CDS and University of Cambridge to host digital inclusivity workshop

CDS explores why an inclusive strategy is important, what inclusive design really means and how to test with users in context

CDS has partnered with the University of Cambridge and SimpleUsability to offer a digital inclusivity workshop for the sector’s professionals on September 24, in line with this month’s deadline for all public sector organisations to make their websites accessible.

With business owners and experienced professionals often in danger of having a nonchalant attitude towards inclusivity this free-to-attend, interactive session is designed to equip them with the knowledge and tools to ensure their messages reach the right people, in the right manner.

Forming part of this year’s Leeds Digital Festival and hosted by CDS – the communications agency trusted by Social Work England and the Metropolitan Police – the session will examine the role inclusivity should play in every stage of the communications process, with immersive elements delivered remotely by the University of Cambridge.

The institution has adapted its traditional, face-to-face training programme – which ordinarily features several experiential elements – to fit with this new, digital forum. And has found innovative ways to simulate the feeling of visual exclusion for delegates.

CDS’ in-house inclusivity team will first look at why accessibility matters, what it means from a communications perspective, what consumers want and expect, and how organisations can start to make a positive impact as a result.

This is followed by an interactive session, led by Sam Waller from the University of Cambridge’s ‘Inclusive Design Toolkit Team’, exploring how visual inclusivity can be measured and looking at the criteria design assets must pass to ensure absolute clarity.

Finally, Judith Doherty and Cheyenne Ritfeld from SimpleUsability will discuss the rapid shift to remote and online testing, alongside the importance of testing with real users in context.

Commenting on what attendees can expect from the event, Lucy Beldon, planning and inclusivity lead at CDS said: “Inclusion, purpose, accessibility and diversity have all been sharply brought into focus during the COVID-19 outbreak – and there has never been a more significant time to embrace inclusivity.

“Business owners and experienced professionals sometimes have a nonchalant attitude towards inclusivity, believing they know their customers inside-out. Yet, this is often the most dangerous approach of all, because unless you embed inclusive and user-centric practices into every stage of your process – from campaign planning, to design and user testing – there is no way to truly understand your audience.”

 Sam Waller, from the University of Cambridge, added: “Participants within our interactive session will assess e-commerce images and a map to see how well they communicate their critical messages. The images will be assessed on large screen devices, and image blurring will be used to simulate the challenges of viewing the images on mobile screens. This is particularly beneficial for proofing artwork within preliminary design stages.”

Judith Doherty, business development director at SimpleUsability, concluded: “To plan and deliver truly inclusive communications, you need to understand the needs of a broad cross-section of people. However, it’s not always straightforward. How can you ensure the most vulnerable people in society are represented? And, in an increasingly digital world, how can we ensure that those with less digital confidence and capability aren’t left behind?

“Testing campaigns and sites with your end audience, and making sure you include users with literacy, accessibility, assisted digital and other specific needs as part of that, will help keep you on the right track. We’ll be discussing how you can involve your audiences in research and how to practically reach them at a time when so much of what we do is remote.”

The free-to-attend workshop takes place from 09:00-11:15 on Thursday 24 September and registrations are now open via Eventbrite.

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