Cupar is Open

One in five of us has some kind of disability. As Scotland’s (and the world’s) first Digital Improvement District, we’re delighted to have been chosen to pilot a new platform that will help to highlight Cupar’s accessibility, to help demonstrate that we’re open for all … to deliver a collaborative project that will showcase Cupar as a world-leading inclusive destination. Here’s how …

CuparNow is working with OOVIRT – a Dundee company supported by Scottish Enterprise and Visit Scotland – that specialises in digital accessibility and customer experience. Their work is not only helping organisations to cross the Ts and dot the Is on legal requirements regarding online accessibility, they’re also working directly with businesses to improve customer service delivery. Inclusive Cupar will integrate with CuparNow to ensure the project meets the highest digital accessibility standards.

What’s the issue?

Here are some UK stats that clearly demonstrate both the issue – and the opportunity.

Disabled: there are nearly 14 million disabled people in the UK

  • Approximately only 8% of disabled use a wheelchair
  • 8% of children are disabled
  • 19% of working age adults are disabled
  • 45% of pension age adults are disabled

Elderly: over 50s account for 35% of the UK population

  • This figure expected to grow to 50% in the next 5 years
  • 18% of the population are over 65 (expected to increase to 25% in the next 20 years)

Pregnant Mothers: at any one time, 4% of the female population is pregnant

Young Families: in 2017 there were 19.0 million families in the UK; this increased by 15% from 16.6 million in 1996

On a global scale, the accessible tourism market alone is an emerging market the size of China with over £5.6 trillion in annual disposable income. The provision of accessible information is one of the most important ways a business can improve accessibility with all audiences … yet it is an area where so many people are still being let down. A lack of accessible digital resources costs businesses millions of pounds each year. The OOVIRT work seeks to remove some of these barriers by allowing any organisation using their platform to better connect with potential customers whilst providing an enhanced and inclusive experience.

Who is OOVIRT?

The Dundee-based company has already worked on projects in Fife: they helped the region achieve WorldHost Destination status (the customer service standard promoted by the region and VisitScotland) and they continue to deliver customer service workshops to improve the customer experience being delivered by businesses in Fife.

OOVIRT Virtually Inclusive – Virtual Tours
Pictured from left, Lukasz Bieda, Ashley Petrie, Claire Díall, Richard Meiklejohn, Mark Beaumont Rector of the University of Dundee and Michael Leeland
Picture by Graeme Hart.
Copyright Perthshire Picture Agency
Tel: 01738 623350 Mobile: 07990 594431

They’re also starting a project with the Fife Cultural Trust to help develop tourism itineraries and ensure businesses engage with marketing content and programmes that are developed to maximise the visitor opportunity.

Why Cupar?

Cupar is an atypical town but we are unique in our location and offering. We have a population of 9,020 which means around 1,800 of our residents have some kind of disability. The Kingdom around us attracts some 8 million visitors in a year – 800,000 of whom will have some form of disability. We are a perfect test bed for this project.

As the Digital Improvement District in Cupar, we recognise that just providing digital infrastructure is insufficient – that a fully managed service delivering integrated digital and social media communication is the most efficient and effective way to provide digital support for multiple audiences at a local level. As a joined-up approach, this will:

  • Maximise use of free public realm Wi-Fi (elements of this are already live in the town centre)
  • Gather and report on available data (this is already showing usage, demographics and reach)
  • Better engage users of the service and supportive digital channels (we are sharing more content from the town and its businesses than ever before)

These objectives seek to ensure that the local businesses in the area fully benefit from the available data. The Digital Guidance document set out best practice steps to design, procure and manage digital infrastructure. The accessibility of any digital interface (e.g. web platform or Wi-Fi sign-in form) is a universal requirement to ensure all users can benefit from the available service. On the small print – this is already a legal requirement as part of the Equality Act 2010 and further highlighted by the government stipulating that all public sector websites need to be accessible by 23 September 2020.

In June 2018, the business association in Cupar (ABCD) agreed to a pilot project with Destination Digital. The purpose of the project is to provide enhanced digital support – delivered 365 days of the year – to the benefit of multiple audiences. Part of the delivery project – as outlined – is the provision of free public realm Wi-Fi in the town centre: another element is this blog that also acts as a live database listing all local businesses. We are best placed to work with OOVIRT on this exciting new programme.

The Pilot

OOVIRT has set out a six-month pilot project (May-Oct 2019) to enhance the work being undertaken by the CuparNow DID ensuring that accessibility standards are met and the opportunity to be fully inclusive is realised. Inclusive Cupar will help to generate awareness of the project and the town, to attract new visitors and to support local businesses and the community … particularly those with additional accessibility needs.

Deliverables

An Inclusive Cupar platform – offering a searchable database of business and organisation locations – will:

  1. Gather & map out the key accessibility features of the shared access infrastructure such as (shared via the platform):
    1. Car or coach parking and drop-off areas
    2. EV charging
    3. Public (including any accessible or changing place) toilets
    4. Main public transport connections
  2. Create virtual scenes offering (shared via the platform):
    1. High definition visuals of businesses across Cupar
    2. Unique content for marketing & social media channels
    3. Interactive and informative guides on how to access the destination
    4. An interactive virtual map to help locate highlighted places

We will be working closely with OOVIRT to ensure that project partners and stakeholders are fully engaged – be they businesses, community partners, culture and tourism organisations as well as those providing educational, environmental, health and social services in and around the town.

Outcomes

What do we want to see from this initiative?

  • An accessible platform meeting public sector digital accessibility standards
  • Benchmarked and tracked locations – pre and post-project – for:
    • Current level of inclusive marketing content
    • Provision of access information
    • Awareness of opportunities around accessible tourism
    • Number of visitors to Cupar’s digital platforms
    • Social media engagement numbers

The delivery of the Digital Improvement District seeks to increase investment, innovate and provide inclusive growth – all helping to drive improved competitiveness and tackle inequality. By providing the essential access information in an accessible format online, the Inclusive Cupar project will ensure these objectives are met to benefit both locals and visitors to the area.

Future-proofing the project …

Beyond the initial six month pilot (subject to funding) we’d like to see OOVIRT and its partners developing and delivering:

  • Ongoing accessible digital platform maintenance and provision
  • Quality assurance sampling
  • Reviewed and updated content
  • Content and platform features expansion e.g. custom itineraries
  • Coordinated content design with charitable and social services
  • Customer service and/or disability awareness training

Beyond Cupar, there’s the opportunity for our support to be seen as the trailblazer: through establishing partnerships across all sectors, OOVIRT will be looking to increase awareness of access information requirements and seek to raise funds towards improving shared accessibility infrastructure.

  • By engaging with OOVIRT and their platform, any organisation will be able fully to map out their customer journey and meet the necessary digital accessibility standards.
  • The local authority, NHS and other public service providers will be able to highlight their available services in an innovative and safe environment, helping to better engage with their community and improve awareness of care and support services.
  • All private businesses and third sector organisations will be able to better promote their whole destination through a better understanding of what is available across the whole destination and not just in one location.
  • OOVIRT’s key partner charity is Pamis who actively promote, campaign and manage information on the available Changing Place toilets in Scotland: by mapping out critical shared resources and their proximity to each business, a more inclusive and welcome destination can be developed.
  • Engaging with property agents to showcase their available properties using the virtual environments. Will can use our asset management expertise to work with agents and encourage them to remove standard A-boards being used to advertise spaces.
  • Engaging with local valuation assessors to store and track the data in relation to each property. This can help improve data tracking, productivity and access to information. As the platform develops, user generated content may be added through a quality-controlled system. The likes of the charity Euan’s Guide and its followers can provide appraisal of the quality of access information being provided by businesses.
  • OOVIRT’s close work with VisitScotland could significantly raise awareness of the opportunity that accessible tourism presents and help provide local businesses with new opportunities to grow their customer base.

Understanding accessibility …

Making a website or mobile app accessible means making sure it can be used by as many people as possible. This includes those with:

  • impaired vision
  • motor difficulties
  • cognitive impairments or learning disabilities
  • deafness or impaired hearing

Accessibility means more than putting things online. It means making your content and design clear and simple enough so that most people can use it without needing to adapt it, while supporting those who do. For example, someone with impaired vision might use a screen reader (software that lets a user navigate a website and ‘read out’ the content), braille display or screen magnifier. Someone with motor difficulties might use a special mouse, speech recognition software or on-screen keyboard emulator.

Customer survey …

A recent survey of disabled people and their friends and family (Source: The Euan’s Guide Access Survey 2018) found the following results:

  • 95% would look for access information online before visiting a venue
  • 92% did not feel very confident when visiting a new venue
  • 86% had experienced misleading or inaccurate accessibility information on a venue’s website
  • 85% would check a company’s website first for information on accessibility
  • 83% had been put off making a purchasing decision because they could not find the relevant information
  • 77% agreed that staff training is a way in which venues can improve their accessibility
  • 73% had had a trip ruined by inaccurate accessibility information
  • 67% agreed that provision of information is a way in which venues can improve their accessibility
  • 49% would automatically presume a venue was inaccessible if they could not find information on that company’s website.

The above stats clearly show a need for improvement in the current way access information is consumed by customers.

What’s the background to the Cupar project?

The Scottish Government’s Town Centre Action Plan highlights six thematic areas:

  • Town Centre Living
  • Vibrant Local Communities
  • Enterprising Communities
  • Accessible Public Services
  • Digital Towns
  • Pro-active Planning

A number of actions were set out with short, medium and long-term timescales. A subsequent full review of the current capacity and opportunity around Scotland’s digital infrastructure was set out in the 2017 Digital Guidance report – World Class Scotland 2020. It highlighted “A well-resourced, closely managed strategy combing virtual resources with real world assets, meeting clear objectives, is key.

The three themes in the Town Centre Toolkit are:

  • Attractive
  • Active
  • Accessible

The accessible theme focuses on physical infrastructure and overlooks the requirement for digital accessibility and digital tools helping to provide the relevant information people need to move around and access the area, particularly for new visitors. A recent survey of disabled people and their friends and family (Source: The Euan’s Guide Access Survey 2018) found the following results:

  • 95% would look for access information online before visiting a venue
  • 92% did not feel very confident when visiting a new venue
  • 86% had experienced misleading or inaccurate accessibility information on a venue’s website
  • 85% would check a company’s website first for information on accessibility
  • 83% had been put off making a purchasing decision because they could not find the relevant information
  • 77% agreed that staff training is a way in which venues can improve their accessibility
  • 73% had had a trip ruined by inaccurate accessibility information
  • 67% agreed that provision of information is a way in which venues can improve their accessibility
  • 49% would automatically presume a venue was inaccessible if they could not find information on that company’s website

The above stats clearly show a need for improvement in the current way access information is consumed by customers.

Case studies in the Digital Guidance report highlighted the approach and need for appropriate digital assets to be developed and managed yet no consideration has been included as to how accessible any of these assets are … or how many organisations within each destination provide any access information.

The Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework sets out their ambition in Chapter 1 to build a globally competitive, sustainable and inclusive economy. It identifies a strong economy with growing, competitive and innovative businesses is essential to supporting jobs, incomes and our quality of life. Our economy must also be environmentally sustainable and inclusive – involving and providing benefit and opportunity for all of our people and communities. In turn, a strong competitive economy depends on a skilled, healthy and flexible workforce. And our rich ecological capital and natural environment are powerful assets that can help create economic value for the country as a whole. So, our core purpose is clear: we will grow the economy in a sustainable and inclusive way to increase wellbeing. We want all of our communities, both urban and rural, to flourish economically, socially and environmentally.

Through OOVIRT’s existing collaborations with leading Scottish Universities, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland, the company will provide an exemplar project that can be readily expanded to any Improvement District in Scotland – and further afield – showcasing Scotland as the world’s most digitally inclusive country.

 

UK Business Statistics

Some further facts and figures

  • 1.98 million SMEs do not have websites, costing them over £343 billion each year. Introducing a website could equate to an average uplift in revenue of £173,769 per business.
  • Small-sized businesses stand to make the largest growth in revenue – £106 billion per year if they introduce a website.
  • The research investigated the number of UK SMEs operating without a website and calculated the predicted uplift in revenue if they were to launch a new site by industry sector and business size.
  • Despite living in a digital age where consumers’ first point of call is the internet, the results revealed that some 1.98 million SMEs currently have no online presence, costing them a mammoth £343 billion every year.
  • Approved Index concluded that introducing a website could equate to an average uplift in turnover of £173,769 per business.
  • When broken down by business size, the report threw up some surprising findings, most notably that businesses functioning without a team of employees – sole proprietors with one self-employed manager or just one employed member of staff – are also the biggest segment of companies who do not have a web presence – some 1.5 million enterprises.
  • Small-sized businesses – those with 10-49 employees – stand to make the biggest additional contribution to the economy – Approved Index forecasts a revenue growth of £106 billion per year if these organisations introduced a website as part of their marketing strategy.

Project Supporter

Any project supporter can financially contribute towards the project outcomes and help to improve their brand value. The OOVIRT mission is a huge social one:

  • To improve digital accessibility and the provision of access information.
  • Helping people have greater choice and freedom about where they can visit.
  • By working together any supporter can help make a huge difference to their community.

Need more information?

Contact Richard Meiklejohn at OOVIRT

Unit 6, Angus Works, Fairbairn Street, Dundee, DD3 7JZ

on +44 (0)13 82 73 72 73 or by email: contactus@oovirt.com

 

Thanks for reading!