Case study brief: Giving accessibility support and accreditation for Rushcliffe Borough Council
Rushcliffe Borough Council needed a cross-skilled team of accessibility evangelists to support them through the process of becoming Level AA compliant with the WCAG 2.1 Guidelines. With legislative regulations, in the form of the 2018 Public Sector Accessibility Regulations adding pressure, they needed their web estate to be accessibility compliant, and tasked HeX with the job.
HeX's vast public sector knowledge and experience made this case study unique
HeX’s team has had 15+ years working internally and externally with public sector organisations. We know all about the culture and challenges faced balancing budget and delivery, and this knowledge helped to form a bespoke solution around Rushcliffe’s accessibility requirements.
We implemented our Accessibility Model, with the view of providing audits, development support, training programmes and integrated planning.
Accessibility audit and accreditation activities
- Automated audit software scanning of websites.
- Manual user audit testing with assistive technology and devices.
- A technical review of the site, assessing codebase errors.
- Accessibility report detailing site accessibility enhancements, linking to the WCAG criterion.
- Accessibility consultancy giving demonstrations with the use of assistive technology and guidance on the site changes required.
- Digital accessibility accreditation
Long-standing delivery partner
HeX Productions and Rushcliffe Borough Council have been delivery partners for a number of years, initially involving an intranet delivery for internal staff members.
Since then, as Rushcliffe has focused more on the web, and how to upscale digitally as a local authority, HeX has been the port of call for support and guidance. Our integration with the teams at Rushcliffe, as well as senior stakeholders, has given us the opportunity to create a culture of understanding for accessibility, and one that is championed from the top down.
With pressure mounting from the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Apps) Accessibility Regulations that were revealed in 2018, and due to come in force in 2020, Rushcliffe knew it was the right thing to do, to implement accessibility across their large web estate.
Conducting initial audits
Auditing a web estate is an essential part of the process; allowing us to get a better idea of how content is uploaded, and the overall structure of the system. Having worked with Rushcliffe prior to this, we had a good idea on how their system worked. However, we knew that feeding back to the Communications and IT team about the current level of accessibility was an important part of the auditing process.
There are a number of steps involved with our full auditing process. First, we use automated tools in order to identify and create an initial report of where accessibility issue are. Our technical and content specialists then run through the digital environment, identifying key template issues and reoccurring elements. These are tested using keyboard tabbing, screen reading software and other forms of simulated technology.
As part of the auditing process, we provided the Rushcliffe teams with the following:
- An-depth analysis of manually and software identified accessibility errors on a page-by-page basis.
- A list of best practices and an outline of specific areas of improvement.
- Identification of areas currently not compliant with WCAG 2.1 Guidelines.
- Image capturing areas where these issues occur.
- An explanation of why each error is a problem.
- A summary of the level of compliance.
As an agency, we want the public sector to commit to becoming accessible. All of our accessibility audits are provided in plain English, and with demonstrations. This is no different to how we worked with Rushcliffe’s teams; we ensured each accessibility error was explained, and the importance demonstrated to the Communication and IT team.
Pursuing this approach allowed Rushcliffe to adopt the better practice in the future, allowing them to understand the areas that needed improvement, and how they could improve this themselves, or using our support package.
Using agile methodologies to deliver our projects, we are able to implement an effective and efficient solution to fix the accessibility errors on every site, getting it to a stage where it can be accredited by Shaw Trust Accessibility Services.
Working with Shaw Trust directly, we are specialists in implementing accessibility changes, and in turn, streamlining the entire accreditation approach, making it faster and more effective for Shaw Trust knowing that we have worked on it prior to their user tests.
Our developers understand accessibility priorities and can fix any accessibility issue that could jeopardise compliance with Level AA standards of WCAG. We also understand 3rd party systems, and actively encourage a change of products if the current product negatively affects the digital environment’s accessibility.
Future digital accreditation
As principle delivery partners with Shaw Trust Accessibility Services, we are able to offer every website an accreditation, alongside monthly support from HeX Productions.
Our ethos is to provide knowledge and help teams thrive; allowing organisations to maintain their assets at WCAG 2.1 compliance.
We are able to support and guide Rushcliffe Borough Council along their accreditation journey. As of March 2020, they are recognised accredited by the Shaw Trust Accessibility Services. We continue to support the team at Rushcliffe and are incredibly pleased to be supporting a local authority on their accessibility journey and beyond.