An accessible and inclusive website

07 Aug, 2020

News

The primary aim of the DSS website is to present information in an accessible format, thereby delivering a rewarding and user-friendly experience.

From the outset, the planning and development approach of site design was directed mainly by accessibility concerns. Accessible design translates as a good design for everyone. Our aim was to make the DSS website as inclusive and readable as possible.

The DSS is a new service that will regulate and register decision support arrangements for people with decision-making capacity difficulties. Our service users could include, for example, people with intellectual disabilities, people with acquired brain injuries and people with age-related cognitive impairments. The DSS website has been designed to cater to users from these areas: low vision, deaf and hard of hearing, dyslexia, motor disabilities, users on the autistic spectrum and users of screen readers.

We learned from real world behaviour by observing, listening and consulting with the relevant stakeholders and organisations. We used data, analysis, usability testing, feedback and research to drive our decision-making to try and find the right balance, making compromises that best suit the users’ needs. Hence, we aim to provide the information that people want - not what we think they might want.

The website is first and foremost orientated to the key stakeholders and users of the site. We developed personas - a collective profile - of people who might use the service, characters created to represent the characteristics and behaviours of a segment of our target audience. We created user personas by putting a personal human face on our abstract data that helped to develop relevant and compelling content as we empathised with the person. By thinking about the needs of these personas, we were better able to satisfy and address our website users’ needs.

We developed a prototype which we tested with users and then used their feedback to respond and adapt the design to make it more user-friendly.

It is essential that the new DSS website provides information in a friendly and easily-accessible way. It includes using things like good colour contrasts, legible font sizes and linear layouts, a consistent approach keeping content short, clear and simple. We will only use images and diagrams to support the text.

The website uses plain English, simple sentences and bullets. We avoided using figures of speech, idioms, and legal and medical language that is difficult to understand. There are also many new words, terms and roles defined as part of the 2015 Act (e.g. decision support arrangement, decision supporter, relevant person etc.), and we have tried to explain and minimise this technical language as much as possible. To further assist, we developed a ‘key terms’ page that helps to explain, in plain English, what each term means.

We make buttons descriptive and we have attempted to move away from vague and unpredictable instructions such as ‘click here’ or ‘read more’. We explain exactly where the link is going so before the user clicks on it, they know what information they will arrive at when they click the link, making it much more accessible. For example, we might say ‘click here for information on the different types of decision making agreements that are available’.

We used W3C Accessibility Standards - international web standards - in designing the website and tested it against the detailed guidelines and established rules for testing to ensure the website conformed to those accessibility standards.

In summary, we have designed the DSS website with the objective of making it work for all people in all circumstances. We welcome feedback on our website, and if there are any improvements that you believe we could make, please let us know by emailing dss@mhcirl.ie or by using our feedback form.

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