This ESRC funded impact acceleration project builds on the successful Supporting Online Justice project which was completed in May 2022, and involved the production of films to help lay users access online hearings. In this new project, we are working in collaboration with HMCTS and the two national not-for-profit umbrella organisations (Advice Services Alliance and the Law Centres Network) which together represent all law centres and a significant proportion of free community-based advice services in England and Wales, including Citizens Advice. The resources will provide much needed support to service providers whose work has become increasingly important in the aftermath of severe legal aid cuts and digital by default policies which often serve to exacerbate existing social, economic and digital divides.
Aims and Objectives
This project brings together the considerable experience of need and access issues within the legal advice sector with the applicants’ existing research and practice on designing inclusive materials. The primary aim is to create a free and easy to use design toolkit which will support resource hungry community legal advice workers in producing customised and accessible resources for their clients. The output will take the form of a series of design templates which can be customised locally; a set of ‘how to’ guides; and best practice exemplars. The toolkit will indicate how resources can be designed in ways that are accessible to people who are neurodiverse, sight or hearing impaired, colour vision deficient, differently abled, signers, MAKATON users, non-native users of English, have limited vocabularies or low reading age. Our approach to designing for inclusion will go beyond ‘disadvantage’ to consider how body shape, age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, culture and customs also alter the way that service users interact with advice agencies.
Description of Activities
The impact acceleration activities will be conducted in five main stages:
1. Consulting front-line advisers and other stakeholders to identify their specific needs and existing best practice in the sector. This will involve up to ten online knowledge exchange workshops with national organisations and front-line advice providers. It will result in coproduction of a design brief.
2. Designing a sample guide for testing.
3. Testing the products with up to ten online knowledge exchange workshops with front line advisers.
4. Re-designing and enhancement of the materials to address issues raised at stage three.
5. Launching the materials and accessible design guidance on an open access dedicated website which will be co-badged with our project partners.
The draft guide is ready for review. If your are interested in giving us feedback, please access the draft guide and the instructions here.