digital literacies fail to address potential for exclusion – again…

Sleepio online sleep management website

Sleepio is an online sleep improvement program based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The site includes videos hosted by Vimeo and they all have the standard user control bar with stop, play and pause buttons enabling the user to – stop, play and pause. This makes all the more frustrating that the Sleepio animated environment itself has none of the these essential components. The only way is exit.

sleepio screen with text options

You can’t jump back to listen again, increase the animation text size and there are no alternative format such as subtitles, captions or a transcript.

Sleepio program costs

Sleepio wants your money. There are a number of ways to pay for the program. Costs include an online community and online tools, all of which appear within the animation format. But it is only available to those with the prerequisite means of access.

This site is an example of the inaccessible nature of the world wide web/internet and how discriminatory online environments are becoming. This isn’t a case of being pedantic, or poor use of time in scoping the images on the site, it’s about fundamental equality legislation which is increasingly invisible in the design and delivery of online information.

The Guardian today carries an article on insomnia which is a thinly disguised advertisement for the Sleepio product. Maybe the Guardian itself should adopt a position of greater responsibility and refuse to promote websites which fail such basic accessibility requirements.  It’s time someone in a position to be influential addresses the issue of digital literacies which fail to address digital exclusion.

One Reply to “digital literacies fail to address potential for exclusion – again…”

  1. Hi Sue,

    We wish you had reached out to us through our email or social networks (e.g. tweeted this at us) as we accidentally found this post. As a young company centred on our users, we welcome any feedback on how to improve our service. Having read some of your journal articles to better understand your arguments (namely inaccessibility), we do acknowledge their validity. Unknowingly, we did help perpetuate the digital divide.

    However, we found your suggestions useful and one of them (subtitles) we are already looking to incorporate in our multimedia sessions. Please note though, that with the exception of the introductory video, our sessions are not videos, but layered multimedia content. Within the sessions themselves, we have enabled users to jump between chapters so they are able to relisten to a certain part of the session.

    Alongside this, we’ve ensured that all the non-session content (including the online community and tools) is semantically-coded HTML – and this is the bulk of the user experience.

    If you have any more suggestions, advice or resources to recommend to us for more guidance, please do get in touch. We are always available at and would love to hear from you.

    All the best,
    Sleepio Team

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