In response to consumers with disabilities unsure about which wireless devices and services best fit their needs and abilities, the Wireless RERC developed “Your Guide to Choosing a Cell Phone” in 2004.
Today, all of the major wireless manufacturers and service providers, as well as some third party resources, maintain websites offering accessibility information. These websites are powerful tools for gathering and comparing information about available products and services for customers with disabilities. At the same time, navigating these sites, and the sheer amount of available information, can be intimidating for some customers.
In spring, 2010, the Wireless RERC conducted a study among members of its Consumer Advisory Network (CAN), a nationwide group of consumers with varying degrees of abilities, to determine the usefulness of these online accessibility resources. CAN members were asked to explore these sites as if they were intending to purchase a new wireless product or service.
Reaching accessibility information from these sites’ homepages can be challenging. This information may be found under a “corporate governance” section, or “help and support” pages. Sometimes this information is identified as “disability resources”, but more often than not as “accessibility”. To minimize these challenges to study participants, we provided links directly to each site’s accessibility pages.
We asked survey respondents to rate the usefulness of each online accessibility site on a scale from one (poor) to five (excellent). Respondents were also encouraged to comment on the information that they found especially useful or helpful, as well as to suggest improvements.