Usability, accessibility and user experience – innovation

The brief

CSS were hired as accessibility consultants to ensure that the Department for Education’s website was accessible and compliant with WCAG guidelines by gaining accreditation to AA level.

The background

The Equality Act 2010 states that all government departments’ online services should be accessible to all users, irrespective of any impairment that they have. The level of accessibility across the Department for Education’s online services was very poor, meaning, at best, that some users had a frustrating experience of the website and, at worst, that some users could not get access at all. This directly contravened the law set out in the Equality Act.

We were asked to ensure that the department’s corporate website was accessible and to gain accreditation through an independent specialist organisation.

What we did

We conducted a full audit of the department’s website to define a list of actions needed to prepare the website for submission for accreditation. We worked with the development team to address all issues and then worked closely with Shaw Trust – an independent organisation who specialise in accessibility online – to assess the site and then implement any requirements needed to achieve their AA compliance accreditation certificate.

How our approach was innovative

  • by addressing the majority of issues before submission, we saved time and effort throughout the assessment process
  • through Shaw Trust, we worked directly with a user group who had a broad range of impairments, so we not only ‘ticked the boxes’, but we also implemented real-world changes that improved the experience for impaired and non-impaired users
  • we created an accessibility checklist from the knowledge gained during the process to enable administrators and editors of the website to maintain a high level of accessibility

How this benefited the client

The department achieved AA compliance from Shaw Trust allowing them to display the compliance certificate on the website.

  • the department’s website not only improved for impaired users, but also non-impaired users, as well by using simple best practice techniques for delivering web content
  • the department’s website became one of very few government websites that was fully complaint (with evidence) to AA level and in many cases, AAA compliant as well

Referee details are available on request

Got a question?

Call Nick Spence on 01486 608224