To mark the ninth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), the Government Digital Service (GDS) did something it had never done before. We set up a full day virtual conference on digital accessibility. On 21 May 2020, we hosted 6 webinars, in partnership with accessibility experts from a range of public sector organisations and government departments and created a resource pack for people to organise their own events.
In this blog post we share the recorded webinars so that anyone can learn more about accessibility. We also reflect on our learnings from running the event.
There were 2 strands of events happening on the day itself. Firstly, GDS hosted its own GAAD agenda. We had almost 4,000 registrations across the 6 events in the lead up to the day.
Secondly, we created a downloadable resource pack that public sector digital teams could use to deliver internal workshops in their organisations.
There was lots of activity online about GAAD. Here is a snapshot of what people were saying:
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Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day! There’s lots of guidance on GOV.UK to help you make your digital work as accessible as possible: - Service Manual - Accessibility in Government blog - Guidance on accessibility regulations Find out more from the link in the bio #GAAD #AccessibilityRegulations
Watch the webinars
All the webinars were recorded on Zoom and are now available on the GDS YouTube page.
- An introduction to digital accessibility regulations by Richard Morton, Head of Accessibility for Government, and Joseph Jones, Policy Officer at GDS
- How to avoid common accessibility statement fails by Chris Heathcote, Product Manager at GDS and George Rhodes, Accessibility Consultant at Home Office
- How to carry out basic accessibility checks by Beverley Newing, Frontend Developer at Ministry of Justice, and James Buller, Senior Accessibility and Inclusion Consultant at Home office
- Building digital services that work for everyone by Oliver Byford, Senior Frontend Developer at GDS
- Making accessibility accessible: the secret to engaging your workforce by Helen Wilson, Digital Designer at Worcester County Council
- What would Marie Kondo do? How to clear your website of inaccessible PDFs by Lammy Jones, Content Strategist, and Sally Boyes, Website Project Manager, both at Leeds City Council
What we learned from the event
Our GAAD activities were planned in just 3 weeks. Our daily standups were the golden thread to our planning. These 10-minute catch ups allowed us to allocate responsibilities and a detailed project plan, to make sure the event ran smoothly.
We found that people were keen for a full day of events. Usually attendees drop off throughout the day, but all our sessions were at full capacity from 9am to 4pm. Our most well attended events were on PDFs and the introduction to the digital accessibility regulations, suggesting there’s appetite for more information on this.
As with all events, especially fully remote events, no matter how many run-throughs you have - the technology can still play up on the day. There were some issues with users accessing sessions via their browser, so this is something we are looking into.
Also, the scale of the event in terms of attendee interest was far greater than we anticipated. In future, we will look at other technical solutions that might be better suited to big audiences. We also saw some comments on our initial blog post about people not being able to sign up to events that were full, so we will make it clearer next time the capacity limit on each event. We will also work harder to promote that the sessions will be recorded so those who can’t join on the day have reassurance that they will be able to access the learning.
The day’s popularity also tells us that there's an appetite for more information on digital accessibility so we will certainly consider running this event, or similar, again.
Learning about accessibility is not just for one day of the year. The downloadable resources pack will remain on the GDS Blog, so you can set up events at any time to increase awareness in your organisation.
Our help and guidance on meeting accessibility regulations is another place to find out what public sector organisations need to do to meet the upcoming compliance deadlines of the regulations.
Thank you to everyone who worked on the event and joined in on the day. All your efforts make government easier for everyone to interact with.