Broken Hill City Council
Broken Hill City Council decided to put accessibility at the heart of their new website, and was able to see results that strengthened the culture of their staff and community.
Broken Hill City Council is in the far west region of New South Wales, in an isolated location with a population 8 years older than the national average. Website accessibility was something they needed to work on as the Disability Inclusion Act was implemented.
Like many councils in NSW, Broken Hill City Council had to develop a 4-year action plan that would make their website accessible and inclusive to their entire community.
When searching for a new website platform, Luke Dart and a small project team wanted something that would give them the accessibility features they needed and be easy for staff to use. OpenCities provided an intuitive platform that was WCAG 2.0 compliant and had several included features that gave the council what it needed to:
- Provide content in different languages
- Make certain that links are never broken with a broken link checker
- Be mobile first
- Structure website content for accessibility and add image ALT tags, allowing text to speech solutions
With an older population, many of the staff members at Broken Hill City Council were related to, or personally connected to someone in the community who needed diversity, disability or inclusion services. Their hearts were in their work, which helped them thrive during training exercises that focused on skills that would make their new website accessible.
After great anticipation, and staff members waiting to provide new and better online services, Broken Hill City Council’s website was launched, and the response has been overwhelming.
“When we focused on creating a high-level user experience, it removed the barriers to entry and access for all our users. We started to understand that when we built better online experiences, using the features in OpenCities, we covered everything, including accessibility,” said Dart.
When considering the time staff previously spent helping residents with council services in person compared to the same services that are now offered online, the council has saved over $25,000.
A local radio announcer, who is visually impaired, was able to use text to speech software to easily receive and announce Broken Hill City Council news releases.
Color contrast issues have been eliminated through staff training and changing primary colors from black and orange to a more accessible color palette of blue and white.
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We were grateful to find the OpenCities platform, which gave us the features to easily provide access and inclusion to all residents of Broken Hill City Council. Not only have we changed the way we provide services to the community, but we’ve shifted the way we think about accessibility in our council – putting it at the heart of everything we do.