As we now have a DDaT accessibility specialist in DesignOps and, accessibility being a core objective for Digital, Data and Technology, we are reviewing our Accessibility manual.

This is part of a larger accessibility project, to explore how we can fully support the needs of those building and designing DfE services that everyone can use.

Background and problems we’re looking to solve

We started a discovery to look into:

  • what we know
  • what we don’t know
  • who are our users, and
  • what the problem area of accessibility guidance and building accessible services in DfE looks like

We know that service teams don’t always have the required skills, awareness, capability or access to the right support to deliver accessible products and services in DfE.

This means that people may experience barriers to using DfE products and services, and the department is being unnecessarily exposed to legal, financial and programme risk. So we’re exploring this problem area.

Things we’ve looked at so far include:

  • exploring the current landscape of accessibility in DfE - where services and projects currently are in terms of considering accessibility and usability, and where the pain points and gaps are
  • guidance and training teams need to consider accessibility from the start of a project
  • what makes services usable as well as accessible
  • data we have around accessible services in the department
  • data into what to call the manual, (looking at Google Trends and across government departments) as it will include more than accessibility guidance
  • feedback from DfE’s accessibility awareness week

Examples of user needs for accessibility

As a delivery manager,
I need to know when to book an accessibility audit,
So that we can act on results before we go to public beta

As a product manager,
I need to prioritise issues from an accessibility audit,
So that I can understand the risk

As someone in a service team,
I need to know what my responsibilities are for accessibility and inclusive design,
So that I do not exclude people with disabilities or who use assistive tech

What we're doing now

We’ve started a list of user needs based on what we know so far.

We’re conducting user research across all user-centred design roles in DfE which will help to validate our user needs and confirm and find pain points we can address.

We’re also researching what each DDaT profession needs to know - or do - at each phase of delivery in terms of accessible and usable design.

This work will inform the design of one authoritative source of accessibility guidance for DfE service teams.

We’re speaking to accessibility experts both inside and outside government, considering what can we learn, what can we test, and how we address any gaps.

We’re also considering how we can measure this:

  • through service assessment outcomes
  • accessibility audit report outputs
  • ongoing feedback from user research
  • identifying that accessibility tools are being used, and
  • testing is being done in products and services within delivery teams

Decorative image

Screenshot of 2 example sketches of possible designs for the accessibility manual

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Design Ops Accessibility