In March 2015, the Diversity and Inclusion Charter of The Law Society, an independent body in the UK that supports solicitors and promotes professional standards in the legal profession, announced a new set of requirements, including website accessibility and the need to provide inclusive and responsive services to meet the needs of diverse clients.
Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), a global law firm headquartered in London, had signed the Charter in 2011, and making BLP’s web content accessible to a wide audience was part of both BLP’s obligation to the Charter and its general commitment to inclusivity. Website accessibility, as defined by the WCAG2.0 industry guidelines, became a business priority for Megan Bekdache, Senior Digital Marketing Executive at BLP.
"Website accessibility is not talked about as much as it should be in digital space," Bekdache said.
"That perhaps stems from the pressures associated with running complex company websites and the daily need to deliver compelling content for clients. BLP always had accessibility compliance firmly on its radar, but our commitment to the Diversity and Inclusion Charter bumped it to the top of our to-do list."
"With over 6000 pages of content and over 100 different content contributors, BLP needed a system to help spot accessibility problems at a page and content level."
Following a comprehensive audit of their website, BLP and web agency Design UK identified and put in place a number of technical improvements to the site’s code and structure. But more help was needed at a content level.
Need for an accessibility radar
With over 6000 pages of content and over 100 different content contributors, BLP needed a system to help spot accessibility problems at a page and content level. Trying to spot individual problems, such as a missed tag on one of the thousands of images on the site, would be the online equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack, so BLP wanted an early warning radar for accessibility.
"Siteimprove’s website monitoring and task delegation features have long proven useful to us, and so turning to Siteimprove for help on accessibility was a natural choice," Bekdache said.
"The software helped us to quickly target individual accessibility issues on our site so that we could make our site compliant. We are now using it regularly to keep on top of any new issues that can arise when you have dozens of people generating content. It has made a big difference."
Part of a wider focus
Siteimprove played a key role in helping BLP achieve WCAG2.0 A-compliance within three months, with the firm 95% of the way towards achieving AA-compliance. Furthermore, accessibility is now a mandatory aspect of all new web design at BLP and has become a core part of training for the firm’s content editors, with Siteimprove becoming a regular part of BLP’s operations.
"This was an important project for us and Siteimprove were really responsive," Bekdache said. "It was a great experience working with them, and their tools are now just a daily part of how we do our job. It has helped guide us on best practices in content creation and, more profoundly, helped reinforce to our team the importance of accessibility as part of our wider focus on diversity.”
BLP will continue to use Siteimprove to influence further website development work.