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If you build it, they will come…?

Adventures in the realm of accessible websites with Disability Information Scotland

Since I began work with DIS last year, myself and the staff team have been endlessly discussing how we wanted to improve our website. We tinkered and tweaked the website we had – but felt major website envy when we saw other sites that encapsulated what we wanted to do; sites like Quarriers and Mindroom.

We wanted that clean, clear, simple feel too; a website that would be easy to understand and navigate, whilst still looking good.

So the SCVO digital internships scheme provided us with the perfect opportunity to take forward our plans to design and create a new, accessible website for our charity. We were lucky enough to be successful in our application to the programme, meaning we secured the services of a ‘digital intern’ for 6 weeks (with SCVO paying them the ‘living wage’.)

It’s been an inspiring, interesting, creative and sometimes challenging process – and we’re not there yet. This blog is about some of our adventures so far – we hope the end is in sight as we’re planning to launch the new website in September!

Our intern Effie ran with our brief for an attractive website with accessibility as the key consideration throughout. The website has been designed on WordPress and Effie introduced us to accessibility plug-ins that come as part of the package.

Through the SCVO programme, we’ve also made links with Adam and Nick at Pulsion Technology, who serve as ‘mentors’ for us during and after the 6 week internship (Pulsion, like ourselves, are signatories of Scotland’s Digital Charter.)

Their input is proving invaluable as sadly, Effie’s time with us came to an end on the 1st of June. Happily, however, she will still be in touch to offer us ongoing support. Our staff team are now trying to get to grips with sliders, themes, plug-ins and all the wonders of WordPress, with support from the Pulsion guys.

We’ve also taken advantage of our links with SAIF, using a selection of  forum members as part of our consultation/focus group to help us ‘co-create’ the website. We’re conscious there’s no point in putting in a lot of work, launching the site, then asking people what they think – we have to take feedback from the very beginning of the process, and throughout.

So at the moment, we’re still in the midst of this journey, trying to see the wood for the trees…speaking of which, we’ve had a lot of fun out and about at The Botanics in Edinburgh, taking photos for the website (they have a lovely maze – the relevance of which may be partly explained by the photos below!)

Our hashtag is #shareinfo4change (feel free to use it) – if you’ve been on a similar journey and would like to share what you’ve learnt with us, please do email us at michelle.davitt@update.org.uk or find us on twitter @UPDATE_Scotland. We hope to write another blog in the next few months to follow on from this one, allowing us to #shareinfo4change with you.

The above photo is courtesy of Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh – many thanks 

This photo is © Disability Information Scotland.

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