The Royal National Institute of the Blind’s accessibility champion Julie Howell has announced her move to web design agency Fortune Cookie.

The appointment reflects a major strategic step to place the wider business benefits of accessibility at the heart of Fortune Cookie’s operations.

Howell, who worked for RNIB for 12 years, is best known for raising awareness in the public and private sectors of web accessibility and the rights of disabled customers to use websites. She is Technical Author of the Disability Rights Commission and British Standards Institution’s recently published guidance on commissioning accessible websites (PAS 78).

Speaking about her move, Howell says, “At RNIB I have been able to move accessibility higher up the agenda of many organisations. At Fortune Cookie I will be directly involved in helping businesses and government agencies to make their websites accessible. I will gain an even better understanding of how accessible design can enhance return on investment and attract more customers.

“Fortune Cookie has achieved RNIB’s coveted ‘See it Right’ accessible website status for more of its clients than any other design agency. Together we shall continue to help Fortune Cookie’s clients reach larger proportions of their target audiences through accessible, usable web design.”

Fortune Cookie’s Managing Director, Justin Cooke, says, “This appointment is one of the most exciting we have made in Fortune Cookie’s nine year history. To date we have worked hard to prove that gorgeous-looking, usable, accessible websites deliver a return on investment. Now we must broaden the issue of accessibility so that it appeals and is relevant to the biggest brands in the world. There is no-one in the UK more capable of achieving this than Julie Howell.”

Fortune Cookie has produced accessible websites for many clients, including Legal and General, which reported

• 160% increase in the number of visitors receiving quotes for their financial products
• 66% reduction in site maintenance costs
• 28% increase in natural search engine listings within 24 hours of the new accessible site being launched
• 100% return on investment within 12 months

Revolution Magazine's 2006 Agency Survey ranked Fortune Cookie
13th out of over 395 UK digital agencies.

Howell takes up her new position of Director of Public Relations at Fortune Cookie on 6 November 2006.

Notes for editors

• Until 3 November 2006 Julie Howell may be contacted at Julie.Howell@rnib.org.uk or 01733 375074.
• For a hi-res picture and further biographical information about Julie Howell visit www.juliehowell.co.uk
• Julie Howell is author of Publicly Available Specification 78: Guide To Good Practice In Commissioning Accessible Websites (PAS 78). PAS 78 was commissioned by the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) and published by the British Standards Institution (BSI) in March 2006. It can be downloaded free of charge at http://www.drc-gb.org/pas
• For information about RNIB’s ‘See it Right’ accreditation for accessible websites visit www.rnib.org.uk/wac
• For information about RNIB contact Bill Alker in RNIB’s press office at balker@rnib.org.uk or 0207-391 2223.
• Fortune Cookie is one of only 15 agencies in the UK to have been appointed by the COI (Central Office of Information) to its roster as a pre-qualified supplier of Digital Strategy services.
• For information about Fortune Cookie visit www.fortunecookie.co.uk or contact Justin Cooke at Justin.Cooke@fortunecookie.co.uk or 0870 736 1000

Published on: 12:00AM on 2nd October 2006