Skincare brand, SkinOwl, is a collection of clean, results driven skincare called with a mission to nurture the complete wellbeing of my consumers, but they’re also committed to making their online shopping experience accessible to people with disabilities. With over 50 features that tailor their site to someone’s personal needs SkinOwl is leading the charge of inclusive website design.
I was so inspired by this business act of love, that I reached out to the founder, Annie Tevelin, to give me a deep dive in how creating a website that allows people with disabilities to have a better user experience became a top priority for the team at SkinOwl.`
Love Your Customers By Building An Inclusive Website For Them | Stephanie Burns
Stephanie Burns: “What was your inspiration behind launching this feature?”
Annie Tevelin: “A friend shared with me that her cousin had recently lost her hearing and was struggling with everyday activities including online shopping, which she once enjoyed. It opened my eyes to how difficult and inaccessible the Internet is to people who suffer from various disabilities: blindness, epilepsy, cognitive dysfunctions, and a myriad of other auditory and vision impairments. I didn’t know if there was a way to make SkinOwl more accessible to those who wanted to share in the joy of the Internet (mostly with how everything is online in this day and age), but I was committed to finding out.”
Burns: “So how exactly does this new platform work?”
Tevelin: “SkinOwl.com now has over 50 features that people with disabilities can use to tailor any website to their personal needs.
For the blind, SkinOwl.com utilizes AI and image recognition Technologies. It can scan, analyze, and understand a website’s structure, element roles, forms and more, making them all compliant with the WCAG 2.1 accessibility standards. It also provides accurate alternative text descriptions to images (Alt tags) for the screen readers of visually impaired people. This is done by utilizing OCR and IRIS technologies.
People who suffer from Parkinson’s, amputees, or other impairments are unable to use a mouse effectively. They use computers with their keyboards only while utilizing a selected number of keys. SkinOwl ensures that our website is fully navigable using the TAB key alone, including dropdown menus, popups, and forms. Moreover, all navigable elements are given visible focuses and are clickable using ‘enter.’
Elderly people, people suffering from cognitive impairments, and people who have had brain strokes may find it hard to comprehend sophisticated language, slang, or specific phrases or expressions. This can make it difficult for them to use the Internet effectively. To enhance their experience, SkinOwl.com offers a built-in dictionary that quickly provides a full description of abbreviations and expressions, without transferring to an external website or rephrasing the content itself.
People who suffer from epilepsy cannot be exposed to lights and animations that blink or flicker. Therefore, they have a constant fear of using the Internet, as almost every website today has a flashing banner meant to grab attention. While these banners are useful in achieving their goal, for people with epilepsy, they are dangerous and likely to provoke a seizure. Our program allows people with epilepsy to immediately halt all types of animations (including but not limited to videos, GIFs, CSS or JS) with a single click, allowing them to browse the web at ease, with no fear.
There are an assortment of color adjustments for the colorblind, alterations of font size and type, spacing, emphases, large cursors, and more. People who suffer from visual impairments, such as color blindness, glaucoma, and cataracts, cannot enjoy websites and their content to the fullest. This is true for various reasons, such as experiencing headaches derived from contrast issues, missing buttons due to not being able to see their color, or even not being able to read entire text blocks that are poorly spaced and appear blurry. Our program allows visually impaired people to adjust almost any aspect of a website to their needs. It can increase or decrease font sizes, add or remove spacing between words, letters, or rows, change the font entirely, or even change colors and contrast.”
Burns: “Why is inclusivity/accessibility so important in your business?”
Tevelin: “My answer to that is ‘Why shouldn’t it be?’ If you can make these changes, I think a business should. There is a whole group of people that don’t get to live online in the way that I do. Online behavior has made my life so much easier for me in every way, so why not gift this ease and accessibility to everyone?”
Burns: “Do you see a change or shift happening in the beauty/wellness sector or in business as a whole when it comes to this type of customer service?”
Tevelin: “I have noticed a shift especially in the beauty and wellness world on creating more user-friendly online shopping experiences. Our world is changing and there appears to be a larger focus on inclusivity across the board and I hope it continues to evolve and help those in need.”
Burns: “How did you go about this from a technology standpoint?”
Tevelin: “SkinOwl hired a firm, AccessiBe, to help install this program. They offer only fully automated web accessibility technology that complies with the WCAG 2.1 and keeps our website accessible at all times.”
Burns: “How are the outcomes so far and what do you hope for in the future?”
Tevelin: “We have received emails from relatives of those with impairments thanking us for being part of a larger movement toward inclusivity. We hope that in offering this new platform, we are able to enrich the shopping experience for those with disabilities.”