In the Service Design team, we’re totally committed to ensuring that every Essex resident can access all our online services easily, in the way they feel most comfortable. That means focusing on accessibility.
This commitment isn’t just written into our DNA as a team of user-centred designers, it’s the law.
A lot’s been going on since we wrote about our legal duty to users with accessibility issues in May.
Our Essex.gov.uk site has been reviewed by the Shaw Trust. We’ve fixed the issues they raised, and the site is now being re-tested. We’ve written an accessibility statement that will be updated with our progress.
But that’s only the start. We need to make all our microsites, apps and PDFs accessible.
We’ve set up a dedicated project team to manage this work, and we’re already making steady progress.
We’ve identified and prioritised key PDFs that will need to be made accessible so all residents can access our services. This includes making the language clearer, and formatting them so screen-readers to understand them.
There are thousands of PDFs across our web-estate. To make sure our project is sustainable, we’ll be ensuring that teams across the organisation have the skills they need to ensure every single one of them is accessible.
Accessibility means everything
We’re also looking at how to make sure our online forms are accessible and easy to use. As more residents access services online it’s vital that we remove barriers that might prevent people doing this.
The accessibility directive also covers things we’ve outsourced to third parties, like our online newsletters. Luckily, they’ve been really receptive to the changes we’ve suggested to address some of the accessibility issues that we identified.
Building for the future
Finally, and most importantly, we’ve started to pull together guidance for staff across the organisation so they understand why we’re doing this work, and how they can help.
This is in the form of an accessibility toolkit. This will mean that long after the project has finished, accessibility best practice will become second nature in the organisation rather than a second thought.
We’ll be keeping you updated with our progress in the project with weeknotes giving a quick over-view of what we’ve been working on and how you can get involved.