Equality impact assessment
CABE completed an equality impact assessment of our website in November 2009. Here is a summary of how we conducted the assessment, what we found and the changes we are going to make.
The CABE website is the primary method for communicating with our audiences, at least in terms of sheer numbers.
Throughout 2009-10 the website will see more than:
- 884,000 visits
- 160,000 publication downloads
- 6,000 signups to our email newsletter
Our primary audiences are built environment professionals - planners, architects, urban designers and landscape architects. These are usually aged 30-60 and work mostly in local authorities and private practice.
Secondary audiences include teachers, students, public sector clients and community groups.
We asked various groups and individuals to help us review the site. These included our lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) staff group; a group people from outside CABE who have personal experience of neuro-diversity; the CABE Inclusion by Design (IBD) Group; and staff from diverse social and economic backgrounds who are not built environment professionals.
All were overwhelmingly positive about the website, and had very helpful observations to make it even better.
We also conducted an audit of the images on the site. This suggested that the site needs more imagery of people of different social classes, religions, sexualities and different ages, particularly the very old.
What we found
Our findings are summarised in the bullet points below. Please note: you can cross reference each of the concerns below with the changes we are making to address it. Each change is numbered in the list called ‘What we plan to do by November 2010’. Where concerns are being addressed in multiple ways, of course, you will see the brackets contain more than one number.
- the content is not relevant enough and accessible to some smaller, non-professional community groups such as groups that come together to improve their local public space (see 8, 14, 23)
- content is written for professionals and may exclude younger people (see 14)
- the website may over-represent housing and public space that appeals to young professionals (see 3, 4)
- blind or partially sighted people are excluded from the visual emphasis of the site and may be excluded from accessing and using the site. Although the site is screen-reader friendly, it has not been fully tested and some of our mail-outs do not adhere to RNIB standards (see 11, 13, 15, 16, 17)
- people with learning disabilities may be excluded by the complexity of the language (see 10, 14)
- people with mobility and sight impairments are increasingly represented on the site, but not people with other impairments (see 4, 6)
- there is only limited coverage of disability on the site and it is not referred to outside of specialist areas (see 20, 22)
- people with neuro-diverse profiles may be excluded from accessing and using the site (see 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19)
- jargon may exclude those not familiar with built environment professions (see 14)
- the people represented on the website are overwhelmingly white (see 4, 6)
- our focus is almost exclusively from the minority world (first world) (see 27)
- we do not engage with religion, aside from the Engaging Places edition on sacred spaces. For example, we have no case studies of religious buildings, or buildings with facilities which take faith into account (see 5)
- there is no depiction of sexual minorities or sexual diversity and there is nearly no mention of sexuality, although we know this to be a factor that affects how we experience and use the built environment (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 9)
- there is not enough commentary on the relationship between poverty and the built environment and sustainability. This restricts our professional impact, although the site actively promotes economic equality through our publications and work (see 26).
In addition, we have noted that:
- there is a link between internet use and poverty. Groups who are less likely to access the web in general are very poor people, homeless people, some travellers and gypsies, refugees and people seeking safety and asylum – these groups are not mentioned on the site as users of the built environment
- the site promotes parks and spaces that promote health and well being. This has a positive impact on two key equality strands – class and ethnicity.
- we do not specify which equality groups are more likely to be safe in public space
- our advice does not engage fully with community cohesion.
What we plan to do by November 2010
- Consult LGBT group on photographs to better represent sexuality
- Make more explicit reference to diverse sexuality where it is relevant to our promotion of good practice
- Commission two case studies that have particular relevance to LGBT groups
- Expand our image bank and the guidance on its use to better represent ethnicity, disability, poverty and age, ensuring that the representation of older people increases substantially.
- Commission two case studies that illustrate good design and places of worship
- Conduct a second audit of images to check on progress in December 2010
- Add photographs of heads of service so users can recognise who is making decisions at CABE
- Change our case study guidance to make sure that photos of architectural details have explanations and state what is good and not so good practice
- Identify two issues/storylines from LGBT professionals about their experience of working in the built environment to coincide with LGBT history month
- Research with the help of the IBD Group and others good practice on depicting people with learning disabilities, mental health service users and people with neuro-diverse profiles, and ensure these groups as users of spaces and places are included in case studies and other items as relevant.
- Provide a link to a high visibility version and text resizing controls.
- Provide a site map.
- Move the link to the accessibility statement to the top of the Home page.
- Continue to use language that is not overly idiomatic, metaphorical or technical and which contains subheadings.
- Avoid using elaborate hover treatments throughout
- Investigate better accessibility for audio/video, e.g. high-contrast captions
- Investigate producing rich text versions of all new publications.
- Describe what we are doing for neuro-diversity in our accessibility statement
- Conduct periodic testing with neuro-diverse users
- Set up a platform for a wider discussion of accessibility issues, and ensure greater prominence is given to inclusive design. We will audit “anti-inclusive design” imagery.
- Reconsider the use of capitals in the top navigation
- Include “Areas of work” as direct links from the homepage
- Link to “Areas of work” from “What we do”
- Monitor coverage of inclusive design on other main sections of the site, and ensure thorough coverage
- Monitor usage of the inclusive design pages.
- Integrate Sustainable Cities poverty and sustainability content within CABE
- Develop case studies from a wider range of countries across the world.