Case Study: Our Watch Ltd adopts accessible communications to further its mission

The body established to drive nation-wide change in the culture, behaviours and attitudes that underpin and create violence against women and children engages Media Access Australia to deliver digital accessibility know-how to partners involved in the creation of new websites, branding, and digital content.

Our Watch logo
Our Watch logo

About Our Watch

Our Watch’s vision is an Australia where women and their children live free from all forms of violence.

Our Watch’s mandate is to stop violence before it happens.

Our Watch’s purpose is to provide national leadership to prevent all forms of violence against women and their children.

Our Watch’s work will always be based on sound research and strong and diverse partnerships.

The challenge

As part of fulfilling its mandate to stop violence, Our Watch communicates with a diverse range of stakeholders, including teens and young adults, parents and caregivers, teachers and educators, men, women, professionals as well as policy makers, government agencies, the media, sports bodies, schools and community sector organisations.

A critical part of this is ensuring that its web presence and information is accessible by all these stakeholders, including those with a disability, varying levels of education, older Australians and those from non-English-speaking backgrounds.

That means that Our Watch’s online communications— websites, apps, online documents, information and services—must be digitally accessible. In practice, this means conformance with the global standard in web accessibility, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) [link is external].

Media Access Australia engaged to deliver web accessibility expertise

Not having the extensive digital accessibility expertise in-house, Our Watch commissioned its digital services agency, Hardhat Digital [link is external]—which was undertaking a redesign of Our Watch’s website—to source accessibility knowledge and training direct from Media Access Australia.

On its commissioning, Media Access Australia immediately developed a strategy for embedding web accessibility principles and best practice into Hardhat Digital’s website design and development processes.

This three-stage plan for baking-in accessibility began with a review of wireframes and designs for the new site, followed by reviewing front-end templates and HTML, then a rigorous functional assessment and audit of the completed site to ensure compliance with WCAG 2.0.

As part of a knowledge transfer process on web accessibility for Hardhat Digital, Media Access Australia also delivered an extensive checklist translating complex and technical WCAG 2.0 requirements into concrete and easy-to-follow actions.

The checklist also established key accountabilities among developers, designers and content authors for specific WCAG 2.0 principles, success criteria and guidelines. Through this, Hardhat became better equipped to incorporate accessibility best-practice in current and future projects.

The organisation also made a number of accessibility improvements for website widgets, such as a language selector and translator, a ‘quick escape’ function that takes users straight to an external search engine, modal windows and the application of an accessible video player.

The Line campaign logo
The Line campaign logo

A similar process was also undertaken for the production of a new website for The Line campaign in early 2015. The Line is a primary prevention behaviour change campaign for young people aged 12 to 20 years delivered by Our Watch. The Line encourages healthy and respectful relationships by challenging and changing attitudes and behaviours that support violence.

Following the success of the Our Watch website accessibility project in 2014, Our Watch engaged Media Access Australia again to work closely with web design agency Bliss Media and branding agency Canyon to develop an accessible brand, website and content.

Accessible documents

Media Access Australia identified a need to produce accessible content for the new Our Watch website. Previously, documents hosted online were not provided in accessible Word format—typically in an inaccessible PDF file.

Addressing this, Media Access Australia provided specific recommendations on accessible document practice as well as services around remediating important documents for media and policy makers, infographic resources and other content.

Advice was also supplied around the need for audio description and captioning services for Our Watch’s website video content.

Additional partnering

Media Access Australia also partnered with an additional external supplier to Our Watch, Canyon [link is external], to provide advice on specific access issues such as developing an accessible colour palette, colour contrast and integration with social media. Through this Media Access Australia provided consulting on establishing accessible branding and marketing collateral.

Media Access Australia also partnered with another external supplier, Get Started [link is external], to provide accessibility expertise and advice to help make the Kentico content management system accessible. Content management systems play a vital role in ensuring that website content is accessible.

Benefits

In partnering with Media Access Australia, Our Watch has gained substantial benefits. It now has a website which is WCAG 2.0 compliant and that dramatically reduces its risk of being the subject of a complaint under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

It also has a website that is capable of reaching a far greater audience, including people with a disability, people from non-English speaking backgrounds, those with varying education levels as well as older members of the community.

Our Watch’s external suppliers have also benefited from Media Access Australia’s expertise, having been exposed to web accessibility principles and best-practice, they too are better placed to include the needs of all users in the web experiences they create.

“Making content inclusive and accessible is a core value at Our Watch. We want to ensure that everyone, including people with a disability, can access our digital content in a meaningful way. Part of this work involves engaging experts in this area, like Media Access Australia, to help inform and guide this process with our suppliers. Our efforts in making accessible content are on-going and working with Media Access Australia has provided a strong foundation to expand our work.”— Our Watch Director, Media and Communications, Lisa Wheildon.

“Working closely with Media Access Australia, our team was able to gain a deeper understanding of designing and building for accessibility; particularly around the intricacies of keyboard navigation and communicating dynamic page content in accordance with accessibility best practices. Media Access Australia were invaluable in helping us identify improvements to both the design and development to deliver a website that’s a pleasure to use for all audiences” — Hardhat Digital Account Manager, Stuart Aitken.

“As designers it’s important for us to be aware of the challenges faced by disabled people when it comes to accessing information, it’s our job to minimise these challenges and create a more inclusive society.

Working with Media Access we learnt new ways to use the technology that we are using on a day-to-day basis to ensure our design and files are accessible. Their guides were extremely helpful and made our job that much easier.” — Canyon Client Services Director, Zoe Crawforth.

“Technology decisions can often get in the way of accessibility. With the Our Watch project we were fortunate enough to have a client and group of partners that were committed to ensuring CMS and technology decisions didn’t impact the goal of good accessibility. The collaborative approach and expertise from Media Access Australia made our job of meeting this accessibility goal through the technology implementation, very easy.” — Get Started Managing Director, Adam Griffith.

“Accessibility compliance for a web agency shouldn’t just be about ticking the boxes to ‘pass the test’. Having a solid, holistic understanding of accessibility and being able to confidently implement it across both web design and functionality, allows an agency to create an all-inclusive user experience. Enabling ALL users to have a great experience whilst being able to successfully complete tasks on a site with ease is a win-win situation for everyone.

Media Access Australia’s expert understanding of accessibility and their very detailed and thorough approach enabled us to ensure that both accessibility compliance and user experience wasn’t compromised on The Line web project. Working collaboratively with Media Access Australia meant we were able to deliver a successful outcome for The Line, helping them to get their important message and support across to a wider audience — Bliss Media Digital Producer, Sharon Ma.

About Media Access Australia

Media Access Australia, Australia’s only independent not-for-profit organisation devoted to increasing access to media for people with a disability, works with public—and private—sector organisations to improve their digital and web accessibility.

Through its digital accessibility services, Media Access Australia supplies professional services around improving the accessibility of online documents [link is external], website accessibility, organisation-wide accessibility strategy as well as professional development in accessibility.

Media Access Australia also helps increase inclusion through its thought leadership and research in important areas such as social media accessibility [link is external], service provision for people with disabilities [link is external] and cloud computing and mobile accessibility [link is external].

If you’re part of an organisation looking to create greater digital inclusion, contact Media Access Australia by calling (02) 9212 6242 or by completing the enquiry form on our Contact page for more information.