customers as anyone else. Providing them with adapted services is an easy way of increasing revenue.

Martine Hermans: Orange is the only telephone operator that offers inclusive services for people with special needs. I checked! Being visually impaired myself, Orange was the only company providing suitable technology. The support I received in an accessibility store taught me to use a mobile phone and the internet easily.

More about Retina France Association

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Do inclusive services go beyond being able to access buildings? 

M.H.: I believe inclusivity means making services accessible to everyone — that means all people, including people with disabilities of any kind. Accessibility doesn’t just mean that everyone should be able to enter and leave a shop, but also that the services on offer — purchasing, using the website, administrative formalities, etc. — should be adapted for them.

C.D.: Being inclusive means considering the needs of as many people as possible. That includes people with limited mobility, in the broadest sense of the term — so obviously people with disabilities, but also the elderly, pregnant women, people in wheelchairs and on crutches and parents with young children in pushchairs. I think that accessibility makes life easier for everyone. We should be taking it into consideration when designing the services of the future.

More about Association Jaccede

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How can we make further progress? 

M.H.: It is crucial that all employees in public facing roles, such as in store salespeople, are better trained so we as customers are able to use our phones by ourselves right from the word go. An inclusive service offering has to include a full overview of devices in store.

C.D.: Offering inclusive services is good, but we have to spread the word. Often, the first barrier for people with disabilities is not a lack of accessibility, but a lack of information. That’s the purpose behind Jaccede (which translates to “I can”) where anyone can detail the accessibility of the places they have visited. Sharing this information has an immediate social impact — it allows people to obtain this information before making a trip, and it rewards establishments that have invested in making their facilities more accessible. Orange has really understood this and has indexed their stores on the platform. Let’s hope that other brands and countries follow the movement, and that information about the accessibility of these places becomes more widespread.

Frédéric Colard

Customer rights and distributor responsibilities