April 18, 2023 - Keeping high-priority rushed content accessible

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Back to Federal Provincial Territorial web management working group


  • Updates
  • Keeping high-priority rushed content accessible
    • Strategies for making it accessible
    • Strategies for managing expectations
    • Anything to share re processes for getting a minimal product out the door and then expand

In attendance

  • Michèle-Renée Charbonneau, Digital Transformation Office, TBS
  • Teressa Peters, province of PEI
  • Annette, DFO web
  • Kaitlyn Rosenburg, BC Gov
  • Gerard Dicks-Pellerin, NRCan-RNCan
  • Chelsey Chapman, Alberta Government
  • Kayte McLaughlin, Government of New Brunswick
  • Ryley Leckie, BC Government
  • Allison Leonard, Nova Scotia
  • Allan Lawlor, Nova Scotia
  • Dominic Seiterle, Province of BC
  • Stéphanie, Principal Publisher - DSD, NCR
  • Maria Behan, SC, Principal Publisher, Service Canada
  • Mary Elizabeth Baker, Privy Council Office - Federal Government
  • Elizabeth Wrightson, BC Government
  • Desirae Bowlby, BC Government
  • Chelsey Donohue, Digital Transformation Office, TBS
  • Laura Piper, Digital Transformation Office, TBS

DTO updates

Federal government strike for communications and web publishers: We have a section on Canada.ca for labour disruptions and we have a strategy in place if the strike happens.

What’s next for FPT group: We are looking at the priorities we have for the coming year. We love this group and would like to see it continue but don’t think we can continue to coordinate it. Please let us know if there are folks who would like to take on a partnership/leadership role for this group.

There is also the International design in government community and slack channel where people share best practices in a less formal way.

Accessible communications

Q: Have you ever had issues putting up timely, accessible communications?

Allison Leonard, NS

  • Our team takes on a lot of the content creation
  • Ask clients to fill out forms and then we create the content so we can ensure it is done in an accessible way

Ryley Leckie, BC

  • Have web standards and guides that have accessibility built in, so accessible communications start before the content draft
  • Word templates have proper styles etc. applied
  • Government structure has a central web content team that typically helps with priority web content
  • Ministries have web content teams as well, though the capacity within those teams to stay up to date on standards varies
  • We create content in consultation with other teams when new content is being created or reworked

Chelsey Chapman, AB

  • Central team that creates content and we work with communications to draft it
  • Program areas fill out templates
  • For slower pace content we use Word docs that have accessible headings, etc. built in
  • For urgent content we have a team that drafts the content and prepares it within the CMS so there is no version control on documents
    • This also helps clear up how the content will look on the web and helps to reduce last minute changes

Q: Is it hard to get people to create alt text or long descriptions?

Kaitlyn Rosenburg, BC

  • Rarely find that images are adding context so if the content is urgent we usually only let one in and mark it as decorative
  • If it’s last minute content then we post PDFs and then add the accessible content afterwards
    • Sometimes we do an html summary and then frame the PDF as a secondary source

Kayte McLaughlin, NB

  • For charts or graphs presenting complicated data last minute, use a screen reader class to write a description of what the data is

Allan Lawlor, NS

  • Often get the PDF at the last minute, although programs take steps to make the PDFs accessible
  • Online we add a request form so people can request an alternate format if the PDF has accessibility issues, and then create an accessible format for them

Q: Do you have rules where everything you post must be accessible like we do in the Government of Canada?

Allan Lawlor, NS

  • A lot of things are still being drafted so it’s just kind of best effort to make things accessible as opposed to an actual requirement

Q: Is the weight behind a requirement helpful? Have you seen a move from a nice to have to a must have?

Allan Lawlor, NS

  • People say ‘I want this to be accessible’ but they don’t fully understand what that is -  they have the terms but not a deep understanding of accessibility
  • We try to explain why certain practices are more accessible than others

Q: What about processes- how do you make sure you come back afterwards to ensure an accessible document if you’ve posted an inaccessible one in a rush?

Susan Harper, Health Canada

  • Accessibility exemption form for when things are moving fast and furious
  • If we have gone with a temporary exemption on something, the form makes sure we follow through afterwards to make the content accessible
  • Formalizing it helps with the education piece and helps to ensure the client comes to us first next time
  • It becomes more apparent to our senior management that accessibility is a requirement

Q: Do maps need to have accessible versions?

  • Yes

Q: Has anyone been experimenting with ChatGPT for plain language?

Kayte McLaughlin, NB

We have - it’s actually been pretty good.  

Ryley Leckie, BC

Have been playing with prompts, telling it to reference our style guide and our design system and it has come out with some pretty good results.

DTO wrap-up

Would love to see this community continue but after June we can’t run it so reach out if you can help co-chair this. Chelsey Chapman has expressed interest.