Main Report: Word (2012)
State your commitment to providing accessible services. Do this in a document such as your:
Your commitment should cover customer services, buildings, and information. Make sure that senior managers endorse your commitment and name the staff members who are responsible for putting that commitment into practice. Put that document in your building where your customers will see it. Put it on your website too.
Make sure that your Customer Charter or service statement tells your customers:
Make sure that you have a procedure for:
Tips for committing to providing accessible services
Resources for services for customers with disabilities
Employment and income
Staff who have attended disability equality training will be able to interact more confidently and more effectively with people who have disabilities. Remember that staff will need an ongoing programme of disability equality training. Disability equality training courses should be backed up by the development of written policies setting out the organisation’s commitment to providing accessible services. All staff should be able to access those policies, and the organisation should monitor those policies to assess their impact.
The training can be delivered:
Look for a trainer who developed their training course after consulting people with disabilities.
Suggested curriculum for disability equality training
Tips for providing disability equality training to staff
The NDA is not responsible for the content of other websites.
Your organisation should consult customers with disabilities about projects that will affect them.
Here are 10 essential elements for effectively consulting people with disabilities:
The NDA’s “Ask Me’ Guidelines for Effective Consultation” publication has straightforward advice for consulting people with disabilities, including:
Structure each meeting properly:
After the consultation, tell the participants what your organisation decided and how that decision will affect the project.
Tips for consulting customers with disabilities
The Equality Authority’s Guidelines for Equal Status Policies in Enterprises defines an Equal Status Policy as a statement of organisational commitment to Equality, diversity and non discrimination for customers or service users from across the nine grounds covered by the Equality legislation.
Develop your Equal Status Policy to make sure that all of your customers and staff know their legal rights to equal treatment. Consult customers, including those with disabilities, to get their views on an Equal Status Policy before you start working on it.
In your Equal Status Policy, state:
Display the Equal Status Policy to your customers in your public buildings and on your websites.
You could integrate questions like those into existing surveys and questionnaires.
Provide reasonable accommodation for customers with disabilities
The Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2011 say that service providers should do whatever is reasonable to accommodate a person with a disability whose disability prevents them from accessing that service. The Equality Authority have a Guide to the Equal Status Acts 2000–2008. Make sure that your staff:
Let customers know that your organisation can and will accommodate them, by:
Tips for developing an Equal Status Policy
Section 27 of the Disability Act 2005 requires the head of a public body to ensure that services provided and goods supplied to the public body are accessible to people with disabilities, unless that would not be practicable, would be too expensive, or would cause an unreasonable delay. Here is the text of Section 27:
Here are some steps to help you to conform to Section 27 of the Disability Act 2005:
The NDA’s Centre for Excellence in Universal Design has an IT Procurement Toolkit for organisations who wish to buy accessible hardware or software.
Tips for considering accessibility when procuring
The Department of the Taoiseach defines a Customer Charter as a short statement describing the level of service a customer is entitled to expect when dealing with a Public Service organisation.
Base your Customer Charter on the Principles of Quality Customer Service from the Department of the Taoiseach. Your Customer Charter should state:
Make sure that your staff record, monitor, and review complaints.Consult customers with disabilities and disability groups, to make sure that the Customer Charter addresses their needs.
To make sure that no customers are prevented from contacting your organisation, provide a number of different methods of communication such as:
Where practical, your services should not cost a customer with a disability more than they cost a customer without a disability.
Make sure your staff understand how the Customer Charter affects their work.
Promote your Customer Charter on your website and in your brochures, buildings, staff communications, and policy documents.
Tips for including accessibility in a Customer Charter
Section 26 of the Disability Act 2005 says:
Each head of a public body […] shall authorise at least one of his or her officers (referred to in this act as “access officers”) to provide or arrange for and co-ordinate the provision of assistance and guidance to persons with disabilities in accessing its services.
Some public bodies appoint one access officer to help customers with disabilities to access their services, buildings, and information. Some public bodies appoint one access officer to help customers with disabilities to access their services, another access officer to help customers with disabilities to access their buildings, and another access officer to help customers with disabilities to access their information. Choose the model that best suits your customers’s needs and your staff’s expertise.
Section 26 (2) of the National Disability Authority’s Code of Practice on Accessibility of Public Services and Information Provided by Public Bodies says:
Each public body is required to have at least one officer authorised to act in the capacity of “access officer”. That officer is responsible, where appropriate, for providing or arranging for and coordinating assistance and guidance to persons with disabilities accessing the services provided by that body.
A public body can achieve this by:
Access officers may need training to make sure that they know how to help customers with disabilities to access services, buildings, or information. Very few companies offer specific “access officer training” in Ireland. You should search the web for providers. The National Disability Authority do not recommend any private companies.
An access team can help an organisation to improve the accessibility of its services, buildings, and information, by:
An effective access team will:
Tips for appointing an Access Officer and Access Team
Consult the NDA Access Officer Guidance for Public Bodies for further information
To provide a good service to customers with disabilities, just ask them what they need and how you can help.
Consider how you can change your services to make them more accessible to everybody. Also, consider the types of assistance that you will need to arrange on request.
Be polite to customers with disabilities
Help customers who have difficulty in remembering and concentrating
Help customers with intellectual disabilities
Help customers with physical disabilities
Help customers with hearing difficulties
Help customers who have sight difficulties or are blind
Help customers who are Deafblind
Help customers with breathing difficulties
Help customers with speech difficulties
Help customers who are anxious or depressed
Tips for making your information more accessible
Audit your building
Get an accessibility expert to audit your building’s accessibility every 3 years, or more regularly if necessary. You could ask a colleague who is very familiar with one of these documents to audit your building's accessibility, or you could find an expert outside your organisation:
That will give you prioritised advice about accessibility problems in your building and practical advice on how to solve those problems. A good accessibility expert will often be able to suggest affordable solutions. The National Disability Authority’s Guidelines for Access Auditing of the Built Environment describes the structure of an access audit report that is comprehensive and useful. You can ask an accessibilty expert to use that structure for your report. As soon as possible after the audit, develop an implementation plan for addressing each issue that the report identifies, according to the issues’ priorities.
Develop an Access Handbook
The National Disability Authority’s Access Handbook Template defines an Access Handbook as an internal document for the use of management, maintenance personnel and new staff; and which all staff should be aware of. It says the purpose of an Access Handbook is to provide a simple way of listing and explaining the features and facilities of a building, which must be maintained and/or improved in order to ensure access for everyone. Develop and Access Handbook that includes:
Staff who work in the relevant areas should refer to—and update—your Access Handbook while working.
Maintaining accessibility in buildings
Outside the building
Make sure that parking spaces for people with disabilities are accessible. Check:
Ramps and steps
If any public service areas have slopes that are steeper than 1:20, make sure that both steps and ramps are available, and that they are correctly designed.
Steps and lifts
Avoid putting steps within a floor in a building, where possible. Where steps are necessary, provide a ramp or platform lift as appropriate.
Provide accessible lifts in all new buildings that have more than one floor.
Make sure that the lifts are designed to best practice guidelines.
Check the lifts’ operation regularly.
Keep the lifts clear.
Corridors and doors
Public buildings should have signs to let your customers understand where they need to go. The signs should:
Reception areas and waiting rooms
Public service reception areas and waiting rooms should be designed, and maintained, to best practice guidance.
Provide correctly designed seats. A mixture of types and sizes of seats is best. Some customers may need to use arm-rests, and some may find arm-rests awkward.
Provide an induction loop system in at least one accessible meeting room.
Intercoms, queuing systems, ticket offices, information desks
Consider how you will inform customers that they are next in line. Remember that some customers might not be able to:
Plan the location, output, and language of your intercoms, queuing systems, ticket offices, or information desks carefully.
If your intercom, queuing system, ticket office, or information desk is inaccessible to some of your customers, your staff can help by speaking—or giving written information—to customers.
If you provide toilets for the public, provide toilets that customers with disabilities can use. Follow best practice guidance carefully.
Provide an alarm system in your accessible toilets, and test it regularly to make sure that a member of staff will help somebody in an emergency.
Make sure that accessible toilets are not used for storing cleaning equipment, deliveries, or anything else.
Provide sanitary bins in accessible toilets, and put them where they will not obstruct wheelchair users.
The light in your public buildings should be distributed evenly. There should be no large variations in lighting levels and the light should not be too bright or too dark. Avoid glossy, shiny and polished surface finishes and keep reflections, shadows, and glare to a minimum.
Use differences in colour and colour intensity to create visual contrast. That will help customers with vision impairments to:
BS 8300:2009+A1:2010 Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people. Code of practice has information about visual contrast.
Tips for making your buildings accessible
Plan to get everybody, including customers with disabilities and staff with disabilities, to safety if there is an emergency. Review and improve your:
Regularly review your evacuation procedures and safety statement.
Make fire procedure instructions available to all staff and visitors. Make sure that those instruction are in formats and a language that each person can understand. Those instructions should include:
Make sure you have an emergency evacuation plan recorded in your Safety Statement.
Personal Emergency Egress Plans
Provide Personal Emergency Egress Plans (PEEP) for staff and regular visitors as necessary. Use the PEEP template from the National Disability Authority’s Safe Evacuation for All publication. Review the PEEPs every 6 months and whenever there is a relevant change in the building, service, or evacuation plan.
Carry out evacuation drills at least twice a year, and include everybody in the drills. Identify any potential problems, prioritise them, and plan to solve them.
Make sure that all ground floor exit routes are accessible and that the area outside the exit is accessible too.
Provide both visual and auditory alarms in the building.
Provide and maintain emergency equipment as necessary.
Place emergency equipment no more than 1200mm above floor level. This includes:
Inspect all emergency equipment regularly.
Make sure that all fire signs are maintained and comply with international standards
Lifts, evacuation chairs, and safety zones
For each lift in your building, clearly indicate whether people can use it in emergency situations.Don’t assume that using a lift in an emergency is not an option; get an expert to help you to assess all of the options that would be available to people with disabilities in an emergency, including using lifts.
Provide evacuation chairs and appropriate training for staff. Remember that some people with disabilities cannot use evacuation chairs and will need another option.
If there are refuge areas in your building, clearly indicate them. Get an expert to help you to assess which areas, if any, can be used as refuge areas. Make sure that each safety zone has:
Top tips for planning safe evacuation for all customers and staff
Consult customers with disabilities to find out:
Use clear, user-focused language. When you’re writing information for customers, try to use words that you would use if you were talking to a customer face-to-face. Don’t assume that your customers will understand the words that you use to describe your services; try to use your customers’ words instead. Train your staff on using clear language.
Publicise the alternative formats that you can provide information in. For example, customers who would like Easy-to-Read versions of your publications might not know that you can provide them.
Make sure that relevant staff know how to get alternative formats of information. For example, you probably don’t need to print Braille versions of your publications just in case your customers ask for them. However, you do need to know how to arrange a Braille version for a customer who asks for one. Use this “Alternative formats for public information” template to record contact details, costs, timeframes, and other information that your staff will need so that they can provide your organisation’s information in alternative formats when your customers ask for them. That will allow your staff to give informed and accurate information for customers, such as “We don’t have any Braille versions of that publication now, but we can get one for you by the end of next week”, or “We can produce large print versions of that report ourselves, so we’ll have one for you by the end of this week.”
Publicise a way that your customers can give you feedback about how your organisation communicates.
Develop an Accessible Information Policy
Develop and publicise an Accessible Information Policy that says that your organisation:
Your Accessible Information Policy should also have:
The Public Appointments Service have a good example of an Accessible Information Policy.
The Citizens Information Board produced “Accessible information for all” guidelines in 2009.
Present information clearly
Irish Sign Language
When you publicise a public event, say that you will provide Irish Sign Language interpreters or real-time captioning if customers ask for them. Remember that some customers who need Irish Sign Language interpreters might not know that you will provide them.
Say how much notice you will need to arrange an interpreter. For example, you could say, “If you have accessibility requirements, please tell us at least 3 weeks before the conference. We need 3 weeks to arrange services such as sign language interpreters.”
You should have a policy that sets out procedures for your staff and Sign Language Interpreters, including the need for the interpreters to use an appropriate confidentiality policy when necessary.
“Easy-to-Read” is different to plain English. “Easy-to-Read” documents are designed for people with intellectual disabilities, people who can’t read well, and people whose first language is not English.
The Accessible Information Working Group, made up of Speech and Language Therapists who work with adults with intellectual disabilities in Ireland, published Make it Easy: A guide to preparing Easy to Read Information to describe how to create an “Easy-to-Read” document or leaflet.
The National Disability Authority’s Code of Practice on Accessibility of Public Services and Information provided by Public Bodies — Easy to read edition is a good example of an “Easy-to-Read” document.
If you need to create an “Easy-to-Read” document but have never created one, consider asking an expert to help you. Also, consider asking people from your target audience to test your document before you publish it.
Public computers and kiosks
Some organisations, such as libraries and universities, provide computers for their customers to use. For example, customers can read websites in public libraries.
Some organisations, such as transport providers, provide kiosks that their customers can use. For example, customers can get tickets for trains, buses, and trams from kiosks.
Some customers with vision impairments or motor impairments might not be able to use a mouse or trackball. Some customers with vision impairments might not be able to to read information from a screen, and some customers with hearing impairments might not be able to perceive audio output from a computer. To make public computers and kiosks accessible to customers with disabilities, make sure that:
If your organisation provide public computers, make sure that they conform to the priority 1 guidelines from the NDA’s Guidelines for Public Access Terminals Accessibility. Audit your public computers’ and kiosks’ conformance to the NDA’s Guidelines for Public Access Terminals Accessibility. There are a lot of factors involved in making sure that a public computer or kiosk is accessible, so get an expert to help if necessary. After the audit, write a plan for improving the accessibility of the public computers and kiosks.
If you can’t make your public computers or kiosks more accessible, make sure that customers can very easily find an alternative way to access the service that the public computers or kiosks provide. For example, make sure that a member of staff is available to provide tickets if your ticket kiosks have accessibility limitations. Consider alternative solutions, such text messages or emails.
Tips for making your information more accessible
Make sure that any information and services that you provide through your websites are accessible to customers with disabilities.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0
The best way to make sure that your website is accessible to your customers is to make sure that everything on it has Level AA conformance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. That includes:
Make sure your content writers, web designers, and web developers are very familiar with the WCAG 2.0. The WCAG 2.0 have advice and simple techniques to help you answer these questions:
Even if the company who design, develop, or host your website tell you that your website will be accessible, ask an expert (who’s not affiliated with the company) to check the website’s accessibility before signing off on it.
The National Disability Authority’s Centre for Excellence in Universal Design has web accessibility techniques for developers, designers, and content providers and editors.
Writing accessible content
Members of staff who write content for your website need to know how to use their word processing software, such as Microsoft Word, properly, to create properly structured, accessible information. Assistive technology helps people with disabilities to navigate and understand information. For example, “screen reader” software can read a document aloud to a person with a vision impairment. If that document contains properly structured headings, the screen reader can announce those too. That makes the document easier to understand. Your organisation’s webmaster cannot make everything accessible without help from other staff. Members of staff who write content for your website and want your webmaster to publish it to the web should:
It’s important that the staff who write the content make it accessible, because other members of staff, such as the webmaster, probably won’t be familiar enough with the subject to know how to make sure it’s accessible. For example, a webmaster probably won’t know what alternative text to give to a chart in a document about water quality. Also, if the person who wrote the document make some text look like a heading by making it bigger or colouring it differently, the webmaster probably won’t know whether that text should be a main heading or some level of sub-heading.
Learn how to use word-processing software properly
Download these Word documents:
In Good document.Doc:
Those steps are all quite easy, because the author of that document used the menus and toolbars to specify the headings, lists, and table. The word-processing software can identify each heading, list, table, and can treat them as such. For example, it can create a table of contents based on its understanding of the headings in the document. That document is accessible to customers with disabilities, because assistive technology software, such as a screen reader, will also be able to describe each item’s function to the customer.
In Bad document.Doc, try to:
Those steps are all quite time-consuming, because the author of that document didn’t use the menus and toolbars to specify the headings, lists, and table, and just used formatting to make text look like headings, lists and a table. The word-processing software cannot identify the “fake” headings, lists, and table, and cannot treat them as such. For example, it cannot create a table of contents based on the “fake” headings in the document. That document is not accessible to customers with disabilities, because assistive technology software, such as a screen reader, will not be able to describe each item’s function to the customer.
Notice that the bad document has no alternative text for its images and (depending on the software that you open it in) has squiggly red lines under its French phrase.
Making audio and video information accessible
WCAG 2.0’s guideline 1.2, Time-based Media, explains how to make audio and video information accessible to customers with disabilities. Here’s a quick summary of that guideline:
Recorded video (or slides) with audio
Recorded video (or slides) without audio
Recorded audio without video
When you provide either an Irish Sign Language version or a spoken version of some text purely to help customers who have trouble reading the text, you don’t need to provide audio description, captions, or text descriptions for those versions.
Make sure that:
When you plan a project that will involve information being put on your website, allow enough time in the project for somebody to:
Any electronic newsletters that you send should also have Level AA conformance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Even if the company who supply the service or templates say that the newsletters will be accessible, ask an expert who is not affiliated with that company to check that the newsletters are accessible before you sign off on them.
Ask users—including users with different disabilities—from your target audience to carry our tasks on your website, so that you can learn how usable your website it. You may need to change your website if users cannot use it easily. Your project’s budget and timeframe should allow for usability testing and subsequent changes.
Audit all of your websites regularly, to see whether they have Level AA conformance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. There are a lot of factors involved in making a website accessible, so ask somebody—either a colleague or an external expert—who is familiar with WCAG 2.0 to audit your websites for you. The National Disability Authority have useful, detailed guidance about web accessibility auditing. After the audit, write a plan for improving the accessibility of your websites, including:
You might not have enough resources to make every webpage on your website accessible. Prioritise your most popular webpages and webpages that are particularly relevant to customers with disabilities, and make them accessible. Then set a deadline, after which you will only publish information that is accessible.
If your website offers a service but you cannot make the relevant webpages accessible, make sure that customers can easily find an alternative way to access that service. For example, provide a phone number, email address and location, so that customers can avail of your service without using your website.
Web accessibility statements
Create a web accessibility statement for each website. You can use the National Disability Authority’s web accessibility statement template. Your web accessibility statement should state:
You should have a system for making sure that new content on your websites will be accessible. This could be:
Content Management System software
Some Content Management System software is imperfect and prevents staff from producing fully accessible webpages. For example, some Content Management System software prevents users from adding extra structure or information that would make a webpage properly accessible. Other Content Management System software automatically adds extra structure or styling that decreases a webpage’s accessibility. If you are buying or developing a Content Management System, investigate how accessible the webpages that it produces will be, before you pay for it. Your Content Management System software should have Level AA conformance to the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0.
Staff training and style guides
Staff who produce content should have training in:
That applies to staff who:
Make a style guide available to all relevant staff, so that they can refer to it when they write.
You could designate an expert in web accessibility to check each piece of information before staff publish it to the web, if necessary.
Top tips for making your websites accessible
Public sector bodies must prepare and regularly update a detailed, comprehensive and clear Accessibility Statement on the compliance of their websites and mobile applications with the European Union (Accessibility of Websites and Mobile Applications of Public Sector Bodies) Regulations 2020. (2020 Regulations). The 2020 Regulations transpose the “Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2016 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies”.
See guidance on writing an Accessibility Statement on the website of the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design
We are updating this content to provide top tips to create an Equitable Diverse and Inclusive (EDI) work culture using a Universal Design Approach.
The information above is also available to download as a Word document below.
Main Report: Word (2012)