The Importance of Digital Accessibility in Emergency Management

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With the ever-present threat of natural disasters, effective emergency management has become crucial, and as the scorching Australian summer approaches, the nation is gearing up for another bushfire season. 

In the digital age, the role of technology in emergency management cannot be overstated. However, it’s equally important to recognise that technology alone is not enough. Ensuring that emergency service websites are accessible to all, regardless of their abilities, is paramount.

Why are Accessibility Tools Essential on Emergency Service Websites?

Australia is fortunate to have several dedicated organisations responsible for bushfire emergency management, including the National Council for Fire and Emergency Services (AFAC), the Country Fire Authority (CFA), various State Emergency Services (SES), and local fire departments. These agencies work tirelessly to keep communities safe and informed. Still, their efforts can only reach their full potential when everyone, including individuals with disabilities, can access the information they provide.

Bushfires don’t discriminate based on ability, and while most of us take access to emergency services for granted, it’s not that simple for those who struggle with traditional methods of communication or face online barriers. So accessible websites and communication tools are essential to ensure vulnerable people don’t end up in dangerous situations during bushfire season. 


Who Needs Help with Website Accessibility?

 1 in every 6 Australians have a disability that can make accessing information online challenging. That’s over 4 million people!  

Physical disabilities tend to take the limelight, as the image that springs to most people’s mind when discussing disability is an individual with mobility issues. However, it’s estimated that around 80% of all disabilities are hidden. For example:


On top of all this, the 5.3 million Australians who speak languages other than English might encounter language and literacy barriers on emergency services websites due to unnecessarily complex phrasing or navigation. 

How to Make Your Emergency Service Website Inclusive 

Ensuring accessibility is an ongoing process, not a one-time task. Regular audits and updates are essential to maintain and improve website accessibility. And, of course, accessibility standards evolve over time in line with new technological advancements. That said, here are the basic steps to follow to ensure accessible and equitable online experiences on your website:

  1. Ensure legislative compliance – It is illegal to treat people with disabilities less favourably, so ensuring your accessibility policies align with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) is essential.
  2. Follow global best practice guidelines – Familiarise yourself with the most up-to-date Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and aim for 2.1 Level AA compliance.
  3. Make sure your website build is accessible – Good web developers can help you adapt your site by incorporating best practices for accessibility
  4. Invest in assistive technology – Software solutions bridge the gap between accessibility and usability, creating an inclusive online experience for everyone. 
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How Recite Me Can Help

Recite Me’s innovative suite of accessibility on-demand tools makes websites accessible and inclusive for a diverse range of people.

Accessibility Checker 

The Recite Me Accessibility Checker scans your website and audits back-end and front-end web development processes by running 396 separate compliance scans in line with WCAG 2.1. Based on the findings, it generates a prioritised action plan of accessibility issues and how to fix them. Key benefits and functionalities include:

  • Identifying inaccessible features
  • Outlining accessibility issues
  • Suggesting accessibility fixes and solutions
  • Managing your accessibility fixes queue
  • Easily tracking your improvements
  • Sharing your accessibility report and score 

Assistive Toolbar 

The Recite Me toolbar removes online barriers for individuals who would otherwise need to provide their own support to access content online. It allows website visitors with sight loss, cognitive impairments, neurodivergent traits, physical disabilities, and varying linguistic needs to access information in line with their personal preferences. Users can:

  • Personalise font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read.
  • Utilise the mask screen tool, which isolates parts of the page to help with focus.
  • Use the ruler tool to make reading easier.
  • Download content as an audio file as an alternative to reading.
  • Convert page content into over 100 different on-screen languages.
  • Have the page read aloud in a choice of 65 different languages.
  • Customise PDF documents and have them read aloud or translated.

Who We Work With 

We are proud to work with numerous fire and rescue organisations worldwide. Our current client list includes:

  • East Sussex Fire & Rescue 
  • North Wales Fire & Rescue
  • Merseyside Fire & Rescue
  • Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue

“We serve a rich diversity of communities against a backdrop of significant natural and cultural heritage. Reducing risk and saving lives are central to our mission – and accessibility is vital to our success. Providing Recite Me across our website facilitates access to timely information and advice that could mean the difference between life and death.”

Tracey Williams, Corporate Communications Manager, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service

Make Your Emergency Services Website Accessible Today 

Recite Me is quick and easy to implement on your website and can usually be installed in under an hour. Our software is already active on over 5,000 websites and every year, we help millions of people to access barrier-free information and services online. 

Get started on your website accessibility strategy today by working through these action points:

  1. Contact our team for more advice about WCAG standards and Disability Discrimination Act best practices.
  2. Run a free check of your website for WCAG 2.1 AA compliance. 
  3. Try our toolbar to see the difference it can make to individuals requiring personalised customisation.   
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