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 Nigel's story.
Nigel’s story - Has no useful vision and some residual hearing with the assistance of hearing aids.
Recently Nigel has been experiencing episodes of extreme tiredness, so he decides to go for a blood test at his local GP surgery. He wants to collect his results in person in case he is asked to come in to see a doctor.
However, this is not able to happen as Nigel is unable to access the surgery during open times or book an appointment online with the help of his screen reader technology. Additionally, he faces problems when phoning in. A few weeks pass and Nigel’s results were delivered in the post.
Unfortunately, he had to wait for his sister, who was not due to visit for two more days, to read his results to him. The letter revealed that Nigel needed to see a doctor, which was of course information he would have preferred to keep private.
Nigel felt disparaged by this as the option for him to inform his sister of the news in his own time was taken away from him. Already aware of the Accessible Information Standard and Regulations, Nigel knew that the GP surgery should have sent him the results in the format that he previously requested, especially as his requirements are stated in his records. As a result, Nigel is actively seeking legal advice to get justice for the service he received.
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.