Learning and doing are two of our favourite things, so we were super-excited that the council-wide LearnFest gave us a chance to combine them this week.
More of the learning later. Here’s what we’ve been up to.
We’ve agreed to talk at the Cross-Government Accessibility Leaders Network (ALN) in early December. It’s a great opportunity to share our experiences as a local authority making sense of the new accessibility legislation and guidance.
The Government Digital Service sent us some guidelines this week on how to make our PowerPoint presentation accessible. It’s alerted us to the fact that we need to make some tweaks to our standard template and re-think the amount of content that we’re putting on each slide. We’re going to share this guidance on our accessibility toolkit.
Ed and Lottie attended the Accessibility 2020 conference at the Shard, which was a great opportunity to hear from some other organisations who are also working to make their online estate accessible by September next year.
They picked up some useful advice that we’re hoping to implement on our own project and were reassured to find out most other people were experiencing the same problems we are.
We kicked off the week with our regular show and tell session, where we shared some of the insights that we’ve got from early testing and got some useful feedback – it was great to hear from a broad range of people in the session to make sure we’re considering all perspectives on the things we’re observing and learning.
This week we've been focussed on building our understanding of the 'as is' situation - not just from the perspective of process flow but also the user journey (which is quite a challenge) and technology. We are building a useful selection of blueprint documents where we can layer these things together as we discover more and begin to see where opportunities for change emerge.
We've also had some really helpful data (big thanks to Jason Marshall) which is helping us build a better picture of where to focus and questions to ask - but there's still more work to do. We're hooked into a number of other forums now, so there's more avenues to explore.
Later in the week we had conversations with other Local Authorities, which in addition to giving us a clearer view of the challenges have also generated some more leads for us to follow up with. So far we're hearing that Financial Assessments is a challenging and complex space, and whilst technology can certainly help it's by no means a silver bullet.
We’ve refined the draft content we tested with social workers last week based on their feedback and can use this to inform future comms. We’ve also started redesigning letters explaining Financial Assessments and hope to test these with social workers in the coming weeks.
Once again, a very special thank you to those who attended the show and tell - we've found the conversations and learning we get from these sessions to be invaluable, so please do come along to the next one if you can.
Along with Lino, we’ve been reviewing how we measure the way content is performing. This is really important if we’re going to iterate effectively and keep Essex.gov lithe and efficient.
Caroline conducted a mini review of Essex Effective Support website and gave advice to our new Corporate Health and Safety Manager on how he could improve his intranet content.
Julie met with Ben as she will be taking over Highways – familiarising herself with all his good work. She’s also been looking at new ways to attract more residents to join our user-testing panel.
We ran a couple of sessions at the council’s Learning Festival titled Doing the Hard Work to Make Things Simple: How adopting a user-centred mindset makes things better for citizens and for ECC.
We were keen to highlight the issues faced by our service users with low literacy levels, physical and sensory impairments and poor digital skills as they’re all barriers to accessing online services if we don’t design them in the right way.
Attendees seemed to really enjoy the immersive tasks that we gave them including pairing coloured socks while wearing glasses that simulate Macular Degeneration or navigating the WH Smith website using the tab and return keys only.
We asked them what they gained from the event and some of the comments included:
“understanding how difficult certain impairments can be when undertaking simple tasks”
“not to assume”
”Makes you think about people who are different. Day to day tasks which we complete could be another person’s nightmare”
It’s definitely shown us that just talking about accessibility around the organisation isn’t the way forward. We need to do more immersive sessions to really bring home the challenges that a significant number of residents face.
We'll be blogging on the session in more detail next.
Everyone really threw themselves into the planning and execution of our team’s LearnFest session. It showcased the best of Service Design team and was a great way to welcome some of the new starters who’ve joined in the past couple of weeks.
From Sheila’s matchless Matcha expertise to Ben’s extensive ski-wear collection it showed the broad range of talents and interests that make this such a great team to be part of.