Case Studies : Web Accessibility

Web Accessibility

How we created a highly accessible website for Slough Borough Council

Accessibility is a critical feature of web presence particularly in the public sector. Accessibility is no longer merely an aspect of creative design but a complex multidimensional issue requiring competences ranging across technology and design. This case demonstrates Double Eye’s deep understanding of and competence in accessibility including audit, strategy, design, development and build. In addition it also addresses the need for web presence to be easily managed by the client themselves once the site is set up.

The Context

Slough Borough Council (SBC) had initiated a large-scale project to completely redevelop their e-government services provision. One of the requirements of the project was to completely redevelop their public website to the highest standards of service provision and quality laid down by central government. These central government standards and guidelines cover a number of key aspects of site design and content, including meta data, usability and accessibility. Double Eye was chosen to lead the project, which included content management, vendor selection, content strategy, design, development and deployment.

The Objectives

The objective of the project was to provide SBC with a state of the art web presence which is both easily manageable and meets the highest standards of UK public sector accessibility requirements and practices. This specifically included:

  • Ensuring that site pages satisfied all Priority 1 and 2 checklist items from the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 [1];
  • Ensuring that current best practices for web accessibility were followed;
  • Ensuring that the Content Management System (CMS) selected could maintain standards of accessible content over the long term.

The Process

Double Eye undertook a four stage process to deliver the project. This included:

  1. Vendor selection

    Requirements for the CMS were gathered and prioritised. These formed the criteria by which vendors and products were assessed. The ability of the various products to support recognised standards of accessibility and code was given a very high priority during the process, and those making the final short list were formally evaluated against these criteria.

  2. Design and development

    A ‘static’ site was first developed to allow for design to be evaluated and revised rapidly. Examples of each kind of page were designed and developed then assessed for compliance to accessibility and code standards. In some cases usability evaluations were carried out. Any changes needed were fed back into the design until the required levels of quality were achieved.Additional accessibility features were also developed at this stage. For instance, the SBC website includes tools on every page that allow users to increase or decrease the text size, and to display an easy to read ‘high contrast’ view of the page.

  3. Development of the final, scalable, system

    The next challenge was to implement a system that could be used by over 100 content developers, editors and managers within the authority and yet maintain consistent standards of accessibility across the site. This was achieved by:

    Ensuring that template code quality was maintained within the CMS;
    configuring the CMS so that the web site manager could monitor and amend new content;
    Implementing bespoke CMS functionality;
    Implementing tools to monitor and fix invalid HTML mark-up;
    Implementing tools to monitor accessibility;
    Providing in-depth training to core content development staff.

  4. Accessibility audit

    With the final solution developed and deployed, a formal accessibility audit was carried out to identify compliance to the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. An accessibility statement describing accessibility features and any current problems was also published on the site.

The Outcome

A key measure of success was that as a direct result of this project SBC, having been in the bottom 10%, moved into the top 10% of Local Authorities in the SiteMorse rating of UK government websites.

Other key benefits to Slough Borough Council were:

  • BBPI157 performance improvement:
    95% (from ~35%) compliance on provision of information;
  • 99% (from ~10%) compliance on provision of transactions.

  • All ‘Required’ National Priority Outcomes for Web Enablement achieved with ‘Green’, plus the majority of the ‘Good’ Outcomes also achieved with ‘Green’;
  • Strong, proactive, positive response from users.

Key Points

  • Accessibility is a key element of web presence for any organisation.
  • Achieving a high standard of accessibility requires a complex and diverse set of skills, competence and experience, which involves technology as well as creative design.
  • Automated ratings are useful but provide only a limited measure of accessibility.
  • Undertaking a full audit of accessibility is, therefore, an important factor to consider.
  • Proactive, positive response from users.
Warning: assert(): Assertion failed in /home/de_user/deploy/live/doubleeye-01/wp-content/themes/boldy/footer.php on line 1