As a telco & ISP, our main product is the internet. Making the internet more accessible and usable for our audience is key, and that includes people on the spectrum. Accordingly, a brand experience that connects as directly as this, doesn’t only show what we stand for, but provides a product that will continue to be used to make an internet for all.
Etisalat is a brand that stands for togetherness, and as an internet brand, we knew that while the internet is a great place for most, it can be difficult for some. The internet is stimulating – full of skip ads, pop-ups, auto-plays and TikToks. However, when it comes to people on the autism spectrum, this dynamism can become a problem. One of the common symptoms of autism is meltdowns, caused by sensory overload – an over-stimulation of the senses.
Accordingly, our brief was simple, as a brand that believes in inclusivity, how do we make a more accessible internet for people on the autism spectrum?
Describe the creative idea (30% of vote)
To help foster a more inclusive web, we created the Etisalat Wider Web extension, a browser extension to help people on the spectrum navigate websites. The extension, a first-of-its-kind, allows for a global redesign of the web experience by reshaping and simplifying how information is presented on the websites.
An extension available on all major browsers, that realigns webpages to be more autistic friendly.
Describe the strategy (20% of vote)
Before starting anything, our first step was to understand that without an insider’s perspective, it would be impossible to achieve our objectives. Our project started with in-depth research where we spoke with psychologists and experts to understand the pain points that autistic people face when surfing the internet.
From this research, we were able to identify the needed tweaks to be done to web pages, which can make them more accessible. The extension would need to be both simple to use and configurable to match the diverse range of neurodivergent people it is made for.
Describe the execution (20% of vote)
Through our research, we determined that there were 6 main pain points for neurodivergent people browsing the web:
- The amount of information on the screen
- The clash of colors
- The variations and difficulty in reading font types,
- The visually disruptive nature of some images
- Loud videos with auto play
The open-source extension works on any language and is configurable to allow users to pick their preference in color, page width and font size, and is available for all the major browsers:Chrome, Firefox, Edge & Safari.
We then tested our extension with different people on the spectrum to gauge their reactions and make improvements. Their sentiments were heartwarming and encouraging, pushing us to launch on world autism day.
List the results (30% of vote)
During the launch, the extension was officially endorsed by the government receiving the approval of the autistic population in the UAE. The extension is currently going through its early adoption phase having been widely shared within the psychology community, already being downloaded in 32 countries, and increasing unique site visits to our Etisalat website 20% during the week after launch.
As for the campaign, after less a month of launch, it had reached 1,989,651,742 impressions, getting featured on TV channels, radio stations and newspaper including BBC, CNN, Khaleej Times, Virgin Radio & others. This created not only created connection with our brand and extension, but also for the cause that is rarely highlighted in the Middle East.