1.15 For Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, provide an equivalent service through an accessible channel

If an IVR service meets all the applicable priority 1 guidelines and there are still people who cannot use it, you should ensure that the services it provides are available through an alternative channel. Accessing the alternative channel should involve a minimal amount of inconvenience to the user and should be provided at no extra cost.


Having met all the previous priority 1 guidelines, there may still be a small group of people who cannot use an IVR service. If this is the case, they are likely to be users who either have extreme difficulties in one particular area or who have multiple difficulties so that no combination of the accessibility features meets their needs.

For example, users who are deaf rely on TTY devices (text telephony which enables two-way typing over phone lines). This does not have to be supported under priority 1 of these guidelines. However, these users may still need to use the services that the IVR system provides. Providing an alternative channel through a human customer service agent has particular benefits, even for customers who can physically use the system but have some difficulty with it. The human representative is able to interpret customers' requirements, answer their questions and give spontaneous information that the machine is not capable of. They also provide a 'face' to the organisation, which some users are far happier with.

Directions and Techniques

Use trained customer service agents

The best alternative service is through a trained customer service agent who will be able to deal with a wide variety of situations and needs in an intelligent way, something no machine can match. These agents may use TTY devices to communicate with customers. Although they should offer the same choices and deliver the same information as is provided by the IVR system (taking into account customers' personal security considerations), they may not be word-for-word, since the medium is different. If possible, designers should consult with TTY users to determine what is best.

How you could check for this:

There are no specific test methods recommended for this guideline.