Bequeathed: Cross-company communication and planning delivers accessibility excellence

People often think accessibility is just about getting HTML right.

That is definitely part of it, but it’s often also about getting multiple teams – often in different companies – to come together to share a vision for the accessibility aims for a product, and to work together to deliver to those aims.

You don’t often get to see that story. So we’re delighted to share this video case study of success – of how four companies worked together to create the most accessible Online Will service in the world.

And we’ve even more delighted that Bequeathed’s work to make their service accessible won them a finalist place as Digital SME of the Year in the DL100 awards 2021. Accessibility can pay off in multiple ways…

The start of the journey - setting the right aims

Voiceover: We’re starting off with how you set the aims for a project, which is all about accessibility,
to make sure that everything works well.

Jonathan Hassell: I’ve got Anna Vincent, the Senior Legacy Marketing Manager of the RNIB, with me. She’s going to give us the start of this particular story. So, Anna, for those few who may not know about the RNIB, can you tell us what you do?

Anna Vincent: We’re one of the UK’s leading sight-loss charities and the largest community of blind and partially sighted people.
We’re really here to make sure that having sight loss doesn’t mean how to lose out on life. We recognise everyone’s unique experience of sight loss, so we offer help and support for people who are blind and partially sighted. This can be anything, from practical emotional support, to campaigning for change, our reading services, to the products that we offer in our online shop.
We’re helping support children with sight loss to succeed at school, helping adults adapt and discover new skills, and really helping people of all ages build the skills they need to live and participate equally in life.

Jonathan Hassell: Great. Now, this particular project started because you were looking for a way to help people make a will. Why was that so important for you? Why did you want to find an online way for people to do that?

Anna Vincent: Our role is to remove the daily barriers faced by people with sight loss, and that includes managing your affairs independently. Writing a will is really important, but it’s also seen as expensive, and time-consuming, and something people tend to put off. So, we wanted a service that could open this up to our supporters and our customers, that would address these barriers to make their lives easier and also help continue our work, a third of which is funded by gifts and wills.
An online will-writing platform – that only makes it easier to access everybody, it also enables you to write your will at a time that’s convenient to you, without having to leave your home, which is increasingly important for people who may have difficulties leaving the house, or anybody just with busy lives. It’s a simple will, and the simple will is free, which also removes any concerns around unknown costs. Crucially – it has the potential to be fully accessible.

Jonathan Hassell: So, you’re looking for an online will provider to recommend to people. How did you find Bequeathed? What did you like about their service?

Anna Vincent: Actually, it’s a slightly historical story. We worked with Jon Brewer, who’s the Founder of Bequeathed, many years ago, when he developed Simplify, which was a forerunner for the Bequeathed will-writing platform. We worked in the trial and it worked quite well for us.
So, when he developed Bequeathed and built on the success of that, we were really happy to get involved. We liked that the platform allowed us to offer our supporters the convenience of an online will but with a really clearly legally robust process.
We liked the fact that it clearly identified where people who might need more complex advice from a solicitor rather than trying to push them through the online route, creating potential problems in the future with probate. Our legacy admin manager agreed that it seemed the best possible option out there.
And importantly – really importantly – they were open to working towards ensuring that the platform was fully accessible, which was fundamental to us and for our customers.

Jonathan Hassell: Yes. So, just digging into that a little, why is accessibility so important to you?

Anna Vincent: It’s at the core of everything that we do. It’s just key to removing the daily barriers that hold people with sight loss back. We’re working to create a world where barriers like this don’t exist, and it’s really important we’re able to offer this really crucial life-planning service to everybody who needs it.
We work hard campaigning to get other organisations to meet their accessibility requirements where they can.
And obviously we’re very keen to do that when it’s the sort of service that we’re offering to our supporters and our customers.

Jonathan Hassell: Sure, so this is key for you.

Anna Vincent: Yes.

Jonathan Hassell: How did you communicate that to Bequeathed? How did you make sure that they understood the level of accessibility that you needed?

Anna Vincent: We had many conversations with Bequeathed, looking at this, because it’s not always a straightforward process at all, and it was a new platform. Because it’s so legally robust, it has many layers to it.
Initially, it was based on some accessibility audits we did for them. After looking at those, we agreed that it needed to meet a clear, recognised standard that then could be maintained for future users with sight loss, and all other accessibility requirements. And WCAG 2.1 compliance seemed to meet those needs and was a clear mark of that.
That allowed them to be able to seek out the expertise that they needed to work to deliver this for their platform. In came Hassell Inclusion, and they kept us up to date on their plans as they progressed.

Jonathan Hassell: One of the reasons why I wanted to talk with you is that some organisations out there don’t know how to ask for what they need when it comes to accessibility. Sometimes they forget to ask, and they don’t get what they want, or they ask in a way that really doesn’t necessarily get them what they wanted.
You were quite clear about it. You mentioned WCAG 2.1 AA already.But you also asked us to do some user testing with people with disabilities, on the product. Why was that important to you?

Anna Vincent: It’s important because we understand that accessibility needs can really vary for everybody with sight loss, depending on their condition. So, it’s really important that the platform isn’t just technically accessible but it is user friendly as well. Because it could be compliant but actually is quite hard to use for some people.
So, we engaged the support of our involvement team, who are an internal team who help ensure that we work collaboratively with people with sight loss. They recruited a fantastic panel of user testers for us, to make sure that it really worked in practice.
They recruited people with varying degrees of sight loss so we could really check it out on an individual basis, and they used different tech devices. That was important, as well, so it didn’t just work on laptops, but it worked on phones as well.

Jonathan Hassell: Sure. It’s such a key thing, and it was one of the reasons why we loved working on this project. Everybody, it felt like, was going in the same direction. The aim was not just something that ticked a box to say, “it’s okay with these standards,” but actually something that in practice really worked.

Voiceover: The key thing in this story is being clear about your accessibility aims. Getting everyone on the same page was a really important thing. And, as you’ll see as we go through, this really contributed to success. Making sure that the aims weren’t just for the initial product creation but were for maintenance
and further development too. The third thing there: don’t be afraid to think bigger than WCAG. Think about what your users need. In this case, it wasn’t just “let’s get to WCAG” it was “how do we make sure the experience people have is the one we want them to have?”

We campaign for others to meet accessibility requirements...
so it's important for our services too

  • : Writing a will is really important, but it's also seen as expensive, and time-consuming, and something people tend to put off. So, we wanted a service that could open this up to our supporters and our customers, that would address these barriers to make their lives easier and also help continue our work, a third of which is funded by gifts and wills...

    We work hard campaigning to get other organisations to meet their accessibility requirements where they can. And obviously we're very keen to do that when it's a service we're offering...

    It needed to meet a recognised standard that then could be maintained for future users, and all other accessibility requirements. WCAG 2.1 compliance was a clear mark of that. But we also know that accessibility needs can vary for everybody with sight loss. So, we asked for user testing too, as it's mportant that it isn't just technically accessible but user-friendly as well.
    Anna Vincent, Senior Legacy Marketing Manager, RNIB

Our approach - a plan to bring all the suppliers together

Voiceover: We’re now going to go and look at things from Bequeathed’s perspective, which is how Bequeathed actually took what the RNIB wanted, and delivered something that worked really well.

Jonathan Hassell: So, I’ve got Bequeathed’s chief operating officer, Pier Thomas with me to tell the next part of the story from their perspective. So, Pier, for those who don’t know very much about Bequeathed, can you tell us what you do?

Pier Thomas: Bequeathed is a legacy fundraising company. We actually provide UK consumers with a unique solicitor developed online platform which enables you to confidently write your own will.
And so, people ask why is this important? Well, research in 2020, by Canada Life, indicated that some 59% of UK adults do not have a will. And having an up to date will, is absolutely essential to ensure that your final wishes are carried out.
Our Will for Good service – we provide a free online will service that also raises money for good causes. So, you start online, complete the interview, and then subsequently, you will receive legal advice from an accredited firm.
What does that mean? It means it’s good for you, it’s good for your family, it’s good for your friends, and it’s also good for charities.

Jonathan Hassell: As somebody who made a will about 5 years ago, I feel both too late because I should have done it earlier,
and too early, because I didn’t know about you at the time, and I would have been using you at that point. So, thank you for what you’re doing. You were working with the RNIB, trying to get this to be an accessible service, so they could recommend it.
When we started working on this together last year, I recall you had an accessibility audit that had been done, a year previously.
Was that enough to know how far away you were from the sort of accessibility that you wanted in the product?

Pier Thomas: No, for a couple of reasons. One is, it was a year out of date, and a lot had changed in that year.
But it also told us about making specific individual changes to our system. What it didn’t give us was an indication of what that would mean. And that’s really, we would want- I suppose, in some ways, we were looking for what is the rubber stamp.

Jonathan Hassell: Yeah, absolutely. So, and the other challenge, and again, people don’t tend to talk about this so much, but it’s so important, you don’t have an in-house development team. You work with other companies on your software development. So, can you just tell us about those relationships?

Pier Thomas: Yes. We’re a small business. But what we have done is we’ve worked with Tier 2, a software development company,
as well as Exari experts to develop the platform since its inception over 6 years ago.
So, just for those who aren’t aware, Exari is a document generation system, and that powers the online will interview. And Tier 2 built an application which enabled users to interface with the platform, and with Exari, the engine.

Jonathan Hassell: The great thing about this from my perspective is what you’ve just said sounds very real. Most of the time, when people think about accessibility, they think about getting HTML right on a website. What you’ve been talking about is multiple organisations who were working on multiple aspects of a solution, and trying to work out how all of those people can get all of the work that they do to result in an accessible experience for users.
That’s real-world, that feels very 2021, there’s nothing theoretical about that. That’s a real challenge.
So, you needed to understand what that challenge was, to scope it, and to understand what level of accessibility
might be achievable, and within a reasonable timescale and budget. I’m guessing that may be one of the reasons why you came to us for help? As I say, we come into the story at this point. What were you looking for, from an accessibility partner, to help you?

Pier Thomas: Well, we already had, as you rightly pointed out, the audit. So we had a bit of paper with lots of things that we ought to do. But what it didn’t translate into us was what did this mean in terms of what we were going to achieve.
So we wanted someone, an expert to provide advice, to help us define what our accessibility objective was going to be, and that was, in fact, WCAG 2.1 AA. Then to work with us on a plan to actually achieve this goal, and to provide the appropriate support during the project.

Jonathan Hassell: Yeah.

Pier Thomas: So, we actually approached one of our existing customers, who had previously worked with you.
You’d done a project with them, and what we really liked about the work you had done, was about changing the culture,
and making accessibility part and parcel of how they approach their workload. So, that was one of the things that I certainly remember.

Jonathan Hassell: So often, companies say, “Could you test our product?” And then you don’t hear from them ever again
and you don’t know if you just gave them, as you said, that bit of paper, that oftentimes, makes people just a little bit uncomfortable or like, “Oh, gosh, we’ve got all those things wrong, or whatever.”
What we like is to help people get it right. So, we were delighted when you came to us and you said, “We don’t want you to test this thing. We want you to help us plan for how we can get this thing to where we want it to be.” That was music to our ears.
When we were trying to put that plan together for you, we knew that yes, we’d need to provide some support. And there would be some testing at the end to check that we’d got there. But the key thing really at the start was scoping the plan, trying to work out how long it was going to take, who was going to do what? What approach was going to work? And so, we put a plan to you.
You obviously liked it, that’s why we’re talking today, what did you like about the plan?

Pier Thomas: A couple of things. The ability to work in a phased manner because that would enable us to manage our costs, but also to manage our timetable. The training that you were offering to the development company because that would be something that would stay with them. Your approach of ensuring that accessibility would become part of how we approached development. So, not just for during the project timeframe, but also, in the future.

Jonathan Hassell: Absolutely. We’re here to empower. That’s the way we like to do things. That means that after the project ends, yeah, you don’t need us anymore. That’s what success looks like for us. So, there was an internal team looking at the design as well, can you just take me through who the team were, who made this happen with us?

Pier Thomas: I think to do that, let me just step back slightly because, although we initially considered accessibility, if you want to call it, in isolation. We would just box off what we needed to do to make our system accessible, and that’s what we were going to do.
But what we quickly recognised that even to do that box exercise, there was significant changes required. We paused, and we then thought this is potentially an opportunity to greatly improve the user experience. So, we then decided we would rethink the online will interview process, and we would also look at changing the look and feel of the user interface, because bearing in mind, it’s over 6 years old, which in today’s world, is a long time. So, our objective then became to rebuild the front-end with accessibility at the core, to achieve the AA standard. So, we shifted from accessibility on its own, to a much broader, more complicated, and a much bigger project than we had originally envisaged.
So, our next decision was to ensure that we had the right expertise. I’m a great believer in the team being greater than the sum of its parts. So, I believe in get the right people around the table, you are likely to get a better outcome, working together, that is. So, we put together a team of specialists, which is one of the reasons we came to you. Obviously, we have a longstanding and a good relationship with Tier 2. They understand our system inside out, so that was another important part. We’ve got our Exari experts that we’ve been working with for a long time. They understand the interview inside out. And we also then went and found a company called NDP who are UI UX experts. And to crown it all, we put in place a project manager, who managed it on a day-to-day basis. So, I could step back and have much more, I suppose, of a management role, and also, because I’m not involved in it day to day, it’s easier to view the project in its totality.

Jonathan Hassell: When I heard that it was like, actually, we’re going to relook at the design, and just check to see could this be improved at the same time. Spot-on. I mean, massive kudos to you and the team for, yeah, taking something which some companies would just think of as almost cynical on occasions, out there: “I’ve got to do this accessibility thing. I’m doing it under sufferance.” We never felt that once from you. It always felt very creative, and taking the user experience for everybody up a level, which is great.

Jonathan Hassell: So I’ve got Tier 2’s Project Manager Ellie Watters with me to tell the next part of the story, from their perspective. Ellie, you’ve been Bequeathed’s trusted development partner for years now. Can you tell me about Tier 2?

Ellie Watters: We are a team of expert software developers. We help customers in a lot of industries and sectors
to build custom software solutions. Some of them, like this one, are end to end. They’re entire projects, where we’re part of the design, the requirements gathering, we develop and we deploy into production. For others, we’re more consultative.

Jonathan Hassell: So can you tell us the level of accessibility knowledge you had at the start of this project?

Ellie Watters: We emphasise user experience in all of our solutions. It’s really important to us that usability is a key part of any solution or any application that we build. But this was the first time that we had been given a requirement to build to a double-A standard. So it was really good for us to be working on a collaborative team, where we had a subject matter expert in how to achieve that standard.

Jonathan Hassell: The first thing that we did was, we tried to work out how we could help. It’s great to have a subject matter expert, but we want to be an expert in helping where you need the help. We could see, already, at the start of it, that your team, your developers, had some skills. Some things were definitely right in the product at the start of this improvement project.
We figured that a little bit of training would be good, but also some remote support. What we find, a lot of the time, is that training gets you to a great place, but there’s always that thing that you didn’t ask at the training, that you then realise is really important, a little bit later. So how was that working for you?

Ellie Watters: It worked incredibly well, Jonathan. You provided training, in the beginning, to our development team, but also, our testers. This solution, rather than being fixes to an existing website, was building accessibility into a brand new front-end for the application, which meant that accessibility was at the core of how we developed this… allowing our developers the opportunity to learn the very specific techniques needed to build an accessible solution from the ground up…
It was, actually, really interesting for our testers to be part of that training as well, because it meant that, before we even provided any functionality for our test cycles to start, with Hassell and with Bequeathed, we were confident that the level of accessibility in our coding met at least the minimum required standard. Then, as you mentioned previously, having a subject matter expert on hand during our development cycles was really important, because it meant that implementation details for particularly tricky pieces of functionality could be just discussed up front. We could get some really good advice on the best way to implement accessibility,
Having Graham available to test each piece of functionality as we brought it through, and to highlight any even smaller changes that we could make to improve the accessibility standard, before we’d reached a point where we’d developed the entire product, was incredibly helpful. That collaboration seemed to work very well and was really valuable for us.
I think the other element which did really have an impact, personally, on me, and the members of the development team who viewed those sessions, was having the ability to sit in and watch real users, so real disabled users, who have different needs from the application, using what we’d built. It allowed us an insight into how it feels to navigate through an application. There is a sense of pride when you hear people saying that you’ve done well and what you’ve built helps them. But it also is incredibly impactful, looking forward, into seeing what the real challenges are for people who aren’t sighted or mouse users.

Jonathan Hassell: It’s great that you mention that, because we feel it’s massively important. There’s something about user testing that makes everything real.

Pier Thomas: It’s almost impossible for someone without a disability, like myself, to truly appreciate the difficulties a person with a disability has when using any website. So, having users with a range, and we didn’t go for just sight loss, which is obviously, what RNIB are focused on, but we looked at users across a broad spectrum. So, we had dyslexic, we had people with motor impairment, we had autistic, and we also had older users, and what they did was, by them actually- us being able to see how they use our system, it highlighted what accessibility really means. But it also identified some of – and at this stage, they were minor, fortunately – the sort of minor tweaks that needed to be achieved from a practical perspective. Added to that, it gave RNIB the confidence that this new service would be accessible.

Jonathan Hassell: As the person who was working with you, putting that user testing together, again, it was just so good that. It felt really massively inclusive which I think will bear real dividends going forwards with the product because you find so much more out about it.

Pier Thomas: Our customers are charities, and a lot of charities either support various users with disabilities, or they have supporters who themselves have disabilities. And so, whilst we started off with RNIB – because they were really the impetus for the project, and the focus was sight loss – it became really clear, very quickly, that by going for WCAG, the AA standard, that we could actually make this accessible to a much, much broader range of users.

Jonathan Hassell: Which also included one of those users in the user testing who was older. And presumably, older people are probably slightly more of your audience because people my age and younger, just don’t think about wills yet.

Pier Thomas: You’d be surprised. What we found is last year, that the average age came down significantly, because a lot of people were suddenly- one, they had time because they were at home, but also, they were being impacted by losing friends and family, and it suddenly brought home to people the realisation that if something was, unfortunately, to happen to them, where would that leave their loved ones?

Jonathan Hassell: What was the hardest part of this to make accessible? Looking back on it now, from the end, was there one part where you thought, “Gosh, how are we going to get through this?”

Ellie Watters: On an accessibility project, we have a very clear criteria, a requirement that we need to meet. That is the double-A standard. There is an element, because the standard covers any application – any web application – of subjectivity within that criteria. One of the hardest parts was knowing when to stop. So knowing when you’ve met the standard, and when to release your first version. I think part of the difficulty there is that, in the tech industry, anyway, you should never stop developing. We never stop developing and improving and learning.
The industry of accessibility, also, there are constant improvements and innovations in how to help people who need support in using the internet the same way everyone else does. One of the hardest parts, as you well know, because you were on this with us, is knowing when to stop that first release, and accepting that there will always be improvements.
The reason that this project got across the line, I think, in such a smooth way, was having experts who knew where that line was. I mean, you were part of the team that wrote the standards, so having experts who could tell you where to stop was really integral to that.

Jonathan Hassell: A lot of people have a different problem, actually, than the one you had on that one, in the sense that you had a richness of feedback. So you have all of the technical feedback, in terms of how to get to WCAG 2.1 AA, but you also had the user feedback, some of which really isn’t touched on in WCAG 2.1AA. So a lot of projects out there, because they don’t do the user testing, they don’t even know that there is more that can be done.

Voiceover: Some key things to pull out of there… Scoping the size of the task, seeing what is feasible. And, like Bequeathed did, not being afraid to take accessibility improvements as an opportunity to improve
the experience for everybody. People have been asking about Return on Investment. That’s a place that
you can get a lot of that. This product is now better for everyone. Work out what’s feasible in your time and budget. Create a phased plan to keep you on track. The training and support was really important for Ellie and all of the devs on her team. And also they really appreciated us training their testers, so they could be testing things themselves, rather than relying on an external company like ours. And fundamentally, and you’ll see it as we come all the way through, user testing is not just a great way of proving to the client that you’ve actually achieved what you wanted to achieve, but it’s also really motivational for the team.

We already had an audit. We needed a plan...

  • : We already had an audit with lots of things that we ought to do. But it didn't say what to do in terms of what we needed to achieve. We needed an expert to help us define what our accessibility objective was going to be, and then to work with us on a plan to actually achieve this goal, and to provide the appropriate support during the project.

    What we really liked about Hassell Inclusion, was about changing the culture - training and supporting us to make accessibility part and parcel of how we approach our workload, not just during the project timeframe, but for the future...
    Pier Thomas, Chief Operating Officer, Bequeathed

The outcomes - knowing when you've done enough and communicating that to achieve ROI

Voiceover: This is how this ended up. This is the final result, and what made the difference.

Jonathan Hassell: You must be delighted with the result. I think everyone else on the project is.

Ellie Watters: We are absolutely delighted. Actually, it’s interesting that you mention the user testing, because part of that delight comes from having seen people using it, and knowing that there will be many, many more people who can have access to what they deserve to have access to from the project. But I’m very proud to be part of the team that built this. I work with some incredible people and we’ve been able to collaborate with some incredibly skilled people on this as well.

Jonathan Hassell: Yes, I think everyone on the project is proud, and I think justifiably so.

Anna Vincent: The feedback that we got from the individuals using it, and the feedback we’ve had since… And obviously there’s the technical – we’ve got the stamp, we’ve got the form that says it’s accessible… But it really is in practice as well.
We’re getting much more interest in it and increased visits to our site, and we’re able to promote it to our volunteers and our staff, as well, and really sharing the confidence that, when they get there, they’ve got a really good service that they can use. Because the minute it isn’t properly accessible, or someone has a bad experience, that could really colour it for everybody else. So, it’s really important that it genuinely works well. And it does, I’m pleased and relieved to say.

Jonathan Hassell: We also created a couple of- I guess more like those paper documents for you, really. Something called a VPAT, a voluntary product accessibility template, and an accessibility statement for your service. Do you think those are going to be helpful for you in enabling people to understand what you’ve been able to achieve in accessibility on the service?

Pier Thomas: The immediate use of it was with RNIB, because our agreement, having set the bar, if you want to call it that, at the AA standard, the accessibility statement and the VPAT demonstrated that we had achieved that. That was a huge tick in the box. And the accessibility statement, it’s on our website, available for everyone to see, and we promote it. If asked, we can easily now demonstrate to potential customers, that we have achieved the AA standard.
The VPAT is a little bit more technical and maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but certainly, the accessibility statement says in simple English, what we’ve achieved. And that is definitely something we will use.

Jonathan Hassell: Yeah. Actually, that’s the reason why we suggested having both. The VPAT, some organisations require it, and you’re absolutely right, it is quite a complicated technical document. And it’s almost like the accessibility statement is the one for everybody else. The other thing you asked us to do was to record some demonstrations of the product. So, our developer lead who was advising you in this and is a real expert screen reader user, and user of all of the other technologies that people who have disabilities might be using, recorded those for you. Why did you want those? Why are they helpful?

Pier Thomas: Because there’s nothing like seeing it for yourself. So, we could explain that this- if you go onto our website, and you click here, that means it’s accessible, whereas by actually being able to show charities a live demonstration, an example of what we’ve achieved to make our service accessible for their supporters, and for anyone who wants to make a will, I mean that picture tells a thousand words. So, that was really, because it makes it much easier to explain what accessibility is about.

Jonathan Hassell: Not all organisations understand that they need to get across what they’ve achieved in a form that people can really understand. For a lot of organisations, it’s like we got there, that’s enough. You went that extra mile, and again, I think that shows to charities really, really well, they can trust you.

Jonathan Hassell: Were there any particular challenges that were the hardest to get past in the project, for you?

Pier Thomas: Absolutely. I mean, this project, initially when we thought about it just being accessibility, we thought, a couple of months, ticking the box, finished. When we extended the project, as we did, it actually took- it was just over a year from start to finish. So, managing a project of this size and it was very complex, there’s always going to be challenges. There’s going to be challenges around scope, around budget, around timetable, and this is where having a really good collaboratively working, really good team, comes into play. Because the times when we were faced with issues which appeared to be complete road blockers, we sat down and worked together. We identified potential options. We discussed them in detail. And then we came up with a solution which could be implemented. So, certainly, as I say, it’s not without its challenges.
The other thing, this came after, at the end of the project, around the PR message, because we wanted to communicate the great work that’s been done, but we didn’t want to state it and give the impression that the service is going to be accessible for absolutely anyone. There’s always caveats around these, and so, it was trying to get the balance right. We think we have, and we hope we have, but yes.

Jonathan Hassell: Yeah, I think you did a great job on that. A lot of organisations would have been quite happy to just put WCAG and that’s the end of their communication. But the conversations I think over email in terms of exact wording and all of those sorts of things were really important for this.

Jonathan Hassell: I feel this is a real success story. I think not only has the result been the right one for everybody, but I think that’s because the way we all went about it was so collegiate, if you like. We all had the same aim and we all had the respect between us to just say, “Okay, you do this bit. You do this bit, and we’ll make sure that this combination of organisations gets us to where we want.”

Anna Vincent: I think one of the keys to that was there was a very clear plan at the outset, as well, about how it would be delivered. That was really thought about, because there was a lot of work to do. It made sure that we all knew that things were progressing and had been tested, technically and by our users. I think that made everybody confident with the end result, so thank you. It’s brilliant and it has given us something that I don’t believe is available… I don’t think there’s a fully accessible online will-writing product out there at the moment, other than this, other than Bequeathed.
It’s, kind of, future proofed as well. that was one of the concerns we had: that it would be made to be accessible in that moment, but then in a year’s time, or six months’ time, it’s an ever-changing platform because things change. They’ll be tweaking it and then we’d slip. Suddenly, six months down the line, it was no longer accessible. But I think, because of the way it has been set up, then we’ve got the reassurance that that will be maintained over time so we don’t need to do this again in such a grand scale, we can just maintain it.

Jonathan Hassell: I want you to think back now. Say there was an organisation out there who has got this ahead of them. At the start, it probably seemed a little daunting. You didn’t have all of the skills in the team to get to where you wanted to be. Now we’ve come to the end, what would you say to other people who are at the start of these things? What made the difference in terms of getting you such a great result?

Ellie Watters: Having the right people to collaborate with, I think, is incredibly important. Having the skillset within the team – the basic expertise within the team – for software development made it a bit easier for the team to take on the training that had been provided, and implement it.
Having subject matter experts who can guide and advise on particular pieces of difficult implementation – so really key pieces of functionality that are essential to the design of a product. We had quite a few that we agreed, in the beginning, would be difficult to develop accessibly. But with the support of Hassell Inclusion, we, throughout the project, were able to bounce off each other and make sure that we could achieve what Bequeathed needed – for their functionality, but also an incredibly accessible application for users to use.

Pier Thomas: I think what enabled us to be successful is spending the time… make sure you’ve got the right team, that they have the right experience you’re looking for… And communication. I mean, without that, you just would never have a successful project. Some of the people we dealt with on the project, are very technical and constantly bringing it back to a language which was understood by everyone. So, we have to make sure everybody was on the same page, and it was constantly reinforcing, making sure that we understood what our objective was.
Checking in, every now and again, are we still on track? What’s changed, what hasn’t?
But the real key were two things, a good team, and great communication.

Jonathan Hassell: That’s great, thank you.

Voiceover: The secret to success is to assemble the right team of experts, and get that communication working.
There was a lot in there as well about communicating accessibility achievements in ways different audiences can understand. So VPATs are massively important for organisations that require them. But they’re difficult to read. So how do you go about doing that for other people? So demonstration videos and things like that. And, finally, that point that you might have missed from Anna: Don’t forget to measure the impact on your users and
your business. What has accessibility actually won you? More people are using the site. These sorts of things
are massively important for you to go from there.

The hardest part was knowing when to stop...

  • : The reason that this project got across the line, in such a smooth way, was having experts who knew where that line was. I mean, Hassell Inclusion were part of the team that wrote the standards. So having experts who could tell you where to stop was really integral to that.

    We are absolutely delighted, having seen people using it, knowing that there will be many, many more people who can have access to what they deserve because of the project. I'm very proud to be part of the team that built this.
    Ellie Watters, Project Manager, Tier 2 Consulting