Public Sector Bodies accessibility audit

Role: Project lead and subject matter expert

The challenge

In 2018 new regulation came into force, requiring the websites and mobile applications of all Public Sector Bodies to adhere to a high accessibility standard. Put simply, it means making sure that these things can be used by as many people as possible regardless of whether they have impaired vision, motor difficulties, cognitive impairments or learning disabilities and deafness or impaired hearing.

Crown Commercial Service is an organisation with just under 40 individual digital products and services, ranging from custom built brochure websites, through to large and complex proprietary systems. Each one of those needed to be reviewed and triaged before an in depth analysis could be performed.

What i did

Assessing the size of the task

Assessing the landscape of digital products within a large organisation is never simple nor straight forward; things are made, launched and forgotten about. Product owners change jobs and legacy systems sit around collecting dust.

The first thing i did was to map out all of the different products and assess;

  • what it did and who it’s users were
  • who was responsible for it within the organisation
  • when it was launched
  • who built it
  • rough guess of size and complexity

Finally I performed a rudimentary accessibility test, to gauge what level the product was at.

A snapshot of the different products that were analysed

I quickly realised that documenting all of this information had huge value across the organisation, especially to the Tech Ops and marketing team so i created and shared an interactive Miro board with them so they could make use of the information too.

Preparing for the audit

Moving the products into a kanban board, i was able to start triaging them based on their compliance level and importance to daily operations. This was to help the delivery manager understand the priorities and make sure that the wider team could review and assess progress once the audit was in progress.

Given my knowledge of the accessibility guidelines, and having worked in digital agencies for many years, i was closely involved in the process of awarding the work to an agency who would eventually perform the in depth audit. This involved reviewing the responses to the procurement, researching their backgrounds and making sure we’d be working with people who demonstrated the necessary knowledge and experience.

Improving future services

Whilst having non-compliant services is not unusual within government organisations, i was keen to ensure we got much better at this. I did this by;

  • running accessibility workshops to upskill colleagues and build awareness about our obligations
  • helping colleagues with access needs to write blog posts on the staff intranet about their experiences, to build an understanding that was closer to home
  • working with the Internal Sourcing teams to ensure that all future contracts with new suppliers specifically stated that all digital services must adhere to the WCAG 2.1 AA standards