https://servicedesign.blog.essex.gov.uk/2019/05/15/accessibility-our-legal-duty/

Accessibility: our legal duty

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
  • commissioned
  • 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.

Next steps

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.

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2 comments

  1. Comment by Marcus posted on

    Hi Helen,

    What are you and the teams views on the use of imagery on pages? We try to avoid but services and comms are always very keen.

    Cheers, Marcus

    Reply
    • Replies to Marcus>

      Comment by Helen West posted on

      Hi Marcus. Our view is that images should only be used where they clearly aid the user in finding what they need. We're going live with a new website shortly and we've stripped out all of the images with the exception of news and campaigns. We've also opted not to use icons as our research showed that unless they are very clear they are more of a distraction than a help. Traded services are a different kind of offer and we do have microsites which have images.

      Reply

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