How to Ensure Digital Accessibility in the Public Sector

Piers Kelly
February 3, 2023

In an era where digital technologies shape our daily lives, ensuring digital accessibility has become paramount, particularly in the public sector. From government websites and online services to communication platforms, equitable access for all citizens is not just a matter of convenience—it's a matter of inclusivity and social responsibility. In this blog, we will delve into the key topics and focus areas for digital accessibility in the public sector, ensuring that no one is left behind in this increasingly digital world.

Digital Accessibility by Design

Designing products and services with digital accessibility in mind from the outset has the potential to create user-friendly experiences that are inclusive of everyone, regardless of their abilities. Digital services should account for all levels of user ability and maturity to make sure that everyone can access and benefit from the latest technologies.

When designing products and services with digital accessibility in mind, it is important to consider the unique needs of different user groups, including those with disabilities, elderly individuals, and those with low digital literacy. This can include features such as high-contrast text, adjustable font sizes, and the ability to navigate using keyboard commands.

Do Our Digital Services Account for All Levels of User Ability and Maturity?

Unfortunately, many digital services do not account for the full spectrum of user abilities and maturity. This can result in frustration and exclusion for those who are unable to use the technology effectively. For example, websites with complex navigation or small text can be difficult for individuals with visual impairments to use, while videos with no captions or audio descriptions can make it difficult for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to access the content.

To ensure that all users can benefit from digital services, designers and developers must put digital accessibility at the forefront of their design process. This can involve regular testing and user feedback to make sure that the services meet the needs of all users, as well as adhering to established accessibility standards and guidelines, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

What Measures are Being Implemented to End Digital Poverty Once and For All?

Digital poverty refers to the inability of certain individuals or communities to access and benefit from digital technologies. This can be due to a range of factors, including lack of access to technology, low digital literacy, and affordability.

To end digital poverty, various measures are being implemented, such as government-led initiatives to increase access to technology and digital skills training, as well as private sector initiatives to create affordable technology solutions. Additionally, non-profit organisations are working to bridge the digital divide by providing access to technology and digital skills training to those who need it most.

 

Innovating under Adversity

In order to successfully innovate for accessibility, it is important to shift organisational wide mindsets and place support for long-term gains over short-term cuts. This can involve making digital accessibility a priority in product development and design processes, as well as ensuring that digital accessibility is integrated into the overall corporate strategy.

To achieve this, organisations must invest in digital accessibility training and resources, as well as build strong partnerships with disability organisations and other stakeholders to gain a better understanding of the needs and perspectives of individuals with disabilities. Additionally, organisations must be willing to take risks and experiment with new approaches to create truly accessible products and services in the public sector.

How Can Local Authorities Attract Partnerships and Suppliers to Invest in their Digital Innovations and Collaborate Effectively?

Local authorities play a crucial role in driving digital innovation and addressing the needs of their communities. To attract partnerships and suppliers to invest in their digital innovations, local authorities must be clear about their goals and priorities, and demonstrate a commitment to making their digital services accessible to everyone.

Effective collaboration requires clear communication and a shared understanding of the goals and priorities of all partners. To achieve this, local authorities must engage with their partners and suppliers, and encourage open dialogue and collaboration to ensure that everyone is working towards a common goal.

In conclusion, innovation that prioritises digital accessibility has the potential to create digital services that are inclusive and user-friendly for everyone, regardless of their abilities. This requires a shift in organisational mindset, investment in digital accessibility training and resources, and strong partnerships with stakeholders, including disability organisations and suppliers. By designing products and services with digital accessibility in mind, and implementing measures to end digital poverty, we can ensure that everyone can access and benefit from the latest technologies.

Furthermore, local authorities play a crucial role in driving digital innovation and addressing the needs of their communities. By attracting partnerships and suppliers and collaborating effectively, local authorities and the wider public sector can ensure that their digital services are accessible and inclusive for all.

Join the public sector technology community at the DigiGov Expo 2024, where we discuss why innovation should focus on accessibility in more detail. Register your place and have your voice heard.