Greyscale tribute to Prince Philip goes down badly


Major rail websites reverted to colour on Monday after a decision to make them greyscale ‘as a mark of respect’ following the death of Prince Philip was met with widespread complaints and mockery.

In particular, disabled users pointed out that the move had made the National Rail website, which provides timetable information, significantly less accessible to people with visual impairments.

Robin Spinks, from the Royal National Institute of Blind People, told the Guardian: ‘As someone who is registered severely sight impaired, good colour contrast on a website is incredibly important. A lack of this makes it difficult for me to read the content and causes headaches and eye strain. It leaves me feeling unwelcome as a customer.

‘Although I can understand why an organisation might make a change to its website in circumstances such as this, any change should be inclusive and accessible so that all customers can continue to use the site as normal.’

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which runs National Rail Enquiries, said: ‘The National Rail Enquiries website was temporarily greyscaled as a mark of respect following the death of HRH Duke of Edinburgh on Friday.

‘We are listening to feedback about how people are using the website and have made further changes today to make it more accessible to all our customers.'

Network Rail also made its website greyscale on Monday, as did some train operating companies.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: ‘We temporarily made our website greyscale as a mark of respect following the death of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

‘We’ve been made aware this has caused problems for people accessing the content so it’s now back to its usual look. We’re sorry it’s caused issues and we thank everyone for their feedback.’

Hilary Stephenson, managing director at research, design and development company Nexer Digital, said: ‘This is part of a wider issue in public service messaging and communications, where accessibility is an afterthought.

‘We've seen it throughout the pandemic with missing captions, no British Sign Language, and the misuse of animated infographics and charts during press conferences. Access for all should drive public services such as National Rail, giving it the greatest chance of reaching the broadest audience.’

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