Over the last few years there has been a steadily growing community supporting “accessible” and “inclusive” practices. These practices are aimed at making digital services we provide to staff and the public usable to all. In particular those that have additional access needs such as people with disabilities, or for those with little to no digital skills.
There are nearly 13.9 million disabled people in the UK and as of 2018, 5.3 million adults without the basic digital skills to complete everyday tasks. An overlap in these groups creates some of the most vulnerable people in our society, those who may rely most heavily on public services while also being most likely to face barriers to getting the support they need.
To support the Public Sector in delivering digital services that work for all citizens, the Government has passed into law the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018. This law enforces public sector organisations to proactively deliver accessible digital services to stringent standards, and to a series of deadlines that have either passed or culminate for websites on the 23rd September 2020. This gives public sector bodies less than 10 months to deliver a fully accessible digital estate and achieve legal compliance.
The purpose of the regulations is to encourage the development of more inclusive services that work for everyone. Below we have a typical real life user stories about the impact accessibility has on the lives of individuals. This is Mary's story.
Mary’s story - A single mother, looking after her son Tommy, who has physical and sensory disabilities.
Tommy’s condition requires him to have 24-hour care, which puts huge physical and time constraints on Mary. To get social care support for herself and Tommy, one day Mary decided to apply to be assessed by her local council. She faces a few difficulties doing so.
Mary is not confident using a computer and does not use the internet for personal tasks. She decides to purchase a smartphone to improve her online literacy and to complete the referral process. She finds that the wording is difficult to understand as it was not written in language familiar to her. Additionally, there were multiple attachments that she was required to download.
This made the process very confusing and frustrating for her – she wishes she could simply call someone for assistance. The following day Mary tells her neighbour about how much she has been struggling to get the support she deserves, and they inform her that due to the new laws about accessibility the local council’s website should have been simple to operate.
Following this conversation Mary discovers that by making a formal complaint and selling her story to her local paper she could make enough money to take care of herself and Tommy for a while. The idea of this becomes very attractive to her and she begins to make plans.
This content was provided by George Rhodes and Ben Watson, consultants at AllAble. George and Ben will be hosting our ‘Ensuring Public Sector Accessibility‘ on 25 February 2020. Join this interactive training course to find out ensure your organisation is complying with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018.