Weight Watchers Announces Accessibility Initiative for Blind and Visually Impaired Members

Broad-based Initiative Praised by Blind Community Leaders

NEW YORK, NY (June 27, 2013) – Weight Watchers International, Inc. (NYSE: WTW) today announced its ongoing initiative to make its websites, mobile applications and print information more accessible and inclusive for its members and subscribers with visual impairments.  The efforts were praised by blind community leaders.
 
Weight Watchers has adopted the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0 level AA as its accessibility standard for both web and mobile applications, and has already made substantial enhancements to its websites to meet this standard.  Weight Watchers has also strengthened its system for providing Braille, Large Print, and Audio versions of print information to members with visual impairments.
 
“Ensuring a high level of engagement and convenience for consumers is extremely important to us,” said Catherine Ulrich, Senior Vice President of WeightWatchers.com. “From product development to the work of our dedicated Service Providers in meetings rooms, we are committed to supporting all of our members and online subscribers in their weight loss journeys. We hope that our accessibility efforts empower those with visual impairments to better manage their food environment and establish daily routines that can become long-term healthy habits.”
 
Weight Watchers worked with the American Council of the Blind and Weight Watchers members and subscribers with vision loss on its accessibility initiative.
 
Alice Ritchhart, of Georgia, and Lillian Scaife, of California, are blind and love the Weight Watchers program.  
 
“We appreciate Weight Watchers’ leadership in recognizing the needs of all consumers, including those who have visual impairments.  This initiative builds on Weight Watchers’ tradition of outstanding customer service,” stated Lillian Scaife.
 
“We believe Weight Watchers is the best weight loss program out there, and we are very excited that the online tools and print information will be more available to us as a result of this commitment,” said Alice Ritchhart.
 
Kim Charlson, First Vice President of the American Council of the Blind, also praised the company’s initiative: “We’re thrilled that people with visual impairments will be able to take greater advantage of the wonderful tools and information that Weight Watchers offers. Like sighted people, people who are blind want to stay fit, be healthy and lose weight.  Thank you Weight Watchers for recognizing the needs of your blind members.”
 
Weight Watchers has already begun making accessibility improvements, and will continue doing so in the future. Information about the initiative can be found on the Weight Watchers website at http://www.weightwatchers.com/help/index.aspx?pageid=1396161 .

About the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The WCAG 2.0 guidelines are promulgated by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and ensure that sites are more accessible to persons with visual and other disabilities. Many Weight Watchers customers will not notice any differences to the site or the mobile applications, as the Guidelines do not affect the content or look and feel. The guidelines are of particular benefit to blind computer users who use screen reader voice output or magnification technology on their computers and mobile devices and who, like some individuals with mobility impairments, rely on a keyboard instead of a mouse for navigation.
 
The W3C is an international community that develops open standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web. The Web Accessibility Initiative is a program of the W3C that works with site owners, developers, people with disabilities and other interested parties to develop accessibility standards. More information available at w3.org/WAI.

About Weight Watchers International, Inc.

Weight Watchers International, Inc. is the world's leading provider of weight management services, operating globally through a network of Company-owned and franchise operations. Weight Watchers holds over 40,000 meetings each week where members receive group support and learn about healthy eating patterns, behavior modification and physical activity. WeightWatchers.com provides innovative, subscription weight management products over the Internet and is the leading Internet-based weight management provider in the world. In addition, Weight Watchers offers a wide range of products, publications and programs for those interested in weight loss and weight control.

About American Council of the Blind

American Council of the Blind is a national consumer-based advocacy organization working on behalf of blind and visually impaired Americans throughout the country, with members organized through seventy state and special interest affiliates. ACB is dedicated to improving the quality of life, equality of opportunity and independence of all people who have visual impairments. Its members and affiliated organizations have a long history of commitment to the advancement of policies and programs which will enhance independence for people who are blind and visually impaired. More information about ACB can be found by visiting www.acb.org.

Contact:

Weight Watchers
 
Name:  Stephanie Schulman
Phone:  212.817.4262
Email:  Stephanie.Schulman@weightwatchers.com
 
American Council of the Blind
 
Name: Kim Charlson
Phone: 617.972.7249
Email: kim.charlson@perkins.org

Copyright © 2013 American Council of the Blind
All content created initially for use by ACB in publications, in any media on any web site domains administered by ACB, or as a broadcast or podcast on ACB Radio, archived or not, is considered to be the property of the American Council of the Blind. Creative content that appears elsewhere originally remains the property of the original copyright holder. Those responsible for creative content submitted initially to ACB are free to permit their materials to appear elsewhere with proper attribution and prior notification to the ACB national office.