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Tower Hamlets Council: creating an inclusive borough

Tower Hamlets Council serves over 295,000 citizens in the Greater London area, providing a range of services to support businesses and residents. They envision a community where everyone experiences equal access to opportunities.

Seeing value in digital technologies, the council added ReachDeck to their website to help their messages and services reach all residents. ReachDeck has been helping Tower Hamlets residents to access information through accessible content. Read their customer story to hear how they've created an inclusive online experience for their users.

Outcomes

  • Reachdeck helps Tower Hamlets Council ensure their website meets global accessibility standards
  • The accessibility toolbar helps users with visual or literacy impairments to navigate their site
  • The council's digital services are now much more user-friendly

The background

Tower Hamlets Council serves over 295,000 citizens in the Greater London area. The council ensures the provision of services to businesses and residents, and covers an array of different areas - from social care and housing provision, to supporting local businesses and funding community projects.

Their hope for their community is one where everyone experiences equal access to opportunities, and to maintain a borough that residents are proud to live in. They aim to do this by maintaining their position as ‘a dynamic outcomes-based Council using digital innovation and partnership working to respond to the changing needs of the borough’.

The challenge

Tower Hamlets serves a large, multicultural community of diverse backgrounds and accessibility needs. As part of their digital inclusion strategy the council wanted to improve the accessibility of their online services. In particular they wanted to support visitors with literacy challenges, visual impairments, and people whose first language isn’t English.

The solution

As a council aware of the benefits of digital solutions, Tower Hamlets Council saw ReachDeck as a natural addition to their website. ReachDeck's accessibility toolbar is designed to cater for people with low literacy, dyslexia, learning difficulties, English as a second language or mild visual impairments.

Not only does ReachDeck provide translation services, but it also has an easy-to-use text-to-speech function. The audio can be saved as an audio file using the MP3 generator tool, allowing for more convenient listening. Other tools include screen masking, a web page simplifier, and more. Together these functions transform the user’s reading experience.

"We wanted to broadcast our message to as many people as possible, no matter their level of ability", said the council's Digital Officer, Phil Nduoyo. "As a result we decided to use ReachDeck to make our content accessible to all. Now with tighter rules in place, ReachDeck is even more important in helping us meet this requirement."

Lasting impact

The addition of ReachDeck makes it easier for website visitors to access the information they need. It provides a boost of support to those who find reading text or accessing digital information challenging.

According to Phil Nduoyo, the council’s Digital Officer, the accessibility toolbar was particularly successful on their Tower Hamlets Home-seekers website. On the site, home-seekers can login and bid for housing online. Phil explains how the tool is helping a large proportion of site visitors:

Site visits usually include less able visitors who are looking for adapted homes to better their quality of life. The accessibility toolbar delivers the help they need to login, browse and bid for the housing they need. It gives them back their independence.

ReachDeck

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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