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Jim Byrne Accessible Website Design Glasgow for The Third Sector, Voluntary, Charities and Not for Profits

Accessible design for the Third Sector
Creating inclusive websites since 1996
Jim Byrne Web Designer

Quick Summary of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for Third Sector Organisations

Published: October 11, 2017

GDPR Guide

The GDPR is the EU data protection regulation which replaces the current Data Protection Act. It aims to simplify regulation and give individuals more control over their personal data.

For Third Sector organisation already working within the constraints of the Data Protection Act it is unlikely to mean enormous changes to their approach. However, it does come with some additional duties and and some additional anxiety, due to the enormous penalties for non-compliance. The penalties for non-compliance will make organisations think twice about their use of personal data (i.e. fines can be up to 4% of worldwide turnover).

The regulations become enforceable from 25 May 2018. From that point on organisations who process personal data must comply with the new regulations.

For example, regulations will apply to data stored and processed for campaigning, for fundraising and for volunteer management. It should also be noted that volunteers are to be treated in the same way as employees, i.e. they must have appropriate training in the area of data protection.

Organisations must arrange an audit of personal data held and know:

* Where it comes from?

* Who it is shared with?

When asking for consent to store someone’s personal details:

* You must explain why you are collecting the data.

* Explain why you are retaining it .

* And provide clear information on how it will be used.

Explicit consent is now required to sell or share data with third party organisations. For example, when building an online mailing list a pre-ticked box on a form is no longer allowed. Consent must be unambiguously indicated through an action of the subscriber, i.e. they must tick the box themselves.

Everyone who is on an existing list must be aware that they are on the list and why they are on there. Consent is not however required for all forms of direct marketing – organisations can still make calls or send direct marketing material by post provided they can satisfy the ‘legitimate interest’ condition. Situations where you do not need consent are set out specifically in the GDPR* (see my notes at the foot of this article).

Individuals will have a right of access to their own data at any time. Organisations therefore will need to plan how to handle data access requests and decide on timescales and procedures.

There is also a new ‘right to be forgotten’ choice and individuals can request to be removed from data lists. Data also has to be kept up to data; so regular checks will be required on existing data. This will require privacy policies to be updated to outline procedures for individuals to request removal of their data. Individuals also have to be able to find out what data you hold about them.


Procedures need to be in place to detect, report and investigate any personal data breaches.

The new legislation provides an opportunity to review current practices and ensure you are not contravening any of the additional protections required by the new act. And of course it needs to be taken seriously due to the severe penalties for any organisation found to be in breach of the the new legislation.

What about Brexit?

Brexit will not put paid to this legislation; it is almost certain that the UK will adopt most (or all) of GDPR legislation.

Do you need help with compliance?

Jim Byrne Accessible Website Design can help your organisation comply with the new regulations in the following areas.

Making your online content more secure

If you are holding individuals data on your web site (e.g. members, volunteers, clients) you need to be active in ensuring your website is secure. I can help you by hardening security on your server, providing security monitoring services, enabling secure connections (e.g. an SSL Certificate) and providing backups for all of your online data (both database content and files).

Ensuring online forms comply

I can review your existing forms to check compliances and update any that need to be updated.

Providing a website compliance audit

I can also provide an audit of your website and website data to check how you are collecting and storing users personal data.

Contact me now for help with GDPR compliance.


* The UK’s Data Protection Regulator’s (ICO) highlights four factors in relation to whether you can rely on Legitimate Interests to hold an individual’s data:

  1. You need to show that you have balanced their interests with your interests when processing their data.
  2. Your assessment needs to be documented, be available and be open to challenge by affected individuals on the Regulator.
  3. You need to inform individuals that you are using their personal information under this condition. For example, via your Privacy Policy.
  4. You need to be able to uphold the individual’s right to object to such processing.

Contact me If you value experience (over 20 years as a web developer) and unrivalled technical know-how. Get in touch. Tel: 07810 098119. Email:

I’ll see you at Independent Living Scotland 2017!

Published: September 27, 2017

independent Living Scotland

I have a stand at this year’s Independent Living Scotland exhibition. Seek me out for a chat and for a free ‘live’ accessibility audit of your website. 🙂 Yes that is correct I will check the accessibility of your website while you are there. 

I’m located in the Ability Fest Pavilion at stand number 23. 

Here is the blurb from the exhibition organisers including information about parking. 

“It’s time to get inspired at Scotland’s largest disability lifestyle and independent living event, 4-5 October at the SEC, Glasgow.

Doors open from 10am – 4pm each day. Make sure you get there early to hear from Sally Magnusson! The renowned journalist, broadcaster and Playlist for Life founder will be opening the show! (10am, Wed 4th Oct).

Register now to take advantage of FREE ENTRY & PARKING!

Visit us at the event to see, try and test our latest products and services!

What’s on at ILS 2017:

  • Visit the Inspiration Theatre and hear from Skills Development Scotland, Guide Dogs Scotland, Racing Driver Mike Courts, wheelchair Rugby Paralympian Mike Kerr plus many more!
  • Free sight and hearing tests from Black & Lizars
  • Visit the Alzheimer’s and Autism Awareness areas for advice and support
  • Be prepared with the Energy in Scotland Area where the leading energy suppliers will be on hand to provide advice & support for emergency situations
  • FREE One to One Moving and Handling sessions from a PhysiCare Chartered Physiotherapist
  • Visit the new Ability Fest Pavilion for advice and support from charities, voluntary and support organisations
  • Healthcare Professionals can gain valuable knowledge with the two day CPD accredited seminar programme
  • Discover inspirational products and services from daily living aids, wheelchairs and scooters, home adaptations, telecare, energy advice, leisure options and more!
  • Take advantage of some great show only offers!

To find out more visit

Please note parking is free at the SEC surface level car park (excludes multi-storey) when you register in advance for the show.”

I hope to see you there. 

All the best,

What Can I Do For You? Outlining My Approach to Web Design

Published: September 18, 2017

Here is the text transcript of the video:

“So how can I help you? Now I’m a web designer, web developer, web accessibility specialist mostly working in the third sector.

But I don’t really think of myself as just a web designer. I have a wider view of what my job is. My job is to help your organisation achieve your aims, through your website.

The website you have should not be, it should be a pretty picture but it should not just be a pretty picture. It’s a tool – depending on what type of organisation you are – it’s a tool for your marketing or it’s a tool for you to deliver your services, it’s a tool to provide training, it’s a tool to communicate your message – whatever it is. And you have got some kind of audience that you are try to deliver that service to.

So before I would start any kind of design I would make sure that we discuss all of these kind of things: what your aims are as an organisation, who is your target audience (or target audiences), can you rank those audiences, what are the most important audiences that you are probably funded to serve or service? And looking at those different audiences – what are they after, why would they turn up at your site? What service are you are marketing to them – what are you are trying to do for them, what is the most important thing?

And what is the most important thing they are after? When they arrive at your site. So if we know all these things and you have said: the target audience is this, the most important thing they are thinking about is this and when they arrive at my website they probably want to look for… whatever.

Knowing that of course, knowing all that, impacts the visual design of your site knowing all that, impacts how you organise your content. It’s obviously not going to be any good if your main, if an individual, from your target audience, turns up at your site and the most important thing they are there for is buried somewhere five levels deep and it takes them half an hour to find it.

They have got to instinctively think: I can see they have thought about me. I can see that they are delivering something very quickly in a way that I don’t even have to think about it – because they have already thought about what I’m after.

And doing all of that you putting less stress on the visitor, your credibility as an organisation goes up many notches, because it’s clear that you have thought about your target audience and you are doing a good job as an organisation.

I’m not saying that how your website looks is not important. Of course that’s incredibly important because again your credibility relies on having a professional great looking site.

That’s actually one of the things that a lot of organisations fall down on. They think that maybe: they are small organisation and they’ve not got much of a budget they could maybe just employ a student to build the website or they could even just get somebody in-house to download a WordPress theme – something they particularly like the look of – install that and that’s the organisation website.

It’s a false economy. Not just a false economy, it damages you as an organisation. People might not be tremendously sophisticated when it comes to web design – but they know instinctively when they look at your site – whether you are taking the whole – delivery of your content or your message on the web – seriously or not.

They know there is something quite right- it’s not quite branded like the rest of the your organisation – the content’s not well organised. They don’t know exactly what’s wrong with it but they know it’s not quite right. And that is damaging you as an organisation.

They are less likely to come back and your credibility is going down the pan. So it’s a false economy. It’s got to look professional it ‘s got to look well designed, it’s to got be well organised it’s got to reflect your branding as an organisation. And it’s got to absolutely meet the needs of your audience.

Ok so, to reiterate your earlier question. what can I do for you. Well I can do all the usual web plumber stuff obviously – which is a beautiful website that is responsive, completely accessible and has all the features that you require. All the back-end development all the content management etc. I can make sure it’s absolutely beautiful because I do believe that’s important. So I will use my colleague Amanda Taylor – who is a graphic designer – she will do the visual design and I will do all the technical aspects. And I will do all of the stuff I was talking about earlier on. To absolutely ensure the focus, which is your aims as an organisations and your aims to meet the needs of your audience.

So if want somebody who is thinking of you first. And is thinking in this wider context, give me a shout.

Actually I forgot to say – just in terms of my credibility – I’ve been doing it for a long time and in that long time we have won a number of awards. Probably the most notable was: the Global Bangemann Challenge which I won – along with my – well for the Making Connections Unit – I won that along with my partner of the time Glasgow City Council. So we went over to Sweden – got that award off the king of Sweden. Won a number of other awards as well but I thought I’d just mention that.”

Ten tips to make your web text easier to read

Published: September 7, 2017

1. Left align text

Align your text to the left and leave it ragged on the right. Left-aligned text increases reading speed. The straight left edge helps to anchor the eye when starting a new line.

Never fully justify text as it can create serious readability problems. Even if you personally like the look of fully justified text, don’t do it. Word spacing is likely to go awry and you will end up with large gaps between words and ‘rivers’ of white space running down your pages. Those rivers make reading your content difficult, if not impossible, for people with dyslexia. Anything other than left-aligned text can cause problems for people using screen magnifiers.

2. Think about line length

There seems to be little agreement on what is the best line length for optimum reading speeds. The most commonly held view is that limiting line length to 9 or 10 words can increase speed and comprehension (based on the assumption that the eye can only focus on about 3 inches of a page at a time). However recent research appears to show that the rules that apply to off-line print don’t necessarily apply to online print.

It is suggested that line length can actually be longer for online content. However, having said that, don’t go beyond about 80 characters as at that point readability will start to suffer.

Reading speed and user preferences are not simple matters, consider the following conclusions by Melissa Youngman and Dr. Lauren Scharff (1998)

“Users read faster when line lengths are long, although they tend to prefer shorter line lengths. When designing, first determine if performance or preference is important. If user performance is critical, use longer line lengths to increase reading speed. However, if user preference is critical, use shorter line lengths.”

3 Get your ‘leading’ (line-height) right

Set the leading larger than the default – as a rough guide 1.3em of leading (130%) will make a big difference to the readability of a web page. Leading and line length however are related; the longer the line the bigger you need to make the leading.

Newspapers have very short line lengths and very little leading. They do this so that they can fit as much text into a small space as possible. However, given the variable nature of the devices people use to view web pages, we can never be sure what the line length is going to be for every user. In relation to leading my rule of thumb would be, if in doubt go bigger.

As an aside: you might be wondering why line-height is called ‘leading’. Well, in the olden days typesetters used pieces of lead to set the space between text lines. If you like typography and typography jargon – which I do – here’s a couple more. The space between characters is called kerning and the space between groups of characters is called tracking.

Need more exciting typography jargon? Here’s a glossary of typography terms.

4. Use the correct font

Choose a font that is suitable to your subject matter. An article about ancient manuscripts can justify the use of a flowery old font whereas an article about the design of modern art galleries can’t. For the article about the design of modern art galleries you will be looking at using a clean and uncluttered san-serif font.

Don’t use more than two fonts on a page. It will look like a ransom note. Clearly that will be distracting for visitors and draw attention away from your content.

Off-line, headings are commonly set in a sans-serif* font, with body text set in serif. However, on-line, sans-serif are often used for both headings and body text; the cleaner outlines of the sans-serif fonts tends to make them easier to read on low resolution screens.

Don’t mix serif and sans-serif fonts in your body text, as it makes you look like an amateur, which isn’t good. You may not have considered it as important but poor typography decisions can damage the credibility of you and your organisation.

* Serif fonts are those with little decorative flourishes on them and sans-serif fonts are the clean and tidy ones. Compare Times New Roman with Helvetica and you will get it.

5 Avoid large blocks of italics

Avoid using italics for small text sizes. Italicized fonts can look particularly bad at small sizes as italics are not easy to render using a square pixel grid. If you must use italics, avoid using them for large blocks of text.

6 Be spare in your use of capitals

Don’t use all caps for bodytype – or even capitalise all words in headings. The uniformly of size and shape of capitals make them harder to read than lower case letters.

Readability is increased when only the first letter in a heading is in capitals; each capital – being less recognizable – acts as an interruption to the eye as it scans across the text.

7 Ensure adequate contrast

Ensure good contrast between the text colour and the background colour. If the contrast between your text and background colours is low, some of your visitors won’t be able to access your content. That’s why the WCAG contains guidelines for colour contrast. For complying with WCAG AA standard text the contrast ratios need to be 4.5:1 for standard text and 3:1 for large text. Large text means 14 point and larger (typically 18.66px).

8. Underline links

Make it easy for visitors to understand what is a link and what is not a link. Don’t rely exclusively on mouseovers to identify links, as this can be confusing and reduces usability. (From

9. Use lots of headings

For service based websites in particular, arrange your text for scanability, i.e. have lots of headings and provide the most important ideas at the start of paragraphs. Use lists rather than dense passages of text when possible.

Most of your visitors will not be interested in reading every word on your page. So make it easy for them to find the information they are seeking quickly by using headings as signposts; signposts for the various issues and topics you are covering in you text.

10 Use appropriate language

Use a writing style and language that is appropriate for your audience. Don’t dumb down or dumb up. Think about who you are writing for and write for that audience.

Ignore the idea that you should never use jargon. If your audience expects it and when using it will actually make your meaning clearer, use it.

On the other hand if you are not writing for a specialist audience don’t try to be clever by using jargon just for the sake of it. Think about your audience and tailor your style to suit.

Don’t strive to use ‘easy read’ thinking that that will make your content accessible to a wider audience. It will accommodate one part of your audience but it will put another part off (probably the larger part). Easy read is designed for people with learning difficulties – an easy read version is an alternative version, i.e. a version aimed at a particular audience.

Jim Byrne

Contact me If you value experience (over 20 years as a web developer) and unrivalled technical know-how. Do you need a new beautiful responsive, accessible website? Get in touch. Tel: 07810 098119. 

Website Accessibility ‘WCAG A’ Audit Deal

Published: June 29, 2017

I’m offering a technical website accessibility audit and report to Level A of WCAG 2.0 for only £950. The audit will be completed and a report delivered to you in five working days.

I have been working in the area of website accessibility since 1996, so you can be sure that no-one else will bring more experience or expertise to the auditing process. If you want to have a chat or if you have any questions feel free to give me a phone on 07810 098 119.

Here is a summary of what an audit of your website would involve.

  • I will check your site against the WCAG 2.0 guidelines (A). Take note, I always go beyond standard tick box checks. I will check if your website is accessible to the real people who visit your site. I also highlight any usability issues I notice as I check the site and will mention these in my report.
  • I will carry out manual checks highlighting any issues that are having an impact on the accessibility of the site.
  • I will use a range of tools to test your website, including a screen reader, text only browser, colour analyser, CSS and HTML validator. The screen readers I will test with include Apple’s built-in screen reader and the JAWS screenreader. These are the tools many disabled people use when browsing your site so it makes sense to use them as part of our auditing process.
  • Dynamic page elements will be checked for accessibility, including any Javascript or Flash.
  • I will also run the site through automated tools to check which issues are highlighted. These are the tools that accessibility campaigners will use if they test your site so we must also use them so we are aware of the issues they throw up.
  • All relevant accessibility issues will be highlighted in a report with suggested solutions. The report will start with the a summary of the most important issues, i.e. the issues that will have the biggest impact on the accessibility of your site. The report will be clear and easy to read, i.e. I will do my best to avoid using jargon and I will explain technical issues as clearly as I can. The report will also contain a summary table of WCAG 2 checkpoints showing whether the site passed or failed.
  • I will provide a summary table (i.e. of the WCAG 2 Priority A Checkpoints) and a more detailed report when the findings merit it. There will be a detailed discussion of any failed checkpoints with example code and screen shots.

Email and telephone support will be provided after the report has been delivered. I will answer any questions you may have and guide you towards the actions needed to fix the identified issues.

The cost of the accessibility audit includes a retest after the issues identified have been fixed.

What will be checked:

After discussion with yourself we will choose representative pages and sections and functionality of the website. For example, if you have several different layouts or pages with particular functionality those will be included in the sample.

Here is some feedback I received from different organisations I have worked with.

“I have vast confidence in Jim’s abilities, and am frankly quite amazed that he met all of our very demanding requirements so quickly and so professionally! Many developers claim to have knowledge in these areas, but in my experience, very few if any have the practical knowledge and pragmatic approach that Jim has. I would advise any organisation looking for a high quality accessible website to talk to Jim. You won’t be disappointed (he’s also incredibly easy to work with).” Jane Hatton, Founder/Director, Evenbreak.

“As an advisory service on technology and disability it was critical for us that our Publisher Lookup website scored well on accessibility. I was delighted recently when a blind colleague was surfing round the site and spontaneously exclaimed ‘This is a really accessible website’. I told her we like to use people who know their stuff!” Alistair McNaught, Senior advisor, Jisc TechDis

“Jim has worked with the Scottish Accessible Information Forum, (SAIF) for over 10 years and we regard him as our resident expert on accessibility and the web. Last year, Jim redesigned our website to give it a fresh new look while keeping accessibility as a priority. He is always willing to help out with any questions we have and gets back to us promptly with a solution. We would have no hesitation recommending him to other organisations, and we frequently do whenever we get the chance!” Susan Burn, Project Development Officer, SAIF.

“Jim conducted an accessibility audit of the Health Rights Information Scotland (HRIS) website. The report was extremely detailed. It explained what the WCAG guidelines mean, how compliance was assessed, what problems were identified and how these could be fixed. We are confident that implementing Jim’s recommendations will greatly improve the accessibility of our site. The report was, as far as possible, free from technical jargon, and Jim was always more than happy to have a chat about things we did not understand. This evaluation has been extremely useful.” Health Rights Information Scotland Website

Phone me on 07810 098 119 if you would like to chat about any of the above or get in touch via the website accessibility audit contact form.

Jim Byrne

Developing An Accessible Searchable Directory For Evenbreak

Published: June 6, 2017

I’d like to tell you about a project that I have recently been working on called, Evenbreak. They provide such a fantastic service that I feel I need to spread the word.

EvenbreakThe aim of Evenbreak is to help disabled people and inclusive employers find each other. Employers upload jobs and disabled people register their employment interests and upload their CV’s. Evenbreak was set up by Jane Hatton as a social enterprise and it is one of those rare projects that is run by and for disabled people.

“With Evenbreak, inclusive employers can be confident that they will attract additional disabled candidates that they may not find through any other recruitment channels. Disabled jobseekers can be confident that employers who have chosen to place their vacancies on this site are serious about looking beyond their disabilities to identify what skills they have to offer.”

“Evenbreak is run by disabled people, for disabled people. As a social enterprise we are keen to promote a positive image of disabled people in employment, and any surplus income will fund positive publicity campaigns promoting the benefits of employing disabled people, to balance out some of the current negative, and inaccurate, portrayals of disabled people in the media.”

Jane Hatton got in touch to ask if I could develop a new companion website that would provide employers with “confidence around the practical issues around inclusion and accessibility in the work place.” The new website would be a searchable resource of content related to inclusive employment. It would be a members only website.

Although the visual design of the site was already existed  (i.e. the existing Evenbreak site), my job was to create all the functional aspects. I.e. all of the membership requirements (registration, secure login, members access levels and so on), a way to add, edit, tag and display the content, a way to hide content from non-members and alternative ways to search the content. Although most of the content would be hidden there would need to be a way to show some ‘teaser’ content to encourage new members to join.

Jane already had a huge amount of content to add to the new site, including over 300 documents on every imaginable subject related to employing disabled people. All of this content needed to be stored, categorised and tagged appropriately to ensue it could be found. All the forms needed to be accessible and easy to use.
Evenbreak Search Form

Within the constraints of fulfilling the aims for the site I was given a free rein in terms of the technologies used and the approach taken.

As the budget was small I decided to create the site using WordPress and where possible to create the functionality using existing technologies and modifications of existing plugins. The budget did not stretch to creating a custom application from scratch.

The other constraint, apart from money, was time. It all had to be functioning by the time of a pre-arranged meeting that Jane had set up to show the service to a room of potential corporate clients. The meeting date was set for 6 weeks from the point Jane got in touch.

Given the complexity of the project this was an incredibly tight time-frame. However, I did manage to provide a fully functioning website by the time of the meeting. The site was still located on my development server rather than on the evenbreak server at that point but nonetheless it was a bit of a miracle to get it done so quickly. The new site had to include a huge number of document and rsources so that the breadth of content could be demonstrated during the presentation.

The website is now live and can be found at Evenbreak Best Practice website.

I was delighted when Jane provide the following ‘testimonial’ which is so good it would get my in to heaven. 🙂

“Jim came highly recommended from experts in web accessibility, and so we engaged him to take over the Evenbreak site for us. However, Evenbreak is an online job board, and therefore a very complex site, with facilities for employers to pay for and post their roles, candidates to register and search for jobs, and many other complexities. Jim took all of this in his stride, having to understand the thinking of the previous developers very quickly. In addition to all of this, we asked Jim to design a bespoke portal for us, with very little lead-in time, which he worked on tirelessly, ensuring it was up to a fantastic standard for when we launched it.”

“I have vast confidence in Jim’s abilities, and am frankly quite amazed that he met all of our very demanding requirements so quickly and so professionally! We will be asking him to entirely re-build our site using his talents to build in both accessibility and responsiveness from the start. Many developers claim to have knowledge in these areas, but in my experience, very few if any have the practical knowledge and pragmatic approach that Jim has. I would advise any organisation looking for a high quality accessible website to talk to Jim. You won’t be disappointed (heąs also incredibly easy to work with).” Founder/Director, Evenbreak.

Give me a shout if you have an idea for a development project you would like to see realised. Tel: 07810 098119

20 Simple But Effective Facebook Marketing Tips

Published: May 24, 2017

  1. Set up a Facebook Page rather than a personal profile page. If you use a personal profile for an organisation you are breaking Facebook rules. On a practical level, you can share your Page ‘feed’ on your website, though not your personal profile. 
  2. Add an attractive and relevant cover photo. Change it often.
  3. When creating a link to a website create an image and add it to your post – don’t just let Facebook choose the thumbnail for you. 
  4. The optimal post length is between 80 and 100 characters. 
  5. Use scheduling software to post regularly. 2 posts per day seems to be a common recommendation. Popular scheduling services include SocialOomph and Hootsuite.
  6. Have a ‘call to action’ mindset when posting i.e. ask people to do something: take a survey, like, sign up for latest training.
  7. Add images and/or videos to your posts. You might want to get some statistics across – don’t just write it, create an infographic. 
  8. Fill in all the information you can on your ‘About Us’ sections: Website URL, physical address, contact info, keywords. Add a call to action in your biography e.g. ‘get your free guide’.
  9. Post content that has value to your audience – make it entertaining and informative. 
  10. Post Case studies that highlight your members/target group. Think about how you can recognise those who are part of your target group by linking to them, profiling them and showing how your services have helped them.
  11. Share content from others, particularly organisations working in the same area as yours.
  12. Only 20% of your posts should be directly promotional, that includes information about your events, training and services. 
  13. Promote and interact with other organisations working in similar areas to you even if they are competitors – share, like, comment on. This establishes you as an independent source of information about what is happening in the area you are working in and gives you credibility that you wouldn’t have if you only mentioned your own stuff. 
  14. Share the same content more than once. People have their own social media habits; if you post when they are not there, they won’t see it. Share the same content but with different headings and/or text.
  15. Try to create a conversation rather that just broadcast a piece of information. Ask a question, give an opinion and invite a response. Three quarters of non-profits are not doing that at the moment – they are just using it as a post board to announce things – so be different and try to make your posts engaging. (
  16. Create behind the scenes content. Take photos and video at training events, post updates about events you are attending or participating in. 
  17. Comment on trending issues – if possible in a way that is relevant to your own area of expertise. 
  18. Be nice to the people who are part of your social media network. Congratulate them on their successes, comment on, and share their posts and Tweets. 
  19. In general, your writing should have an informal and friendly tone. Lighten up. 
  20. Provide give-aways and discounts. Connect your discounts to something or someone. For example, your 20% off coupon could be ‘FRIENDSOFJOHN’ in honour of some good deed or success by someone in your network called John. Make discounts time related, i.e. ‘for today only’.

Contact me if you need help with website development or online marketing. Telephone: 07810 098 119.

Public Sector Equality Duty – A summary

Published: January 31, 2017

What is the public sector equality duty for?

The public sector equality duty is designed to ensure that those carrying out public functions (including public authorities) consider how they can contribute to and help foster a more equal society. They have a duty to promote good relations between different groups and to advocate and advance equality.

In summary:

  • Deliver improved outcomes for everyone.
  • Develop policies, based on evidence.
  • Take action to advance equality.
  • Be transparent, accessible and accountable.
  • With this policy the onus shifts away from the individual’s need to assert their right to equal treatment onto public authorities. Public authorities are now expected to be pro-active in tackling institutional discrimination.

The public sector equality duty covers a list of ‘protected characteristics’:

  • race
  • religion or belief
  • disability
  • age
  • gender
  • gender reassignment,
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • sexual orientation

The duty also covers marriage and civil partnerships, in relation to eliminating unlawful employment discrimination.

How does it relate to disabled people?

Organisations must take into account a disabled person’s impairment and ensure that that impairment is not a barrier to equal treatment. Organisations need to be pro-active i.e. not wait to react if someone complains about an issue or requests equal access or treatment. An example would be a local authority making their website accessible to disabled people and providing alternative formats available by default.

The General Equality Duty

The public sector equality duty is set out in the Equality Act 2010 and referred to as the ‘general equality duty’.

The general equality duty has three elements:

  1. To eliminate unlawful discrimination.
  2. To promote equality of opportunity.
  3. To foster good relations between those with ‘protected characteristics’ and those who do not.

A public authority must take account of these three needs to comply with the general equality duty.

Who is subject to the General Equality Duty?

The list includes health boards, education authorities, further and higher education authorities, local authorities, the police, fire and rescue authorities and Scottish Ministers. There is a full list of those subject to the act online.

The duty covers public authorities when carrying out their public functions as service providers, as policy makers and as employers and also covers services and functions which are contracted out.

When private and voluntary sector organisations are carrying out a ‘public function’ they are also covered by the duty. A public function’ is one defined as such by the Human Rights Act 1998.

In order to meet the general duty, a public authority must:

  • Be educated about the the act and the requirements implied so that they can be applied to policies and practices. Duties under the act should be considered at the time when new policies are being created.
  • The decision making process must take heed of the three needs of the general equality duty in a way that influences the outcomes of those decisions.
  • The general equality duty is a ‘continuing duty’ – so it has to be considered during the implementation of policy and must be continually reviewed.
  • The public equality duty also applies to anyone exercising public functions on behalf of a public body; the duty rests with the public authority even when delegated to a third-part organisation.

Specific Duties

Secondary legislation outlining specific duties came into force on 27 May 2012.

Each listed authority is required to:

  • Publish progress on mainstreaming of the equality duty, equality outcomes, gender pay gap and equal pay.
  • Review policies and practices and asses them.
  • Gather employee information.
  • Consider award criteria in relation to public procurement
  • Publish information in a manner that is accessible.

How Jim Byrne Accessible Website Design Can help organisations comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty

Many of the organisations subject to the act have websites and documents that are not accessible to disabled people. If a disabled person cannot access information on a website managed by a public authority and no alternatives are offered that would be considered as unequal treatment under the Equality Act 2010 .

The services I provide can help in the following ways. I can:

  • Carry out a website access audit to check if there are any barriers to disabled people accessing content.
  • Help make the updates necessary to ensure your website is accessible
  • Develop a new usable accessible website for your in so that you are being pro-active in meeting the needs of disabled people
  • Update your existing website to make it more accessible.
  • Identify and fix accessibility problems with PDF’s or Word documents you publish so that your publications are accessible to your target groups.

Contact me to discuss any of the above. Telephone: 07810 098 119

Or fill in the contact form below:

Equality Act 2010 – A Summary

Published: January 25, 2017

Equality Act 2010 was designed to simplify UK anti-discrimination laws by aggregating several related laws into one. It replaces, among other acts, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, (DDA, Race Relations Act 1976 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975.

In summary, the Act makes it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of a person’s race, religion or impairment. The goal is to promote equal opportunities in the workplace and in wider society.

The Equality Act 2010 and disabled people

As mentioned above, the Act replaces the old Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). It not only outlaws discrimination against disabled people but also states that organisations must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure equal treatment. The ‘Public Sector Equality Duty’ part of the act outlines the obligations placed on public authorities (including NHS boards) to eliminate discrimination and positively enhance equality and relations between different groups.

The act also covers what it calls, ‘indirect discrimination’. For example, if an employer has a rule that applies to every employee but it is found that that the rule puts disabled people at a disadvantage – that is regarded as discrimination. An example of indirect discrimination would be telling a person with photosensitive epilepsy that they had to apply for in-house training ‘online’ – just like everyone else. The computer skills of someone with photosensitive epilepsy are likely to be poor – as using a computer could cause them to have a seizure – so this would not be considered a reasonable request. If no alternative application process is provided this would be regarded as discrimination.

The act also protects people who have an association with a disabled person, such as a carer.

What organisations does the act apply to?

The act applies to Government departments, Employers, service providers, education bodies and education providers (Schools, FE colleges and Universities), those who provide public functions, landlords and transport providers.

What do these organisations have to do?

Employers and public bodies have a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure disabled people are not put at a ‘substantial disadvantage’. One example of a reasonable adjustment would be to ensure that information provided on an organisation’s website is accessible to someone who is blind or has a visual impairment. Another example of reasonable adjustment would be to install a ramp to allow wheelchair users to access a building.

Employers have to make changes to the way things are done, if the current situation disadvantages disabled people ‘reasonable adjustment’ is required. For example, providing information in an accessible format; including on websites and documents (e.g. PDF’s and Word documents) provided as part of a public service.

Positive Actions in favour of disabled people

The law allows employers to treat disabled people more favourably that non-disabled people. For example, providing employment opportunities specifically for people with a learning difficulty.

What is The public sector Equality Duty

The public sector Equality Duty requires public bodies – such as the ‘listed’ authorities, the NHS and others with public functions – to take into account the impairments of disabled people when making decisions on policies or services. Public bodies have a duty to think about the need to eliminate discrimination in their work place. They now need to be pro-active rather than re-active in relation to ensuring equality

Specific duties (Scotland) Regulation 2012

The Specific duties (Scotland) Regulation 2012 came in to force in 2012 and places duties on public authorities in Scotland. They are designed to help them develop better policies and practices and improve transparency and accountability – as well as to advance equality of opportunity between different groups.

How Jim Byrne Accessible Website Design Can help organisations comply with the Equality Act 2010

Many organisations have websites and documents that are not accessible to disabled people and therefore they are discriminating against disabled people.

The services I provide can help in the following ways. I can:

  • Carry out a website access audit to check if there are any barriers to disabled people accessing the content.
  • Help you make the updates necessary to ensure your website is accessible
  • Develop a new usable accessible website for you – so that you are being pro-active in meeting the needs of disabled people
  • Update your existing website to make it more accessible.
  • Identify and fix accessibility problems with PDF’s or Word documents you publish so that your publications are accessible to your target groups.

Contact me to discuss any of the above. Telephone: 07810 098 119

Or fill in the contact form below:


When is unequal treatment not considered discrimination under the Act?

If actions that put disabled people at a disadvantage can be justified – for example, because it would incur unreasonably high costs – that is not counted as discrimination by the act.

The ‘cast iron’ business case for accessible website design

Published: January 17, 2017

Just a quick follow up from my New Year Newsletter in which I gently encouraged you to think about your website and online marketing strategy. One area I mentioned in my newsletter was website accessibility. As I am sure you already know, it is considered a form of discrimination if disabled people are not able to access website content (the Equalities Act 2010). So with that in mind I thought I’d take the opportunity to look at the benefits of accessible website design from a slightly different perspective, i.e. the business case.

The business case for accessible website design

In September last year I spoke at the Accessibility Scotland conference and an audience member asked whether there was a ‘cast iron’ business case for making a website accessible? They were having trouble trying to get their managers to prioritise accessibility or put any resources into ensuring the website was accessible to disabled people. 

‘Off the top of my head’ I could not remember any statistics to quote, though I did mention the usual stuff about a more accessible site generating more traffic, being easier to use and having reduced maintenance costs.

However, it seems that these logical arguments do not ‘cut any ice’ when it comes to making the case; what people want are facts, figures and case studies showing increased traffic and increased sales.

So with that in mind here are three major case studies showing the benefits of accessible website design in real terms. 

  • CNET: there was a 30% increase in traffic from Google after CNET started providing transcripts (reported AST(.ppt) “We saw a significant increase in SEO referrals when we launched an HTML version of our site, the major component of which was our transcripts.” – Justin Eckhouse, CNET, 2009.
  • Legal & General Group: visitor numbers doubled, maintenance costs were cut by two thirds, natural search traffic increased by 50%. .
  • Tesco:  ‘the site now attracts a much wider audience, spending £13 million a year, which is a fraction of the original cost of £35,000 to develop the accessible site’ (John Browett, Tesco Chief Executive). Read the Tesco case study. (2004, UK).

These case studies clearly show that an accessible website design reduces maintenance costs, increases usability and increases traffic. In short, accessible website design is good for your business.

Web Accessibility Auditing Service :

Even if you are not planning a brand new website from scratch I can help you realise some of the benefits outlined above by making your existing website more accessible. The first step in that process is to have your website audited to see if there are any aspects that are inaccessible to disabled peoples. You will then be in a position to have those issues addressed; thus increasing the accessibility and usability of your website.

As an website accessibility auditor since 1996 I am one of the most experienced and skilled practitioners in the UK. I will check your site against the WCAG 2.0 guidelines to ensure that your site is compliant with the BS8878 Web Accessibility Code of Practice.

An audit by myself goes way beyond tick box checks; I will check that your site is accessible and usable to the real people who visit your site.

Contact me today to take advantage of this unique expertise to utilise my expertise to attract more visitors to your website and make it easier to use by everyone. No matter what your budget or how big or small your website is I will be able to provide an audit that fits with your needs.

Free Guide: How To Keep Your Site Accessible

Non-profits need to ensure their websites are accessible. This jargon free guide will help.

Alternative access to client feedback

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