Making Accessibility Guides accessible

How frustrating it must be to be denied access to places you really want to visit, because you can’t get in or around the venue. And it must be nerve wracking to throw caution to the wind and turn up, not completely sure if there will be difficult steps, or enough space to turn your wheelchair.

So it was a pleasure and a responsibility to be asked to advise on language accessibility, for VisitEngland and VisitScotland’s upgraded Accessibility Guides website.

Accessibility Guides

The website enables tourism operators to publish online accessibility guides, so people with accessibility needs can make informed decisions about where to visit.

 

Accessible language

To serve the largest possible audience, VisitEngland and VisitScotland recognised that reducing language barriers was as important as reducing physical barriers.

There were two intended audiences – the tourism operators, and the visitors or potential visitors who would read the guides. It was important that language was accessible for both audience groups.

 

Automatically generated text

The project was different from anything I had worked on before: businesses were to respond to a series of questions, which would automatically generate text.

The main focus of my work was to construct questions, and multiple-choice answers, that would automatically generate readable, relevant, public-facing, online information.

 

Language, logic and user testing

The biggest challenges were to ensure that generated content was cohesive, and met all circumstances. The construction of the questions and answers was technically very difficult, as the totality of possible circumstances did not fit together neatly, with little semantic or syntactic consistency. I manipulated the content to create a logical progression of questions and answers.

User testing was essential to ensure the questions and generated content were understood, and true to the experiences and needs of both audience groups.

 

Easier to use, easier to choose

The final website was simpler and more standardised than the previous format. User testing showed the site was easier for businesses to complete, and easier for people with accessibility needs to use.

John Glen, UK Government Minister for Tourism, said: ‘These guides give clear accessibility information to make it easier for disabled visitors to plan their trips with confidence.’

Sally Balcombe, VisitEngland Chief Executive, said: ‘The accessibility guides will allow travellers to compare attractions and … make an informed choice.’

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said: ‘This website helps businesses produce informative guides in a user-friendly format … (to) promote inclusion and enable all our customers to have the opportunity … to live life in the same way as anybody else.’

For out more about the Accessibility Guides.

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Department of Work and Pensions

Inklecomms was asked by the DWP to provide advice and adaptations to ensure letters to claimants regarding Employment and Support Allowance, and Jobseekers’ Allowance, were easier to understand.

Claimant representatives were engaged in content creation and feedback.

Working with users and other stakeholders, Inklecomms improved the content, flow, relevance and clarity of standard letters, using Easier English.

Inklecomms also provided an accessibility audit for a proposed Easy Read leaflet. The audit included analysis and recommendations on intended audience and writing style, including text structure, expository features, language and illustrations.

This work contributed to a review of information products, following recommendations by the independent Work Capability Assessment and Oakley reviews.

Northern Neurological Alliance

A questionnaire to measure outcomes, for people with acquired neurological conditions, was adapted using Easier English. Adaptations aimed to improve ease of use and validity of responses.

Advice was provided on further, staged simplifications of the questionnaire, so that it could be adapted to meet the needs of people with progressive conditions.

VisitEngland and VisitScotland

Inklecomms provided language consultation for VisitEngland and VisitScotland’s new Accessibility Guides website, enabling tourism operators to produce accessibility guides for visitors with disabilities.

The main focus of the work was to construct questions, and multiple-choice answers, that would automatically generate readable, relevant, public-facing, online information.

The final website was simpler and more standardised than the previous format. User testing showed the site is easier for businesses to complete, and easier for people with accessibility needs to use.

‘These new guides will give clear accessibility information to make it easier for disabled visitors to plan their trips with confidence.’
John Glen, UK Government

‘The new accessibility guides will allow travellers to compare attractions and accommodation before choosing their destination, enabling them to make an informed choice.’
Sally Balcombe, VisitEngland Chief Executive

Royal Marsden Hospital

Inklecomms provided advice and training, to combine a complaints leaflet, and its Easy Read equivalent, into one standard document.

Adaptations using Easier English improved understanding, and ease of use, for patients and carers with diverse language, literacy and knowledge needs.