Barclays: Creating an accessible organisation

Is your organisation thinking about accessibility? Do you provide an accessible working environment for staff and customers? What could you do better to provide this? AbilityNet's TechShare Pro 2018 event featured a popular session on organisational accessibility, with presenters from Barclays and Google.  

In this blog, David Caldwell, senior digital accessibility consultant - who presented for Barclays - gives some top tips on creating an accessible culture at your organisation.

David Caldwell writes:

In 2012, a collaboration with RNIB for the Making Money Talk Campaign led us to become the first UK bank to enable our cash machines to talk. It was to help blind customers and those with sight loss use cash machines without assistance. We had thought about accessibility before, but this led to a real catalyst change at the company.

Talking cash machines really got internal leaders interested. We then began running a one-day immersive programme for leaders called 'Living in a Customer’s World' and started working with the Business Disability Forum for advice on how we could build on what we were doing.

David Caldwell

David Caldwell (pictured above)

There are 80,000 colleagues across the business, 25,000 of who are technologists. The rest are working in a really broad spectrum of positions from those on the high street to others working with complex financial instruments and those in investment banking. Trying to get accessibility embedded in all of that has been a challenge. But there have been wins, such as being the first bank in the UK to do video relay for BSL users in branch.

Accessibility for Barclays staff

There’s a strong adjustments process for staff who might need adaptations in how they work, which colleagues get from the moment they join the company. If there’s something a member of staff thinks they need to do their job, it will be given to them. If you’re dyslexic and you used Read and Write Gold with your last employer, we’ll provide it. There’s no need to see an occupational therapist.

We also work and partner with disability organisations so that if, for example, a member of staff or their manager thinks they might be dyslexic, but they’ve never been tested - we work with them on testing and support.

Barclays also has a couple of programmes that look at employing people with disabilities, who might find it harder to get into the workplace (disabled people are far more likely to be out of work than the average population). Able to Enable is one of the programmes and is part of our apprenticeship proposition.

In addition there is the Purple Champions, an allies programme for disabled staff and those who wish to continue to raise awareness around disability issues.

Accessibility for customers 

Colleagues in customer facing roles receive training in how to interact with and best support customers with disabilities and mental health issues, while colleagues working within our technology departments receive training on how to design, develop and deliver accessible and inclusive products and services.

Then there are our Digital Accessibility Champions who have gone through the baseline accessibility training and additional, more detailed training. The programme primarily, but not exclusively includes those who have tech role, ie developers, designers and testers. We work with them to become champions and develop a closer relationship between them and our in-house accessibility consultants.

We currently have 90 champions on-board and they each get a consultant within the digital accessibility team to go to if they need to know more and understand more about accessibility.

David Caldwell's top five tips on company-wide accessibility:

1. Where to start

The Business Disability Forum (BDF) is a useful place to start. They have an Accessible Technology Charter. We’ve found this very useful for getting leaders engaged and focused. Leaders like frameworks like this as it’s a consistent approach used by other organisations and we can provide data on what other companies are doing.
2. Getting colleagues and leaders engaged

While the messages need to be different for colleagues and leaders, it’s important that you approach things from both angles. Broadly speaking, leaders are interested in things which help achieve organisational goals or objectives e.g. growing the top line, reducing complaints, reducing costs e.t.c. Colleagues are more interested in outcomes for themselves or improving the work they do for others e.g. improving the user experience, building their skillset, reducing effort, for examples.

3. Make it easy

Don’t subject people to standards unless they ask for it – focus on the impact accessible technology can have. Use a culture change approach to embed a new mindset about accessibility. Build tools and process to support colleagues to deliver accessibility consistently. For example, we’ve built a training programme called the Accessibility Academy which is a role-based training programme for colleagues. It includes specific resources for leaders too. We’ve also built accessibility into web development processes to make accessibility easy and deployed test tools to allow colleagues to check their own work.

4. Work with partners

Doing this alone is hard, if not impossible. Find partners who can help at both a strategic and practical level. Generally, this would look like a testing partner and then someone to help them look at the bigger elements of work that need to be done to become more accessible and inclusive e.g. training development/delivery, procurement, deploying testing tools etc.

5. Measuring progress

You can measure progress on accessibility with the BDF’s Accessibility Maturity Model (AMM). There are five steps to go through. They’re used to seeing maturity models for technology and so it feels familiar. The AMM framework provides not only the ‘you’re here right now’ but also a ‘how you can get here’ process.

Related content:

Did you miss TechShare Pro 2018? Here's what you missed.

Want to come to TechShare Pro 2019? Find out more here. 

Make your website accessible here.