Engaging with the Digital Accessibility Community

Further & Higher Education Digital Accessibility Working Group (FHEDAWG) – The Further / Higher Education Digital Accessibility Working Group is a group made up of many Universities and Colleges across the UK who have come together to share best practice and agree common stances on accessibility across the sector. The group includes representatives from (Kent, UCL), GDS, PolicyConnect, AbilityNet, Jisc and UCISA. It has the following objectives:

  1. Create model accessibility statements.
  2. Collate guidance and frameworks on how to meet standards.
  3. Provide good practice guidance in areas where the government’s official guidance is not sufficiently detailed for the education sector.
  4. Liaise with government and regulators to promote outputs and press government for better guidance.

Digital Accessibility Regulations JISCMAIL – email forum can be used to find out about the recent developments and join discussions with colleagues in the universities and the public sector.

Engage local Libraries services on digital inclusion and building digital skills – Libraries may have digital skills training already going on in the form of drop in support or volunteer digital buddies schemes which may help people at Libraries or at their homes to learn basic digital skills. See what can be done through collaboration to support these initiatives and help expand them to support digital skills growth. For example in Kent we are having discussions with the University to see how the Libraries digital buddies schemes can be included into employability volunteering opportunities.

Work with NHS to help improve patient communication services for Health and Social care –  Universities and local authorities can work with NHS organisations to share and embed better accessibility practices.

Engage with LocalGov Digital – If you are a local government organisation Join the Local gov digital slack where there is now an accessibility channel where many discuss the regulations and supporting topics.

More you could do

Local Digital Declaration

The Local Digital Declaration is a Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) initiative that affirms the collective ambition for local public services in the internet age, and commitments to realising it. The aim is to utilise technology as an enabler rather than a barrier to service improvements, and create services that are a delight for citizens and officials to use.

All of the Kent development of expertise, improvement of internal practices and leadership/support of the wider community is going to the fulfilment of the commitments outlined in the digital declaration particularly:

  • Have visible, accessible leaders throughout the organisation (publishing blogs, tweeting and actively participating in communities of practice), and support those who champion this Declaration to try new things and work in the open.
  • Support our workforce to share ideas and engage in communities of practice by providing the space and time for this to happen.
  • Publish our plans and lessons learnt (for example on blogs, Localgov Digital slack; at sector meetups), and talk publicly about things that could have gone better (like the GOV.UK incident reports blog).
  • Try new things, from new digital tools to experiments in collaboration with other organisations.
  • Research how to reuse existing user research, service design, common components, and data and technology standards before starting to design or procure something new.
  • Share knowledge about digital projects where there is an opportunity for potential reuse or collaboration with others.
  • Take inspiration and ideas from a wide range of sources, and participate individually in communities of practice and interest outside the organisation.

If your organisation is not already signed up to the Local Digital Declaration you should consider how your accessibility work feeds into your organisations wider digital strategy aims and whether you should be involved with the scheme and if you could apply for some of the occasional funding available through the declaration.

Disability Confident

The Disability Confident Employer mark is awarded by the Department of Work and Pensions to recognise employers who have agreed and been assessed to meet five commitments regarding the recruitment, employment, retention and career development of disabled people. The UK Government has made a commitment to halve the employment gap for disabled people.

The Disability Confident scheme is simple and accessible, offering advice and guidance, enabling employers to attract, recruit and retain disabled people, whilst demonstrating commitment, action and progression. Disability Confident replaces the Two Ticks – ‘Positive About Disabled People’ scheme.

If your organisation is not already considering or working towards becoming Disability Confident you should consider how your accessibility work feeds into your organisations wider Equality aims and whether you should be involved with the scheme.

Great Websites to visit

There are so many great organisations out there who focus on accessibility and who have a whole host of resources that you should look at. Listed below are some of our favourites.

Abilitynet – works to change the lives of disabled people by helping them to use digital technology at work, at home or in education.

Action on Hearing Loss (formerly the Royal National Institute of Deaf people) – the largest charity for people with hearing loss in the UK. From day-to-day-care, to practical information, to campaigning for a fairer world for people with hearing loss, and funding research to find a cure.

All Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technologies (APPGAT) – The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology aims to disseminate knowledge, generate debate and facilitate engagement on assistive technology amongst Members of both Houses of Parliament.

Business Disability Forum – Business Disability Forum is a not-for-profit membership organisation that seeks to make it easier and more rewarding to do business with and employ disabled people.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – The Equality and Human Rights Commission is Great Britain’s national equality body. Their job is to help make Britain fairer. They do this by safeguarding and enforcing the laws that protect people’s rights to fairness, dignity and respect. As a statutory non-departmental public body established by the Equality Act 2006, the Commission operates independently. They aim to be an expert and authoritative organisation that is a centre of excellence for evidence, analysis and equality and human rights law. They also aspire to be an essential point of contact for policy makers, public bodies and business. They use our unique powers to challenge discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and protect human rights.

Funka – Organisation that analyses, develops and educates in accessibility.

Government Digital Service (GDS) – department within the Cabinet Office that seeks to make things better for everyone by leading digital transformation.

International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) – Accessibility professionals from around the world come together to define, promote and improve the accessibility profession through networking, education and certification.

JISC – Have been working hard to provide guidance for the FHE sector. They run well-attended monthly online clinics and have a web area for hosting key outcomes and guidance.

Local Gov Digital – is an organisation for digital practitioners working in and around local government.

National Disability Authority (NDA) is the independent statutory body provides information and advice to the Government on policy and practice relevant to the lives of persons with disabilities.

Policy Connect – is a cross-party think tank. We improve people’s lives by influencing public policy. We collaborate with Government and Parliament – including through our APPGs – and across the public, private and third sectors to develop our policy ideas from research, facts, data and consensus.

Royal National Institute of Blind people (RNIB) – the UK’s leading sight loss charities and the largest community of blind and partially sighted people. 

UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF) – set standards and promote best practice for accessible documents in the UK. They also work with international bodies to represent UK interests in the setting of accessible document standards worldwide.

WebAIM – organisation with a mission is to empower organisations to make their web content accessible to people with disabilities.