ASPIRE stories

The ASPIRE public sector story

24 August 2020

Going Public: Introducing ASPIRE public sector

The keen-eyed among you may have noticed that our ASPIRE service has been expanding in recent weeks. ASPIREeducation was launched last week to support the higher and further education sectors in implementing the new Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations coming into effect on 23 September 2020.

Under the new legislation “a public sector body must provide an accessibility statement in accordance with the model accessibility statement and keep that statement under regular review.” The model accessibility statement and accompanying guidance have been prepared by the Government Digital Service (GDS) to define the requirements for a public sector accessibility statement. This week the GDS updated their information about how they will monitor and enforce the new legislation. The GDS states that:

Organisations that do not meet the accessibility requirement or fail to provide a satisfactory response to a request to produce information in an accessible format, will be failing to make reasonable adjustments. This means they will be in breach of the Equality Act 2010 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The EHRC and ECNI can therefore use their legal powers against offending organisations, including investigations, unlawful act notices and court action.

But how can you measure whether your statement is compliant? There is currently no accreditation process for public sector accessibility statements and this lack of clear-cut reassurance can lead to concern on the part of public sector organisations.

Introducing ASPIRE public sector

To combat this sense of unease among public sector organizations, textBOX, in close association with McNaught Consultancy and All Able launched ASPIREeducation last week. You can read more about ASPIREeducation in our launch article or contact us at aspire@textboxdigital.com.

ASPIREeducation was the first step in our efforts to support public sector organisations in the UK. With the deadline fast approaching, today we launch ASPIRE Public Sector, the first accreditation service for public sector body accessibility statements. ASPIRE Public Sector covers any public sector body outside of educational institutions. A ‘public body’ is “a formally established organisation that is (at least in part) publicly funded to deliver a public or government service.” Examples include vast + eclectic range of organisations including central government, local government, the NHS, Arts Council England, the BBC, British Film Institute, British Museum, Companies House, Crown Commercial Service, the Electoral Commission, the Environment Agency, Forestry England, Met Office, National Gallery, the National Lottery Fund, Ordnance Survey, and many others.

Since its launch in 2018 the ASPIREreview process has successfully raised the standard of accessibility statements in the international publishing industry through the introduction of the ASPIREpublisher and ASPIREplatform services. We understand the complexities of crafting a user-focused accessibility statement and the nuances of compliance with the regulations.

The ASPIRE Public Sector review process provides comprehensive guidance to help organisations write quality accessibility statements. We can help you at every step of the process through transparent scoring criteria, practical guidelines, and consulting services, if a little extra help is required. Once approved, the verified ASPIREscores are then publicly ranked to create a unique resource for the public sector.

The verified ASPIREscores are then publicly ranked to create a unique resource for the sector and for prospective students. ASPIRE public sector is also integrated with the searchBOX Directory + searchBOX Finder, so users will be able to seamlessly explore available ASPIREreviews alongside accessibility contacts + statements.

ASPIRE Public Sector will essentially map the accessibility landscape of the UK Public Sector network + create a new accessibility standard for the sector. An organisation’s accessibility statement will become a window on how they engage with their whole audience.

Facing the FACTS with your accessibility statement.

ASPIRE Public Sector is based upon the newly developed FACTS model which weaves user-focused practices with the existing compliance-focus of the GDS statement and regulations. The FACTS model is based on the 5 characteristics of a good accessibility statement:

  • FORMATIVE: it makes users smarter at exploiting accessible content.

  • ACTIONABLE: it makes users resilient, helping them deal with inaccessible content.

  • COMPLIANT: it keeps the organisation safe by covering the legal requirements.

  • TRANSPARENT: it keeps disabled users on board by being honest and accountable.

  • SUPPORTIVE: it makes users confident by clarifying support options.

The Government Digital Services template helps you be compliant - and compliance is at the centre of the FACTS model. But compliance alone does not lead to culture change. Achieving a high ASPIRE Public Sector score highlights an organisation’s dedication to creating a positive and inclusive environment for their users.

Compliance alone does not lead to culture change.

Being Aspirational

The new ASPIRE Public Sector service launches today, and we’d love to hear your thoughts. Please contact us to learn more about the service and the benefits to your organization.

We believe that accessibility statements, rather than just ticking a box, can make a real difference. We look forward to helping you tell your accessibility story.

Contact us: aspire@textboxdigital.com

ASPIREeducation is a service provided by textBOX, McNaught Consultancy + All Able.

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