Castles & Coasts Housing Association – Accessibility and Inclusion Website Review

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"Great day today with Lucy and Karen. It's always a pleasure to watch experts work and engage with our Resident Scrutiny Panel. We learnt a lot. They're speakers of 'fluent housing', yet able to communicate with clarity and simplicity, we found this session to be both thorough and entertaining. Thank you!" Benjamin Chilvers - Senior Customer Experience Officer, Castles & Coasts Housing Association

At a Glance

Positive About Inclusion was commissioned by Castles & Coasts Housing Association (CCHA) to carry out an accessibility and inclusivity review of the organisation’s website. The brief was to complete a comprehensive review from an EDI perspective, to produce a written report including recommendations and subsequently to deliver a workshop presenting our findings to the organisation’s Resident Scrutiny Panel (RSP).

About the Client

Castles & Coasts Housing Association was created in July 2017 as a result of merging Two Castles and Derwent and Solway Housing Associations. They employ nearly 200 staff, and own and manage more than 7,000 properties in rural and urban communities across the North of England, with around 75% located in Cumbria.

Challenges and Objectives

Castles & Coasts’ Resident Scrutiny Panel had been involved in a scrutiny review of the organisation’s website earlier in the year. Whilst the RSP had established that the website was largely ‘fit for purpose’, they identified that improvements could, and should, be made in terms of access and inclusivity. A website accessibility tool was implemented and the RSP had suggested that independent experts were then commissioned to complete a thorough review. This is where we came in…

Solution

We adopted a multi-method approach to this review. From the perspectives of both EDI experts and ‘end users’ we examined the most commonly visited web pages and at each stage of the review we considered:

  • Visual accessibility and inclusivity – can everything be seen? Are colour contrasts sufficiently bold? Are images effectively described so that screen reader users have the same experience? Is a commitment to diversity demonstrated through the imagery used? 

  • Functional accessibility and inclusivity – can users easily navigate around the website? Are there tools in place to support this? Is the design accessible? 

  • Language accessibility and inclusivity – can users understand the language? Has Plain English been used? Have easy-read techniques been adopted? For example, shorter sentences, active rather than passive tense, etc.

The findings of our review were collated into a report, identifying a number of recommendations. We subsequently designed and delivered a workshop for the RSP to share these results and the actionable insight gained.

Impact

The review established that the website generally presents a positive first impression with an authentic approach towards creating an inclusive organisation. It also identified a range of minor enhancements that would improve the accessibility and inclusivity of the website and these were well received both by RSP members and colleagues at Castles & Coasts.

“Great day today with Lucy and Karen. It’s always a pleasure to watch experts work and engage with our Resident Scrutiny Panel. We learnt a lot. They’re speakers of ‘fluent housing’, yet able to communicate with clarity and simplicity, we found this session to be both thorough and entertaining. Thank you!”

Benjamin Chilvers – Senior Customer Experience Officer, Castles & Coasts Housing Association

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