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Brook’s commitment to improving digital accessibility  

Lara Steele, Digital Officer, talks about Brook’s commitment to making sure our website, tools and content can be accessed by everyone.  

Over 1/5 of the UK population has a disability, whether that’s visual, auditory, cognitive, speech, neurological or physical.

Now, thanks to the development of assistive technologies such as screen readers, enlargement tools or refreshable braille displays, access to the Internet has never been better. But there’s still a long way to go.  

Imagine you were to visit a webpage about something as important as STI testing: there’s an image on the webpage but you can’t see what it is, there’s also text but you can’t read it because of the colour. You then come to fill out a form to order an STI kit, but it expires before you had time to complete it. These are daily struggles that many disabled people have to deal with in order to access simple information that the majority take for granted.  

The problem is that the Internet was not created or designed with these new technologies, or the people that use them, in mind.

Instead, poorly designed and coded websites continue to hinder disabled people’s Internet use.  

Access to our help and advice information, Find a Service tool, order forms and policies should not be considered a luxury – these are vital resources to help people access safe and necessary care and should be available to everyone. That’s why digital accessibility is a priority at Brook and is always at the forefront of our minds when developing new digital tools and webpages.

By focusing on our digital accessibility, we’re making sure everyone has access to the information they need when they need it and improving our website experience in the process.

Our goal is to meet the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)’s international guidelines on web accessibility, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). When followed, the WCAG makes sure that web content is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, because it is:  

  1. Perceivable: able to be perceived by the senses whether that’s visuals, sound or touch.  
  2. Operable: users can operate interface elements and navigate the content.  
  3. Understandable: everyone should be able to understand the meaning and purpose of the information. 
  4. Robust: the web content needs to function reliably.  

To help us on this mission, we’ve enlisted the help of Monsido, a website management platform. Monsido scans the Brook website for accessibility errors, both those that can be perceived and those that may be hidden in the code, and flags when we may not be meeting the latest WCAG standards. Our Digital Team can then update the site, working with our web developers as needed, to make the necessary changes. These are often small improvements, for example quick edits to hyperlinks, colour schemes and adding alt-text to images but we know they will make a huge difference to disabled people’s experience of our website. 

To complement these site-wide changes, we’ve also introduced Monsido’s PageAssist tool. This allows anyone accessing our website to change how our webpage’s display, including the layout, colours and font. You can find it as a purple icon in the bottom left corner of any Brook page (including this one!). This flexibility to alter the webpage to suit individual needs can help make navigation easier, information clearer and saves time in the process. 

Of course, these tools are extremely helpful but they aren’t a magic bullet; it’s also essential to make sure everyone understands what digital accessibility is and what it means to make a website or online tool accessible.

That’s why we include digital accessibility training in the induction process for new Digital Team members and commit to undertaking regular top-up training so we are aware of the latest updates and best practice. Alongside this, we have been working with our technical partners and suppliers to emphasise our commitment to digital accessibility and make sure they are on board. 

We still have lots of work to do but if you notice changes on our website over the coming months, that’s our Digital Team working behind the scenes to make sure Brook is accessible for everyone! 

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