Why accessibility is important to us

My name is Alexander Hearn and I’m the UX and Design Lead for the poole.gov.uk redesign project.

For me, designing with accessibility in mind isn’t just about ensuring people with disabilities can access our site.

There are many more benefits that can improve the user experience and reduce costs simply by:

  • making things easier to find
  • removing the clutter
  • having content that is easier to understand
  • ensuring the site works for all devices and browsers.

This means that, regardless of ability, everyone can navigate it, understand it, and use it successfully.

What we have done so far

We have done a lot of research into how we can make the new poole.gov.uk accessible to as many people as possible.

The most important lessons that we have learnt are:

  • we should always start with accessibility, it can’t be an afterthought
  • we need to understand how real people with disabilities use our site
  • we should be working with local charities such as Dorset Blind Association
  • we should make sure we choose the appropriate formats for documents
  • we need to understand how important visual design is, for example; font, colour contrast, buttons, etc.

Simple eh?… well it’s all well and good making sure we tick the right accessibility boxes. We have standards provided by Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 which we can follow to make sure our site is compliant.

However, this only gives us so much. We need to understand how real people use our site.

User testing for accessibility

Testing with actual users (both able-bodied and disabled) will help us identify user needs and help us focus on the right areas.

This is where you can get involved.

In particular we are looking for:

  • blind/partially sighted, screen-reader users
  • screen magnification users
  • deaf British Sign Language users
  • keyboard-only users
  • speech-recognition software users
  • users with dyslexia
  • users with Aspergers or autism.

If you want to help us test our site, please email us at webmaster@poole.gov.uk.

Alexander Hearn, UX and Design Lead

2 thoughts on “Why accessibility is important to us

  1. lewcee42 February 12, 2016 / 4:43 pm

    I am a PC-Keyboard user, not disabled, but OAP, somewhat stroppy when BoP Pages obfuscate & don’t give me what I want….do I fit as a tester or not, as your criteria are not clear as to whether you want able bodied users or not.(Please). I.e., not always stroppy.

    • boroughofpoole February 12, 2016 / 7:26 pm

      Hi, you would be perfect to help us test our site. Accessibility is all about making the site work for everyone. Keep an eye on this blog for opportunities to get involved in the near future or email us your details and we will contact you directly.

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