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 Paul's story.
Paul’s story - A university student with retinitis pigmentosa, meaning that he has no useful vision.
A university student with retinitis pigmentosa, meaning that he has no useful vision. Paul encounters numerous hurdles from travelling to university to getting the most out of his classes. Before getting to university, he has difficulties accessing the times for his bus as the online timetable is not accessible. After eventually arriving to university, Paul cannot locate his lecture room alone due to the student app having inaccessible directions and a lack of alternative signage on the building.
Due to these obstacles Paul is forced to wait for a guide to walk him to his lecture, which often makes him late. On many occasions, Paul has also been unable to follow along with the content in lectures as there are numerous visual examples that do not have alternative text or notes.
On one occasion, Paul discovers that the lecture has not been recorded, meaning that he cannot go over points he missed or revise for his exam. Paul’s friend Alex, who missed the lecture due to a doctor’s appointment, was also unable to catch up on missed content. By this point Paul feels very disheartened and unmotivated to attend any more of his classes due to the lack of accessible content.
He interprets this as his university not caring about students with additional or alternate requirements. That evening Paul shared his feelings with a friend who informed him of a recent story regarding a blind student who sued their university due to their lack of accessibility. Now armed with information on the new accessibility regulations, Paul is considering doing the same.
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.