We know how exhausting making a complaint can feel. Especially when confusing processes, inefficient communication channels, or technical issues make it even harder.
Accessibility is something that affects everyone. We can all relate to how frustrating it is when you are obstructed from being able to make or follow-up a complaint – whether it’s being left waiting on hold for hours, only to be cut off, or being sent on a wild-goose chase through broken contact forms or out-of-date email addresses.
Unfortunately, for many of our users, experiences like this occur far more frequently and can be much more upsetting.
People living with disabilities, temporary or long-term illnesses, mental health issues, or who struggle with using technology due to age or learning differences, often find themselves on the receiving end of discriminatory practices that may be invisible to others. Even when the things that exclude them are unintentional, the effects are extremely damaging to these individuals’ well-being, as well as society as a whole.
In this article, we want to highlight how important accessibility is for those making complaints. We will explore your rights when it comes to accessibility, how and who can help you to advocate for your needs. We will also highlight aspects of the Resolver system that make complaining much easier for those who need extra support.
In times of internet technologies, it can feel like there are almost no barriers to communication. You can quickly and easily get in touch with an individual or organisation anywhere in the world to let them know that you need further help or assistance. However, we all know that if a website, application, or technological tool is badly designed it can create its own obstructions.
If an organisation is thinking about accessibility, this means ensuring that their products and services, including their complaints processes, are designed to be used by anyone.
Whatever someone’s location, ability or socio-economic status, complaining should be accessible to them. In other words, the processes and communication systems companies have in place to allow people to make complaints should not create new barriers to communication. They should actively accommodate a variety of physical, cognitive, or situational abilities and differences.
Accessibility is relevant to everyone.
Making something accessible is most obviously relevant to those who are considered disabled, such as those with visual, auditory, cognitive, physical, or speech impairments. People with these specific needs must be offered a means of making a complaint in a way that is easy for them to do.
Accessibility also includes things that everyone experiences from time to time, but which are often not thought of as a disability.
For instance, breaking your arm, losing your glasses, or suffering from an illness that impacts on your ability to concentrate for extended periods of time are all examples of ‘temporary’ disabilities or impairments which also require special accommodation.
The same goes for ‘situational limitations’, where a particular environment limits the senses, such as a room that is too loud for conversing over the phone or too dark for reading small font.
Accessibility also applies to people with different socio-economic circumstances. If you can’t afford a laptop or high-speed internet, this shouldn’t prevent you from using a company’s website, accessing their product or service, or making a complaint.
Equal access and opportunity for people with diverse abilities are not just desirable but necessary and fundamental for any functioning society. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities defines access to information and communications technologies as a basic human right.
In UK law, the 2010 Equality Act makes it illegal to discriminate against various groups or ‘protected characteristics’. This applies to both the public and private sectors.
Businesses are legally required to ensure that their websites and communications channels accommodate those with disabilities or protected characteristics, such as people living with disabilities or the elderly.
However, while governments, service providers, and regulators need to ensure that this legislation is enforced – that complaining is accessible and that complaints about accessibility are listened to and acted upon – they need to be made aware of the issues. Unfortunately, this relies on those with accessibility issues to identify problems and raise them with organisations.
Whether you have a visual, auditory, or cognitive impairment, a learning difference or disability, or simply find using technology more of a challenge than others, it may feel particularly difficult to get companies to understand your specific needs and how they can be more accommodating to them.
This does not just make it harder to raise a complaint, but may put you off making one entirely. This is obviously harmful, especially if the issue you are wanting to complain about is to do with the accessibility of a product or service and is likely to be having a negative impact on many other people too.
Whether it be a lack of thought for people living with disabilities, limited methods of communication, or just bad design, inaccessibility to complaints processes must be challenged.
While we believe companies should do more, remember that when writing your complaint you have the right to request:
There are also some great organisations and resources that offer extra support for making complaints:
We have designed our system with accessibility issues in mind. We are certainly not perfect and are always seeking new ways to make our service more accessible. However, for those who may otherwise struggle with making, chasing up or responding to complaints, having a Resolver account and using our case file function can be helpful.
These days it can be really easy to lose track of email accounts and communication trails. With a Resolver account all of your complaints are stored in one place. You will have a different case file for each issue but there is only one set of login details to remember. The case file will gather and keep a record of all correspondence which can be easily downloaded if you would like to forward this to a support worker, advocate, or regulatory body.
When you raise a complaint with Resolver, our system will make it easier for you to be persistent with communications and remember to regularly chase a company up, as well as be able to take time away from the process.
If you are neurodivergent or have issues with your memory due to age or cognitive impairment, our regular notifications will remind you to get back in touch with the company at regular intervals or escalate your complaint to a higher contact or regulator at the appropriate time.
At the same time, if you struggle with your mental health, our system will also help you to take a break to look after yourself. Knowing that the reminders will prompt you to log back in and send a follow-up email should help you take time away from the stress of complaining while ensuring that your complaint will stay on track.
If a company has sent an email or file in the wrong format, we may be able to help you convert this. We can also get in touch with them to let them know that they are creating barriers to their customer’s ability to understand how their complaint is being dealt with.
Making a complaint is for anyone, regardless of their socio-economic background. Our system aims to give greater access to complaints processes so that you don’t have to rack up enormous phone bills or pay a claims management company just to raise a complaint, claim, or concern.
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for how we could improve the accessibility of the Resolver site, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.