How to make ordering systems more accessible

Hello everyone:
Each month I will be responding to a question; chosen from a pool of some of
the most commonly asked ones that I have been asked over the years and
continue to be asked.
This month, I’d like to answer the following question:
How to make ordering systems more accessible.

There are really only two ways that you can make your ordering systems more
accessible to a blind person and if you keep in mind that you would be
benefiting the majority of your customers in doing so, then you would have
won the game. So here goes.

1. You need to think of your phones and your websites. For these are the
two major ways that customers use in order to order products and services.

2. If you use a phone system to offer products and services to your
customers when they order from you then you need to ensure that your menus
are easy to follow and that you give enough time for them to choose their
options. Instructions should be made easy to understand and your options
should not be made too complicated. If you use customer service reps as
part of your ordering system then you would do well to provide them with the
training that they would need to have when it comes to being able to fully
service your blind customers. In other words, to be able to assist the
customer in a manner that suggests assistance and understanding and not an
impression of condescension.

3. If your ordering system is an online system, then be sure to offer a
system where forms are easy to access with screen readers and screen
magnification. Make sure that the fields on your forms are well labeled and
that if an error is made that the appropriate message is fed back to the
customer. Make sure also that the form is easy to identify visually for
those who may have enough vision to complete them without the use of a
screen reader. Additionally, that if the customer runs into problems that
they could contact a live customer service rep.

4. In most cases those companies with ordering systems do provide both
alternatives to their customers; phone and online. So if you offer both
then be sure to let your customers know this.

This is by no means a complete list of what you would need to do in order to
make your ordering systems accessible but it is a good start.

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