Scope website case study: Train-Support-Test strategy – spend your money on training not audits

The brief

Scope have campaigned for over fifty years to change attitudes and opinions about disabled people, to support those that need help with practical advice and emotional support, and to bring ‘everyday equality’.

In 2018, they set a mission to become a truly digital organisation, creating and providing services that can make a difference to the lives of those who need them most.

One of the first parts of this transformation is their new website:

Their goals were to make sure the site worked for every single one of their users, and to demonstrate that great design and great accessibility can go hand in hand – both values we share at Hassell Inclusion.

Although there were knowledgeable people at Scope, they knew they needed help to fill in the gaps and train newer members of the team so they could tackle the project with confidence. So we were delighted when they asked us to provide expert digital accessibility support throughout the project.

Our approach

As Scope had engaged us right from the start of their site creation project, we suggested what for many is a radical approach – our Train-Support-Test strategy. This approach involves focusing budgets on training rather than auditing: training from the outset, enabling the team to test for accessibility issues themselves from the beginning of the product development cycle, and supporting them to learn from fixing the problems they find to avoid making them again.

This approach saves time and money. We allocated much of the budget that they had set aside for the audit of the site on:

  • accessibility training for their teams of developers, designers, content authors, QA testers and product managers
  • embedded support for Scope and their development partner Aqueduct from our experts at key points in the site’s design and development

By enabling the team to find simple accessibility mistakes by testing their own work, and giving them support as the site developed to fix issues as they found them, we empowered them, giving them knowledge and confidence in their own accessibility abilities.  In turn, that gave us confidence that the team would be finding issues as they went along, so the final audit would be less costly as there were would be fewer issues to be documented. In essence, the audit became more of a final ‘rubber stamp’ for accessibility delivered throughout the process.

The outcomes

As Scope and we had hoped, training the team and embedding support at key points (an early design review, and bi-weekly code reviews) resulted in a site that had many fewer bugs in the audit.

This meant there was much less “eleventh hour” accessibility bug fixing, which tends to stress a project just before launch. While the site, launched in February 2019, does still have a few remaining accessibility issues as almost all complex websites will do, Scope are being transparent about these issues and there is already a prioritised action plan in place for these to be fixed.

The site should stay accessible too, as Scope are encouraging their website audience to help them by providing feedback about accessibility issues that could be improved. And, because of our training, Scope now have the knowledge and expertise to make informed choices about the cost-benefits of each suggested improvement, prioritising ones that impact the majority of their users.

The benefits of our approach are clear, as Ceri Balston, Scope’s Head of Digital puts it:

Because of Hassell Inclusion’s comprehensive accessibility training, we now have a team who are far more confident on how to deliver accessible digital experiences. Our new in-house expertise means in future we can test the accessibility of all of Scope’s digital platforms without having to pay for outside help.

That’s what we at Hassell Inclusion call empowerment!

It was a pleasure working alongside the talented people at Scope and Aqueduct to deliver such an amazing result.

If we can do the same for you and your team, please get in touch. We’d love to talk with you.

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