Case Study - Making a website
To make sure our Listen Include Respect guidelines were useful and really addressed the barriers people with intellectual disabilities face we tried to make sure that every stage of creating the guidelines has been inclusive of people with intellectual disabilities.
Being led by an international reference group of experts with intellectual disabilities.
Collecting information through accessible surveys and inclusive consultations
Working closely with paid consultants with intellectual disabilities
Some of the self-advocate consultation groups, from Togo, UK, Colombia, Egypt, Morocco and Ethiopia
In 2021 a first draft of the Listen Include Respect guidelines were shared with our reference group, 10 international self-advocacy organisations and 10 other experts through an inclusive consultation process.
We heard that the guidelines were too long, not accessible and hard to use.
We heard that a website would be the most useful way of sharing the guidelines information.
Our international reference group of people with intellectual disabilities gave us lots of feedback on what an inclusive website would look like.
This gave us a good idea of where to start, but we knew that to be really inclusive the detailed work on the website should be led by a group of people with intellectual disabilities.
Recruitment of website design group:
In 2022 we brought together a group of self-advocate consultants with intellectual disabilities into a working group to lead the work and make decisions on designing the website.
To recruit the group of people with intellectual disabilities we wrote and shared a plain language description of the work that we shared with our Inclusion international and Down Syndrome International networks.
The description included a schedule of meetings with dates, the payment offered to self-advocates and support people, and the expectations for self-advocates and supporters.
We offered to meet with anyone who was interested so that they could find out more about the work.
We invited self-advocates to send in a short video explaining why they were suitable for the group.
Planning the website design meetings:
Harry, Inclusion International’s staff person with an intellectual disability, coordinated the group and their work.
To start the work we planned a schedule of online meetings:
Meeting 1 –Background information and discussion on accessibility
Meeting 2 – Structure and menus
Meeting 3 – Content and using the website
Meeting 4 – Design of the website including images
Meeting 5 – Final check
At least one extra meeting was allowed and budgeted for in case there was a need for more discussion or an extra review session.
We were successful in speaking to people with first hand experience by having focus groups like the website design group by recruiting 3 self advocate consultants to take part developing the new Listen Include Respect website.
I feel the Listen Include Respect is a very exciting opportunity to engage with organisations in making information accessible and how they can involve people with Intellectual Disabilities in the decision making.
I am proud of the work the website group did. Coordinating the group was one of the highlights of my time working with Inclusion International.
Running inclusive meetings:
We followed the Listen Include Respect guidance on running online meetings. In practice this meant:
In the first meeting we decided on consistent times and days that worked for everyone.
We agreed a regular structure for the meetings that worked for everyone.
We shared the agenda and meeting information at least 1 week in advance to give people time to prepare.
We shared clear activities to do in advance, for example a website menu sorting activity.
We shared questions with the agenda which helped people write their feedback that they shared in the meeting.
We sent reminder emails with meeting links and all meeting information the day before.
Each meeting was chaired by Harry with support from other team members.
Each meeting started with an informal, fun icebreaker so people felt relaxed and comfortable.
We remembered to speak in easy, clear language and not use any difficult jargon.
We allowed time for translation.
We kept agendas short and allowed enough time for discussion (1hr -2hrs) but we made sure to respect timings and meetings did not run over.
Harry, as the chair, made sure everyone had a chance to share their ideas and give their feedback.
We offered follow up meetings in case people needed extra time to reflect or wanted to speak in a smaller group.
It was an honour for me to be included in the team. We were working for a good cause - inclusion for all diverse people in different places.
I think the biggest success was being able to do the work together as people with disabilities and without disabilities. Something very good came out of our work for everyone. I felt that my time was respected and my rhythms were understood well.
We faced a challenge when we realized that the guidelines as a PDF was going to be very difficult and it was better to have a web page.
There are many different websites in all countries, some with more images than others and we had to agree which one worked better because not all of us liked some images or drawings. But together we made decisions so that we were all happy.
Every person in the group attended all the meetings. Each person was prepared and gave detailed and useful feedback which helped us to build the website with confidence.
Although sometimes people’s point of view was different, for example around the design of the images, through discussion we were able to reach decisions which everyone was happy with.
Before the final sign off of the group, we sent the website to 8 other international self-advocacy organisations which helped us to get wider feedback.
We hope that the website role models inclusive design to organisations that may not be aware of what an accessible information for people with intellectual disabilities looks like. Our work on this also helped us to create a section on the Listen Include Respect website about creating accessible websites.
There have been challenges due to budget constraints. For example we have heard that more images, videos, a reading aloud feature and translating the website into more languages would be very helpful. We plan on making these changes and updates as soon as funding allows.
We feel that spending money on paying people with intellectual disabilities for their expert feedback from the start has meant that the website was created at every stage with the participation of people with intellectual disabilities. The input and feedback we have received has made sure that the website is useful, accessible and a good example to Inclusion International and Down Syndrome International members as well other organisations.