RNIB helps fire service become accessible
RNIB enables the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service to become experts in accessible information.
Who: Royal Berkshire Fire Service
What: Supported with training
How: Interactive training modules
Result: Good feedback from everyone
Through customised online training sessions, RNIB has worked with Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS). We taught staff how to make the information on their website accessible to blind and partially sighted people. This training means that all members of the public, including those with sight loss, will easily be able to find the vital safety information they need. Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service has to comply to the WCAG accessibility regulations – meaning all published materials need to be accessible to users with disabilities. Both internal and external audits were needed to make things as accessible as possible.
Engaging with RNIB to understand accessibility as a visually impaired person
Sight loss became a specific area of focus for RBFRS; understanding the needs of specific users or those living with sight loss and taking into account the software they might use. RBFRS was keen to do some training sessions looking not just at accessibility, but what it means to live with sight loss and the barriers that people face in their daily lives. So with RNIB they developed a customised training session to achieve this.
Mark Antell, Senior Communications Officer at RBFRS says: "We really wanted to engage the expertise of RNIB as a world-leading charity in this area, to get that professional knowledge and share the learnings more widely with staff.”
Being able to access vital safety information
The website has a lot of important information on safety advice, that anyone in the community needs to be able to access. Mark says:
“People living with sight loss could be amongst the most vulnerable members of our community, so it’s vital that they can access that information”.
Robin Spinks, Strategic Partnerships Manager at RNIB says: “Our interactive training modules are guided by lived experience and best practice across a wide range of industries.
More interest in accessibility
Mark explains that there was really good feedback from everyone who attended the training sessions and they learned a lot as the trainers explained it all well.
“I’ve certainly noticed some of my colleagues taking more of an interest in accessibility for users with sight loss, so we’re doing more work now to look at our website to ensure that it’s as fine-tuned as possible. Now so many more people are taking a lead on accessibility in their individual departments, which is really good to see.”
RNIB offering crucial feedback
Mark says that understanding how to meet accessibility standards is complex and this is where RNIB’s guidance comes in – working out practically what the steps are and what visually impaired people need to understand from the website.
“It was so helpful having RNIB’s perspective and in the second session the trainer looked through our published materials and website to provide customised advice based on what we offer. RNIB listened to our needs and what we are trying to achieve. The training was really customised to what we do as a fire and rescue service, so we got some very useful tips and advice from that.”
Continuing to improve accessibility
Mark and his team are cascading some of the information from these sessions to staff in the organisation, and ensuring they have more accessible templates to work with.
“These training sessions have given myself and my colleagues more confidence in producing accessible content and now we are advising our colleagues on best practice. The RNIB sessions have helped to give us a strong base of learning."