New web and app accessibility legislation came into force on 23 September 2018.
We now have a legal duty to make our websites and web apps accessible to a AA standard.
For an organisation of our size, that's no small task.
What does this mean?
Around 20% of people in the UK have a disability.
This can include:
- impaired vision
- motor difficulties
- cognitive impairment or learning difficulties
- deafness or impaired hearing
There are lots of things that help people with disabilities use the internet.
If you have impaired hearing, you can use screen readers read the text of a page out loud. People with impaired vision often use a braille display or screen magnifier. People with motor difficulties might use a special mouse, speech recognition software or an onscreen keyboard emulator.
With more of our services moving online, we have to ensure we’re not discriminating against people with disabilities accessing these services.
For lots of things, like school places or older people’s bus passes, residents have no choice but to come to us.
Making sure all our websites are open and easy to use for everyone isn't just something we should be doing. It's the law.
How big is the task?
We can’t understand the scale of the work until we know which websites and web apps we have and how much work we might need to do to make them compliant. We’ve asked services to provide us with a list of websites that they manage and this includes ones that are:
- developed and delivered by our tech team
- managed and hosted by a third party
What we’re doing first
We can’t do everything right now so we’re starting with the new essex.gov.uk website which will go live at the beginning of June.
We’ve been using checking tools like Powermapper and SiteImprove through the design and development process and are working with the Shaw Trust to test the site with users.
We’ve also started to understand the number of PDFs we have in our web estate, as often these are not accessible for people using assistive technology.
Guidance on GOV.UK suggests that we prioritise the PDFs that users might need to access to complete a task or access a service. With that in mind we’ve started a register of priority PDFs that might need to be redesigned as web content or turned into accessible online forms.
We’ll get the report back from the Shaw Trust shortly and we’ll update our accessibility statement and start to fix any issues that have been flagged.