AXSChat Podcast

AXSChat Podcast with Richard Morton, Head of Accessibility at the UK Central Digital and Data Office.

August 02, 2021 Antonio Santos, Debra Ruh, Neil Milliken talk with Richard Morton, Head of Accessibility at the UK Central Digital and Data Office.
AXSChat Podcast
AXSChat Podcast with Richard Morton, Head of Accessibility at the UK Central Digital and Data Office.
Show Notes Transcript

Richard is Head of Accessibility at CDDO (Central Digital and Data Office). He focuses on building accessibility capability and culture in central government and the wider public sector through Accessibility Empathy Lab sessions, clinics, training, talks and webinars, and manages the cross government accessibility communities.

Until April 2021 the accessibility monitoring and capability functions were within GDS (Government Digital Service), and this work now continues through CDDO. 

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Neil Milliken: hello, and welcome to axschat i'm delighted that we're joined today by Richard Martin, who is the head of accessibility at the.

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Neil Milliken: Central digital and data office part of Cabinet Office which is the central part of the UK Government coordinating all of the other government departments it's great to have you on.

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Neil Milliken: So.

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Neil Milliken: Richard how did you end up working in the field, because this is something we always ask our guests, is what was your journey into accessibility.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Okay well thanks Neil thanks for inviting me and I i've been working on it for a long time, starting in mainframes actually a long, long time ago.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: and moved into PCs eventually into web work and at one point someone asked me about testing, so I started seeing some general web compatibility testing and then asking about.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Accessibility testing, and it was it was kind of a natural progression, if you like, I didn't really know anything about accessibility to that point, but I learned pretty quickly, I was a contractor and to learn so that's how I got into it from there on I kind of specialized in that area.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: I did do some web design and development but fairly low level small organization smaller clients, but I found much more sort of.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Work available doing accessibility audit against particular web content accessibility guidelines and other standards something in section 508 that's one thing.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: So that's that's how I got into the role, if you like, and then I had the opportunity to do some work for gds by an obvious go now just over five years ago and.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Since then i've you know stuck at it and I became a civil servant.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: yeah so carried on specializing in the area yeah.

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Neil Milliken: And and.

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Neil Milliken: I think it's an area that most of us have our, as you said you grew up and went to school in the 70s, I can relate.

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Neil Milliken: Have have fallen into it's not something that you know we grew up going, you know i'm going to be an accessibility specialist when I grow up.

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Neil Milliken: Hope hopefully that will change, you know, hopefully, a new generation will think this is a career but.

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Neil Milliken: So what keeps you in it, because that's The other thing is, you know you can you can fall into it, but a lot of us don't just fall into it, we really immerse ourselves in it.

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Neil Milliken: And it's a it's a it's a topic that we become really passionate about so So yes, you were doing testing, yes, you moved into it and started specializing but what what What was it that kept you interested.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: I guess the variety, you know i've heard it so many websites across so many different types of organization and things like that there's such a variety.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: But then taking on other things like running training running awareness sessions writing guidance decision, a variety of work in this area it's just fascinating stuff and you know, become more passionate about it as as I go along.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: And, and the main I guess when the main drivers is my kind of frustration that this stuff still hasn't been sold, you know 25 years after the disability discrimination act.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: And you know the Web was built to be accessible and yet it's not and I know, things are a lot more complex now than there were back in the early days.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: But the pace of change with web and other things documents just hasn't reflect itself in making them accessible and accessible it just hasn't been built in, if you like, which is.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: is where my passion lies is building capability building a culture of accessing let's see it's not it's not so much these days about the technical side of it, you know my technical skills.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: are still there, but I don't use them on a day to day basis i'm not doing you know coding and i'm not looking at aria very much things like that i'm looking much more it's the.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: cultural change and organizational change structural change that sort of thing yeah yeah that.

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Neil Milliken: makes perfect sense to me my accessibility technical skills are busy atrophying is I think about the organizational impact and how we can.

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Neil Milliken: Do stuff at scale so much more on the strategy side of things, these days, and Tokyo strategy, you know why is digital accessibility so important to the public sector, I mean, I think we.

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Neil Milliken: probably already know, but but it'd be good to hear from from your point of view, why why government and public thicknesses is so important.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: yeah sure I mean I think so much information and somebody says the an hour they're completely digital or predominated sure.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: That it's it's has become more important, even more important digital access, but you know always was important.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: But everyone expects to be able to do things electronically, they need to want to want to do right now, they need to do on mobile devices, where they are.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: So it's vital it's built in, and when you think about the public sector in particular.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: it's it's even more important, because you know, for example, if I want to arrange a boat waste collection or renew my passport or.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Or have you even do planning application I can't sort of go through Google search find a provider and then it's a then accessible go to the next one, I don't have a choice.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: You know there's only one organization, I can go to renew my passport, which is Home Office, so the you know, we talk a lot about the concept of the clicker a pound in.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: In electronic retailing and stuff and that's that's great it's a really useful.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: analogy that people can click away and goes to other things, but they can't be the public sector, so it doesn't just doesn't apply, so it has to be accessible there's no option and people have to use government services whether they're local government or central government.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Also it's it's vital to think about how we make effective use of public money, you know the government costs a lot to run, but it has to be spent effectively we can't.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: You know, deal with fixing accessibility failures all the time when that money could be better spent on getting it right in the first place, building in size this last time as well.

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Debra Ruh: Richard Thank you so much for being on the program we really, really appreciate it and i'm joining from the states i'm joining from Virginia and I know that.

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Debra Ruh: When we when we were updating our five away law and it's funny when I heard you say five away.

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Debra Ruh: I not everybody these days in the accessibility field always knows about fluctuate so I can tell when somebody knows that that there they have a little bit more.

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Debra Ruh: understanding of what's happening in the world, but I know that when we, as a country we're.

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Debra Ruh: Working on five oh wait, we decided to make our government figure it out first and then everybody else would follow suit, even though we gave our government, no, you know money or training or support doing it's like good luck.

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Debra Ruh: you're doing it wrong, by the way, but it's it's just you know it's we really needed our government, which is our largest employer in the United States.

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Debra Ruh: To if they could figure it out, then we felt the rest would follow in some of that has happened, of course, our lawyers have stepped into but how is the regulation about accessibility, having a positive life on procurement and people's lives.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Think it's certainly making people much more aware of the need to consider accessibility.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Regulations been around a long time in terms of things like the Equality Act.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: And the disability discrimination act, but more recent regulation thinking about the public sector bodies accessibility regulations in the UK and across the rest of Europe as certainly raised awareness of it.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: You know and we're still at the case where.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Women run basic training and demonstrations.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: It still is people getting those Aha moments when they think yeah I need I now understand why this is important because you can write in a document.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: As much as you like or in a standard and people don't necessarily take much notice, but the regulations you know if we can raise awareness and regulations, it is having an impact.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: there's certainly talking about it a lot more than previously through things like communities meetup stuff like that.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Even though, as I say, the sort of equality has been in place a long time disputes and discrimination act and it doesn't really.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: It doesn't really radically different nights that specifically particular standards, but the laws around discrimination have been around quite a long time in the UK.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: yeah and that there is a lot of talk in the communities about procurement and how to improve things.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: And so you know, including all these basically required important but one one thing we have found and i'm sure that's the case in the US, as well as many suppliers don't seem to know.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Much about accessibility, you know, in the private sector, you talked about government started studying with government similar in the UK, that the public sector has led the way here, so the private sector is is struggling to catch up with some of this stuff.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: But you know bigger suppliers certain ones are taking this seriously and working hard to improve things, and you know, I was pointed out.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: it's in a commercial interest you know if there's if there's applying to government governments have been part of their market, if you like, so it's in their interest to do this stuff.

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Debra Ruh: Right and I know that in the states that the United States Government is the biggest procure of services and products, so if you want to buy from the United States Government you're supposed to be accessible and we created even a a testing group in our.

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Debra Ruh: Department of Homeland Security, but I just wanted to make one more comment, then turn it over to Antonio but, and I know I believe Neil wants to make a comment to before Antonio but.

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Debra Ruh: I just wanted to say, the point that you were making about, we have to go to the government for for services, I can't.

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Debra Ruh: file my taxes with another vendor I have to follow my Texas, with the internal revenue service I just thought that was such a really important point and.

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Debra Ruh: It seems like often people forget about that, so I just wanted to say thank you for your leadership, because we need people like you, leading us all over the place, I know, know you want to make a comment, for we give it over to Antonio thanks.

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Neil Milliken: Everybody to mute myself sitting right so yeah in terms of acumen I think it's it, it is an interesting one, and I, and it was really about your comment about suppliers, not necessarily understanding, accessibility and and also, I think this.

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Neil Milliken: Even organizations that have an accessibility competence don't have it embedded across the whole of the organization so so what I often see is that you have accessibility conformance statements and people will.

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Neil Milliken: Take the existence of a conformance statement or a V pat document as.

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Neil Milliken: conformance when actually it's a report on the lack of control much so, so that that lack of understanding is something that we're trying to educate.

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Neil Milliken: Our procurement people about and and generally through procurement help people understand that.

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Neil Milliken: that these statements of performance are tools for us to use to help inform our choices rather than rubber stamp that you can now go ahead and.

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Neil Milliken: buy stuff and equally on the sales side of things, you know people go with funny 508 compliant when they mean they filled out the form.

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Neil Milliken: So, so I think that that the spill this to the education process to go through across organizations.

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Neil Milliken: That doesn't mean that people have to be deep experts, but doing does mean that they need to be able to sort of.

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Neil Milliken: look out for certain red flags within the document and then sort of that can then be referred off to the teams so so it can have a really positive effective people know what they're looking for and.

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Neil Milliken: That the that I think, as we educate people on how to read the forms and so on, that this will get better and deborah's made a point about saying don't say your compliance a conforming but.

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Neil Milliken: or conforming but even so.

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Neil Milliken: These weasel words Antonio hand over to you.

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Antonio Santos: know this is, this is a topic that know we have discussed in the past with guests from from from different parts of the world, not even.

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Antonio Santos: working for four different government organizations who do similar work to reach it, so my question is, you know many countries have regulations.

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Antonio Santos: On accessibility, but then how can we make sure legislation is expected and put into practice, because sometimes you know we have.

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Antonio Santos: efforts from coming from many different sources from government, we have an advocacy groups, but how we can make sure that in the end the, the outcome is a team.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: yeah sure I mean it's a mix of things, I mean we.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: See do and for previously gds I mean it's the same team, we were previously been running an accessible this campaign, over the last two years and.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: that's included a lot of strands think like blog posts social media surveys podcast talks question and answer sessions like this.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: And also taken advantage of events like global accessibility Awareness Day to raise the profile of the legislation, the new regulations, particularly UK but also the Equality Act and the related range regulations.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: The access to the capability capability team at city, do you know carry on doing this across government through accessories community groups and meetups training clinics and guidance and.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: So so it's it's ongoing, if you like, we have to do a lot of work to keep raising awareness of this, but then there's the other side of it, which is the monitoring and enforcement and cdo runs the monitoring process.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: For the public sector bodies accessibility regulations in the UK, each country in the EU when it was a new regulations chose a body to to monitor and.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: enforce the regulations so that was gds but now that's moved to see do as from last April.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: There, a separate team within city, the other we actually worked quite closely with them and.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: What they do is they monitor sample of the many thousands of public sector websites and documents and internets and they do a range of types of testing on those simplified detail testing.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: They then report back to the organizations, if there are problems and work there are you know discrepancies between.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: The accessibility of website and what they say in their accessibility statements and you know they give them a reasonable time to fix the issues found if they don't fix them, then it comes to the point of enforcement and.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: CD do enforces the accessibility standard requirements, but then the general enforcement goes through a couple of different bodies in the UK there's the quality act sorry the.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: equalities in Human Rights Commission in Great Britain and the qualities Commission for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland they then enforce it, and they just use their existing powers under the.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Equality Act and the disability discrimination act and it's you know it's still early days, the regulations have been in place for three years now, now the but the the sort of.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: The requirement for existing websites to meet regulations came in last September.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: And the most recent headline was in June for mobile native applications in in just June this year, so it's it's in many ways it's still early days, but you know we're working hard on ensuring that some legislation is respect to the inputs practice.

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Neil Milliken: i'm really interested in this sort of sampling and.

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and

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Neil Milliken: Understanding.

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Neil Milliken: how you can get that representative sample obviously you can't test everything so so.

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Neil Milliken: And you say it's a separate team so.

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Neil Milliken: The the amount of.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: stuff.

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Neil Milliken: out on the web is is growing exponentially, so how, how is the team and and how do you think similar themes in other countries can cope with that exponential growth and keep on keep on top of stuff because not only do we have.

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Neil Milliken: You know.

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Neil Milliken: A growth in the number of websites, but the chain that changes constant as well.

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Neil Milliken: gov.uk doesn't stay static.

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Neil Milliken: So much there's so much change.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: yeah absolutely I mean there's new websites appearing every day and new domain names things like that, and obviously.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: short term initiatives things like that it's a real challenge you know it's a big task, there are 10s of thousands of public sector websites we couldn't possibly management check them all, but it's like any kind of.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: auditing sampling testing similar to you know the way I mostly do investigations, they can't possibly check everyone's tax everyone's taxes, even if you know they wanted to if they have to do on a sampling basis and.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: They becomes a sort of you know I guess it comes into Terrence it becomes a sort of educational exercise as well, one of the things we hope to do is find out.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: A sort of areas where people are having lots of problems, so we can tailor our you know guidance and training, accordingly, because.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: If if the majority of issues are with things like I don't know video then maybe that's an area we need to address more directly that's just a you know, an example so yeah it's always going to be difficult to.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: come up with a sort of.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: A complete list of websites to test and come up with a sample but you know we're working hard on making sure we get a good cross section.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: and making sure that.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: it's representative of the public sector.

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Neil Milliken: Thank you.

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Debra Ruh: Right it's it's interesting all of this is especially when I compare it to the US because.

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Debra Ruh: We don't officially have an enforcement, even though we have our access board or access board provides technical support, but they do have enforcement under the Ada anyway, we get all complicated but.

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Debra Ruh: What do you consider to be good practice on the accessibility of government communications, to make sure all of the agencies do understand, but also the public understands.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: I think it's good practice and communications is vital, I mean obviously there's the general communications around publications there's there's hundreds of thousands publication in the UK, so we have good principles in place to try and ensure those are accessible.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: But there's this whole other areas that's possibly haven't even looked at in such detail, up to now things like emails documents social media.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: You know that there's it's kind of realization that things that weren't thought possible before just a difficult isn't it could be impossible so.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: You know we've had to do a lot of work around trying to make sure that people think about their social media think about emails.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: emails are complicated because so many different email clients are in use they're not as reliable, in the sense of.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: They don't you know they're not consistent in terms of supporting standards if you'd like like browsers I mean browsers not perfect by any means, but then more consistent they used to be back in the battle days of the Netscape navigator awards and things like that.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: i've been working with the gds communications team and the government communications service which is all.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: agency within government on trying to improve awareness and general communications in areas specifically like social media so we've been running.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Regular webinars for communications professionals, giving them the basics, the regulations, why accessible is important.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: And hints and tips to make their communications more accessible and also providing guidance around social media and we still have a long way to go, because you know I still regularly see stuff that comes out with videos where there's embedded.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: captions or in my course subtitles that aren't the audio describes so for anyone who can't see that they don't get that information so there's there's still a long way to go in that area, and I think part of the issue with that is that a lot of.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: A lot of work is outsourced so again, it comes back to the private sector in many areas that.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: If we add sourcing stuff to agencies and things were going to make sure they know what government requirements or public sector requirements are we're going to make sure they've got skills, the knowledge to be able to provide those things, and you know from my experience.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Media agencies don't provide captions by default, for example, they.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: You know either they offer it as an option or they're not even aware that you know you might want to ask for it, which is shocking in many ways, but so I think we got a long way to go with with a number of areas.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: But we're working hard, as I say, to try and raise awareness within the communications professionals across government so they know and they can ask the right questions and I could put the right things in procurement contracts Those sort of things.

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Antonio Santos: On top of social media, I personally believe that.

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Antonio Santos: social media organizations will also have a role to play on helping people to make their content, more more accessible on the channels, we know that Twitter.

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Antonio Santos: allows you to bring out text but doesn't do a great job on the caption side.

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Antonio Santos: And this, and the same apply to other social networks, because I believe that if social network was able to improve the part of the back end of their platforms in the usability of how you are able to do those things people be more prompt in order to use them.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: yeah and I think I think people are becoming more aware of that, particularly with a particular areas of captions where I think I think the stats are that.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: The majority of videos on Facebook or watch with captions because people just don't put the audio on and so.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: it's benefiting everyone, but as a result of that people are starting to think more about it and thinking, I need those you know and.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Why they're there, or why they're there, by default, but yeah you're right some of the some of the platforms, some of the social media platforms.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: still have a way to go in terms of making you do these things up front so i'll text, whilst it's possible to put it in most social media platforms now.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: I don't think any of them sort of prompts you to make sure you do it, so you know, maybe that's the next stage, and I know there's challenges around it's not it's not a simple.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: thing to solve, you know something like Twitter is quite a different thing to a website, even though technically it's using web technologies is such a different way of working, so these are complex things.

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yeah.

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Neil Milliken: Those workflows are super important and and quite often we forget that there is a really important accessibility guidelines from the wcc which is.

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Neil Milliken: have possibly has more impact than even the web content accessibility guidelines, even though it's less known, which is your average.

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Neil Milliken: User agent sorry so that.

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Neil Milliken: Yes, it's simply the user agent stuff because that is the stuff that creates the content that then becomes.

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Neil Milliken: The stuff in the w in in working i'm tying myself up in knots today been a long day and I have an another question which is.

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Neil Milliken: Related to some of the events recently in that the government has published his disability strategy, and in that there's lots of stuff about government departments talking about the stuff that they're doing to work for.

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Neil Milliken: towards greater inclusion so in the context of what you're doing, how can cross government initiatives take accessibility.

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Neil Milliken: into other government departments, what do you what a CD do doing with, for example, the Home Office or or others in terms of sharing best practice and skills and so.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: yeah sure I mean the accessibility capability team we didn't see do exists, primarily for cross government work.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: it's it's it was kind of a split off from the original accessibility testing when we created the accessibility regulations.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: We had to have a separate team for that so it's it's predominantly involved in that area and it's we created the government access to these communities that six years ago, where I started.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: As grown to a large number of people in government and other parts of the public sector as well you know it extends beyond central government into local authorities into the NHS.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: into public transport into universities and it's a it's a community of professionals in many different disciplines, you have an interest in this, and we've worked a long time with them to.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: sort of make them they become more independent, if you like, because in the early days, we had to sort of prompt with questions and we had to answer a lot of the questions.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: But now we've got to the stage where you know if you ask a question and government accessible is Community you'll get half dozen answers from half dozen different.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Parts of government, very quickly, and you know we get involved, but we don't have to you know these things get answered so it's it's.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: it's definitely working well, and you know we do work with other a will with other parts direct directly like hmm I see like dwp depart for Work and Pensions and.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Home Office and we work on various initiatives there's groups of accessibility specialist working together as well.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: And you know with we're continuing, as I said, you're trying to build accessibility capability, we run awareness sessions around assistive technologies around introductions to access but generally.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: And we provide a lot of input into guidance that goes on places like wk and it's the service manual, which is part of the government service standard which is.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: predominately aimed US government central government services, but can be used by anyone, so that this sort of good accessibility.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: guidance in there as well, and and what it means what what was meant is that there's been initiatives around specialized areas so, for example, data visualization and graphs.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: A lot of that has come from organizations like an s the Office for national statistics.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: there's another initiative going on, which is around maps maps are really complex and difficult things to make accessible we're not just talking about.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: location maps we're not even just talking about interactive maps, where you get data pins niggling we're talking about things like.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Planning where you have to input boundary maps and things like that it's quite a complex area, so there are working groups that go on within within.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Both the accessibility, communities and the design, communities and they they all talk about accessibility and make sure that's included within that so there's a lot going on in that area, if you like.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: And I guess the great thing about the communities is that we get a diverse range of ideas as well it's not just you know city do or gds coming up with these ideas we you know anytime to people in.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: In those organizations there's plenty of tons of people across the rest of government and of course they've all got different perspectives, you know.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: This is from across the UK so it's not just England it's not just the southeast or London it's very much across the UK so we're building on that, if you like, and it's it's it does take work, you know managing communities managing meetups things like this and as the say initiating.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: In various initiatives.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: We help with those we try to facilitate those but we're getting to the stage where the Community is starting to do some of those things themselves without us even prompting them so that's great.

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Neil Milliken: I am I need to correct myself I got myself in the twist I think user agent men a tag, which is the authoring tools accessibility guidelines.

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Neil Milliken: So yeah.

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Neil Milliken: yeah long day.

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Neil Milliken: Because yeah it's it's the it's the things where you make the content and and the fact that they need to produce that content accessibly and prompt you that is so important.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Obviously yeah you do.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: We do talk to people about Internet and publishing tools and things like.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: The need to think about those things and to be honest, it does sometimes come as a surprise to people that we're not just talking about public facing websites, people often think.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: that's that's the end of what they need to do, and it isn't toxins as a lot of stuff around that you've got to make these tools work for everyone.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: And the civil services a big organization, you know, like everywhere else as a wide diverse range of people working there, and a large proportion of those are disabled.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: And, and there is, as we always talk about you know permanent temporary and situational impairments as well.

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Debra Ruh: And I also want to make a comment because I have been blessed to be in the accessibility field since.

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Debra Ruh: 2000 and I just find that a lot of accessibility people that consider themselves experts in accessibility.

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Debra Ruh: Sometimes just don't understand the complexity of what you're dealing with I don't believe I could possibly understand the complexity of what you're doing I would think I could.

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Debra Ruh: But it's sort of the same thing with the complexity of what a billion dollar corporation like eight toes deals with so we sometimes hear.

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Debra Ruh: Experts saying government stop using all pdfs don't use the maps don't it's like but, so I just want to thank you for your leadership and in.

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Debra Ruh: I hear often from large corporations in the US, that the experts or the Community just don't understand the complexity if you're pulling one thing out and you want to make this one drop down box accessible.

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Debra Ruh: Well, you can do it and you had mentioned to aria which I know you're you know what you're talking about when you say aria but.

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Debra Ruh: it's just interesting because I think sometimes the vendors don't understand the complexity of what you're dealing with and I I just you know wanted to give you a moment to talk about that, before Antonio asks one of the last questions.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Fuel yeah and I said earlier, I think the Webster is very simple thing didn't it was text and hypertext links and that was it and so.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: It had accessibility built in, and as you've seen demonstrations of it it's um you know the original website is still you know.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: responsive, it will change flow and things like that and it's quite accessible so complexities came in, when people added images tables multimedia all those things which is great, you know.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: It would have been stagnant and you know not that useful if they hadn't but it's introduced a lot of complexity.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: But I i'm thankful, there are a lot of experts out there who know this stuff and it can work out this stuff I never described myself as an expert I always think.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: you're not an expert because you're always learning i'm always learning and and also you know I I mentioned earlier that.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: My technical skills are probably not as much as they used to be and they don't need to be, to be honest, because I don't need to know the last detail, of all things like aria and stuff like that, but I need to know where to look for that if I need to.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: But we have to sort of specialize and, if you like my speciality is become raising awareness and building capability and training and things like that which is you know I love doing.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: But I still i'm still fascinated by the technical side of it, but I don't have to deal with on a day to day basis but yeah you're right, you know.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: The expertise needs to be there and people aren't aware of the complexity complexities of this, you know when I start to look at some of the details of CSS and html you know it's scares me, sometimes, but I know where to go for the answers that's thing isn't experts out there.

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Antonio Santos: But continuous learning is something that know that we're all passionate about know farming changes so today we're all here, working from home.

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Antonio Santos: So Richard what what changes have you observed in the realm of possibility in the in the last 15 months, what are the things that capture your attention.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: yeah I think it was definitely a realization.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: early on in the pandemic last year that you know lots of things that weren't possible or just hadn't been done before could be done so it suddenly became possible for many people to work from home.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: When before it was often the case that you know, it was considered difficult or you know just wasn't an option.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: And you know, there are there are challenges with that and organizations have had to adapt and provide things for a Home Office setup.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: simple things like, why not simple things, but things like my monitors office chairs those things to make people have.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: A usable working environment and, of course, you know reasonable adjustments, where they need particular particular adjustments or particular things.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: So it's been a challenge but it's proved that a lot of things are possible, and you know that wouldn't have been possible 10 years ago anyway because of the.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: The broadband landscape, then was a lot lots more than it is now it's still you know it's still difficult many areas and many people don't have a school band things like that, so that there's the level of difficulty in there.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: But also, you know within governments, it became clear very early on in the pandemic there's not any possible to design and build.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Accessible things very quickly, but it became essential you know, in theory, yes, you can design something tomorrow and build it quite quickly but practicalities mean.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: You have to go to team, you have to just the link, but actually the first going to UK covert 19 service with built in a few days or three or four days, I think it was.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: essential service and what it really showed, though, was that it's it we had accessibility built in from the start, because it was built from accessible components.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: which came from the government design system which came from previous iterations, if you like.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: So there's an approach of building in accessibility, from the start and i'm not claiming that's perfect or anything like that that there's there's always room for improvement, those areas but it meant, as I say, it's been up a complex quite a complex service in a few days that was vital.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: At the early days of pandemic and that that could be invited in other situations as well, and the more efficient, we are, the better it's going to get.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: You know that there's also been a big shift in things over the last 15 months as a result of the public sector bodies accessibility regulations.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: I mentioned the second deadline was for existing public sector websites that was Sep tember 2020 last year, so there was a massive push through our 2020 to make things compliant with the regulations.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: There was actually some pushback up like people saying Oh, you know, can we can we not do this because the pandemic, but we didn't we did resist that and said we'll have to.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: collaborate and support but you've still got to meet these regulations used to what to do, and you still don't achieve them, so we didn't water them down.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: So that there was a big push on that front and and also that continued with the regulations about mobile Apps and things like that so there's definitely a change in the landscape of the last 15 months, and I think.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: For me what's important is it's raised awareness.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: People talk about compliance and performance but i've I every talk, I gave I always talk about going beyond compliance and performance compliance or conformance whatever you want to call it is.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: is only the base basics and it doesn't guarantee something's accessible and it's it's only there in some senses a tick box exercise for many people that they might say what what do we need to do what's the minimum we need to do.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: And whilst I recognize that you know people have to focus on priorities they have fixed budgets, often they have fixed time scales for some of these things.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: They have to go beyond that and we have to keep working to to continue to promote that so.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: I think in terms of our next challenge that's that's the real challenge of like he's getting people to go beyond what they've done in the last 15 months, which has been brilliant but there's still more work to be done.

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Neil Milliken: yeah I, I agree, I think that the legislation has had a significant accelerating effect on.

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Neil Milliken: The improvement of accessibility of websites, but also.

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Neil Milliken: it's woken up the private sector supply chain that you guys rely on to the.

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Neil Milliken: More, and so the need to.

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Neil Milliken: build accessibility skills, because that's that's something that we've been passionate about for a long time, but but it's really clear now that there's a real demand for skills.

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Neil Milliken: And you can't just go out and recruit because everyone's gone out and look to recruit and so we need to grow them so that's something that we're really passionate about but also.

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Neil Milliken: Seeing what's happening, you know we've got the laws in the UK they're the same you know they've transposed from the from the European legislation, and I think that also even though.

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Neil Milliken: UK is outside of Europe now the impact of trading digitally across borders will mean that the European legislation is going to impact the private sector quite considerably over the next.

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Neil Milliken: couple of years as a European accessibility act comes into force as well, because any UK company that wants to do business with europe's going to have to do so, so I think there's going to be.

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Neil Milliken: A continued.

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Neil Milliken: benefit from from legislation to making accessibility more more commonplace and more more embedded but.

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Neil Milliken: Echoing back to what you said and what Deborah said actually trying to do this in complex organizations is not trivial there's an awful.

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Neil Milliken: awful lot of legacy systems to deal with an awful lot of interoperability between different systems and dependencies on on partners and and and other bits of business and operations that.

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Neil Milliken: Make it something that is less about technical competence and capability and more about management competence process and and all of this kind of stuff so, so I think that this is this is something that that the.

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Neil Milliken: Accessibility industry needs to get their heads around as well, you can't just deal with the code, you need to deal with.

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Neil Milliken: The complexity and the and the sort of organization behind it so.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: yeah yeah and I think it's it's it's very much about making everyone aware that it's all everyone's responsibility to do this stuff.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: And, and I, you know constant contact gone about the importance of accessibility and that people don't always get it, but I I say you know what would you do if someone said, your.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Your website wasn't GDP are compliant you soon fix that wouldn't you we make sure it was compliant or it wasn't secure, for example, you didn't have a secure password system.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: you'd be taking notes of this and that's where you know regulations do come in, but i'd much rather use the carrot and the stick, you know.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: And i'm a pragmatist, I recognize that people do struggle with some of this stuff and it's not easy to get the priorities right because they've got big projects coming on that got tight budgets they've got limited time scales.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: But I just encourage people to to make things better than they are that's a that's a big thing, maybe that's not ambitious enough, but I am ambitious but, and I do push people, but I also just you know, trying to encourage because I think that's really important.

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Neil Milliken: yeah I agree, so thank you very much for for taking the time to speak with us.

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Neil Milliken: gds and now CD do has always.

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Neil Milliken: been a leader in in this space, and I think has has shown a light for other government services, so thank you for continuing to do that, and thank you for making us proud.

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Neil Milliken: And we really look forward to you joining us on Twitter on Tuesday night, thank you.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Well, thanks, very much yeah i'm looking forward to stop yeah.

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Neil Milliken: Right what one last thing I need to thank the people that keep the lights on, so there's Barcalys. My Clear Text and Microlink in for supporting as over the Thank you brilliant.

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Debra Ruh: Thank you, Richard, we need more leaders like you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Richard Morton - CDDO - Cabinet Office - UK: Thank you.