Accessibility & Online Customer Service Delivery

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Information about Accessibility & Online Customer Service Delivery

Published on March 7, 2009

Author: zoel22



The benefits of accessible websites to the success of online customer service devlivery.

Accessibility & online customer service delivery 12 September 2006

Internet age The Internet has led to substantial cultural transformation Retail Banking Leisure activities Government services Social interaction

Internet access Internet Access in the UK 29 million adults 64% of the population (86% of these have home access) UK adults : average 2 hours a day online 12% of homes have broadband access – growing

And yet…cause for concern Disability Rights Commission Research Serious accessibility and usability problems in over 1000 main service websites in the UK 81% of websites tested failed to meet basic (WAI – A) accessibility standards Over 45% of problems encountered by disabled users of websites would not be detected by the automated test check points

UK snapshot 10 million registered disabled people in the UK 10 million potential customers People with disabilities don’t live in a vacuum Wide sphere of influence

Accessibility – broadest sense Blind, visually impaired and colour blind Impaired mobility Cognitive disability & / or learning disabilities English not a first language Hardware, software, bandwidth limitations All impact on access

Limits potential Inaccessible websites and other forms of electronic information: Limits universality Human potential of web based technologies

Web evolution – phase 1 1st GENERATION – provision (information and services) eGovernment push : Provision of electronic delivery of priority services rapid online service provision in line with set targets

Web evolution – phase 2 2nd GENERATION – refocus • eService Take-up – service provision and getting people to use them • Accessibility – maximising access to and reach of services • Usability – getting people to use online services by making them easy and intuitive to use.

Disused After all, what good is provision of services without take-up of services? • Underused • Waste of space

Consequences If you ignore the potential of accessible websites: Lose out on potential revenue Limit your organisation’s effective communication Miss the opportunity for efficiency savings Have negative publicity – sector reports Be at risk of litigation

Accessibility makes sense It makes sense… Ethical Sense – age of corporate social responsibility Legal Sense - DDA Economic sense – maximises customer service delivery success

Experience matters! Growing realisation Success of online service delivery & take-up is dependent on user experience.

Experience matters! Websites that are: Unintuitive Difficult to navigate Complicated Unclear Failure or at least not realising their potential

e-Accessibility Movement for change…. Legislation – DDA – legal framework Government Recognition – 2007 Commission Equality & Human Rights Awareness – industry participation in conferences Standards – Launch of PAS 78 – Guide to Good Practice in Commissioning Accessible websites - March 2006

Awareness and action Step1 – Awareness Step 2 - Action

Hounslow web programme Ongoing commitment to achieving high standards of accessibility and usability. Effective: Communications Customer service delivery

Programme phases Key Phases Phase 1 – key features provision underpinned by compliant and well formed code Phase 2 – focus on engagement, inclusion and increased take-up by improving website usability & enhancing the user experience.

Approach Centres around: • Provision of assistive features and technologies • Effective project management of web development with accessibility/ usability principles built in – including the development of guidance standards • Training & Awareness • Ongoing accessibility processes • Ongoing usability processes

Assistive features/ technologies Key assistive features Compliant code – WAI AA Speech enabled Customisation options Text only Change contrast Adjustable text sizes Printer friendly formats

Change contrast example Key assistive features Compliant code – WAI AA Speech enabled Information availability options Text only Change contrast Adjustable text sizes Printer friendly formats

Browsealoud example

Phase 1 features cont’d… Access keys – enables navigation without a mouse Interpretive and descriptive tags for images General assistive features Various navigational options (main, breadcrumb etc..) Powerful search engine for information retrieval File sizes and file types

Project Management controls Web Project planning and definition • Clear technical specifications – including accessibility standards enshrined in: • Web standards for partner websites • Internal Web standards • Web writing style guide and CMS publishing guide

Training and awareness • Content author training • Staff/ Manager briefings Distribution of PAS 78 guidance – now free •

Accessibility optimisation Web Team regular activity: Accessibility optimisation and code compliance – checking/ fixing Tools used include: • Firefox html validator – instant checking • SiteMorse error reports • W3c markup validation service • Others…

Usability optimisation Web Team regular activity: • Optimising website navigation, presentation and layout • Usability audits and recommendations • Web performance and usage analysis • New stuff : eye tracking – eye movement detection

Phase 2 Engagement, inclusion through usability enhancement User testing integral to further development process Engagement Disability Forum participants Website usability and accessibility ‘health check’ audits Ongoing refinement and improvement of our website

Continuous process Website accessibility and usability requires commitment Continuous process of development

Carrots Accessibility helps achieve a high standard of online customer service provision by: Improving efficient in service delivery Increased capability to personalise service delivery Maximising the reach of web services and information Improving customer relations through inclusion

Stick And if the carrots are not convincing? then the stick is the DDA.

Thank you! Zoë Laycock Web Manager e:

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