ReachDeck helps Essex County Council support young people with disabilities and additional needs

Essex County Council added accessibility tool ReachDeck to its website to support young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Essex County Council's Local Offer website provides advice to young people with SEND, helping them navigate money matters and independent living. Read on to find out how ReachDeck helped the Council serve the accessibility needs of its web users.


  • Essex County Council adopted ReachDeck to help provide accessible & inclusive services
  • The Council's Local Offer website is designed specifically to help young people with SEND to become more independent
  • ReachDeck now helps Local Offer web users to self-serve online


Essex County Council are committed to providing frontline support and information services for children and young people in the county who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The Essex Local Offer website provides a wealth of information on support services and opportunities for local young people with SEND. The website also offers a vital information point on money matters, higher education and career guidance, and preparing for independent living.

The Challenge

Essex County Council’s Local Offer website is primarily aimed at parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), so there was a critical need for the online information to be fully accessible to each visitor.

On top of that, the Council wanted to bolster its compliance with new accessibility regulations. The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations (No.2) require public sector websites and mobile apps to meet stringent accessibility standards. The regulations aim to make sure these services are accessible to all users, especially those with disabilities, so they can access the information to which they're democratically entitled.

The Solution

The Council chose to implement ReachDeck, a simple yet comprehensive addition to powering up a website’s accessibility. It promotes inclusion by providing easy speech, reading and translation support and helps to increase a website’s suitability for people with Dyslexia, Low Literacy, English as a Second Language, and those with mild visual impairments.

Aimee Clarke, SEND Project Officer at the council comments on the benefits of adopting the ReachDeck tool: “Since January 2019, our service users have accessed the ReachDeck app approximately 3000 times for a range of different activities (the most popular being Text-to-Speech). The translation tool has also been used by visitors with many different language needs.”

ReachDeck is easy to install and equally easy for website visitors to access. We receive regular updates about how well it is being used.

Lasting Value

By introducing ReachDeck to their Local Offer website, Essex County Council are supporting young people with SEND to access information and support on vital issues. The tools ReachDeck provides help users of the Local Offer website to access this information independently. Throughout, Texthelp has supported Essex County Council with integrating and monitoring use of the ReachDeck toolbar.


As well as the accessibility toolbar, ReachDeck's features also include:

  • The ReachDeck Auditor identifies accessibility errors across your website. It highlights WCAG compliance errors at Level A, AA and AAA, and identifies readability errors such as overuse of jargon or long sentences
  • The ReachDeck Editor helps improve the quality and accessibility of written content. As you type, grammar, spelling and readability errors are identified. This helps organisations edit content in line with best practice.

These features identify accessibility barriers quickly and at scale, helping organisations ensure their content can be understood by everyone. 

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