1. Our commitment

Our commitment

Our Website Accessibility Policy and FACS Digital Accessibility Standard provides guidance to put our web users at the centre of all that we do. We want our web content at FACS to be easy to find, read and understand for our wide ranging audience.

We welcome your feedback

If you have any feedback or suggestions or you are having an issue accessing content on any of the FACS websites, please contact us at [email protected]


2. Website Accessibility Policy

Website Accessibility Policy

This page outlines the FACS Website Accessibility Policy and how it was developed. This policy is designed to ensure compliance with mandated website accessibility standards through the publishing process.

  1. Purpose of policy
  2. Best practice digital writing makes web content more accessible
  3. Definitions
  4. Scope and application
  5. Legislation
  6. Policy statement 
  7. Roles, responsibilities
  8. Resources
  9. Monitoring and review

1   Purpose of policy

1.1 Purpose

This policy is designed to ensure that all content published on Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) websites is accessible for all users, regardless of physical and cognitive ability. The policy came into effect on 1 January 2016.

Accessible website content is inclusive content that can be read and understood by everyone, regardless of ability. Our goal at FACS is to become a leader in the area of accessible content.

Website accessibility involves creating and structuring website content so that it can be navigated, read or experienced by users regardless of disability. Disabilities can be visual, auditory, physical, speech-related, cognitive or neurological. Our content needs to be accessible for those using screen readers and assistive technology as well as different devices whether that is a desk top computer, mobile device or lap top. Our content should also be clear, well written and comprehensible by our clients regardless of educational level, English language skills or cultural background.

FACS is obliged by law to have broad compliance with mandated website accessibility standards.

1.2 Background and directives

1.2.1 Accessibility is mandated

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were developed in cooperation with individuals and organisations from around the world. WCAG aims to provide a universal standard for web content accessibility.

The NSW Government’s Circular on Website Management directed departments and agencies to streamline their websites to focus on customer needs, including meeting mandated accessibility requirements (the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard) by December 2014.  The Department of Premier and Cabinet provides an overview on accessibility.

The federal government mandates all Australian, state and territory government websites to meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA  compliance.

2   Best practice digital writing makes web content more accessible

We are going beyond the technical guidelines to make sure our websites are truly accessible for all FACS clients, web users and our staff. When creating content, we keep our user in mind at all times. This includes the words we choose, the format used to present information and also following a consistent style so web users know what to expect from us. Writing in a clear, jargon-free way is always the goal. If we must use a particular formal name or term we seek to explain it. By implementing better standards for what we produce, we will ultimately produce web content that is more accessible for all our users. This includes clients with cognitive, learning and intellectual disabilities and those from a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) background.

2.1.1 Benefits of improving website accessibility

Accessible content:

  • helps us broaden our audience for FACS content
  • improves the usability of our sites for all people
  • ensures we cater to web users who are blind or with low vision
  • makes our digital content easier to use for seniors, people with lower literacy or from CALD communities
  • ensures our information can be viewed easily by smartphone/tablet users
  • improves the technical performance of our sites such as faster loading times and smaller bandwidth requirements.
  • answers questions immediately more often and so reduces the need for clients to seek information using other means such as phone calls or visiting a FACS office
  • provides an opportunity for us to review all our content
  • makes us compliant with relevant legislation
  • reduces our reliance on the PDF document format. This format is not as accessible, mobile friendly or searchable as other types of website content.

2.1.2 Risks of inaccessible web content

Inaccessible content on FACS websites:

  • Restricts access to information for people who are blind or with low vision, limited English, or an intellectual disability or learning challenge
  • Exposes us to risk of adverse findings from an audit by the NSW Auditor-General
  • Could result in complaints from peak bodies and the public about inaccessible content
  • Is contrary to a staff culture promoting web accessibility
  • Lowers staff productivity, as non-accessible documents take longer to read and comprehend.

2.1.3 Number of people with disability

According to the United Nations, around 15% of the world's population, or an estimated 1 billion people, have a disability. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that 20% of the Australian population have one or more disabilities – that’s more than three million people. This number is rising due to Australia’s ageing population.

2.1.4 Consultation and related documents

This policy was developed in consultation with staff in the Ministerial and Communications Services directorate of FACS. We also sought specialist advice including from the FACS Disability Employment Network.

The FACS Digital Accessibility Standard is linked to the FACS Website Accessibility Policy.

3  Definitions

Below is a list of terms, abbreviations and keywords used in this document:

Disability – Under the Disability Inclusion Act 2014 (NSW), we talk about “disability" in relation to a person. This could include a long-term physical, psychiatric, intellectual or sensory impairment that, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder the person’s full and effective participation in the community on an equal basis with others.

FACS refers to the NSW Department of Family and Community Services.

FACS Intranet is a website just for FACS staff that can only be accessed internally.

FACS Internet refers to our public website.

Plain English is a set of writing principles developed to guide professionals who write as part of their everyday work. Plain English is clear, concise and easy-to-read. Plain English practice avoids jargon, is accountable (for example, ‘We’ meaning FACS) and uses active verbs, for example, ‘engaging’ not ‘engagement’ and ‘employ’ not ‘the employment of’.

PDF – is short for Portable Document Format. This type of file format is often used to present documents that are long so they are easy to print out. The PDF is designed to be independent of application software, hardware and or an operating system.

Website “accessibility” involves taking steps to make a website easy for everyone to use no matter what their life circumstance. It involves the words we use and the way we create and structure website content so that it can be navigated, read or experienced by a wide range of users no matter their device of choice or particular challenge. We design our digital channels so those with a visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive or neurological disability or impairment that may affect their access to the web can use them. Web accessibility also helps people from a range of cultural and language backgrounds, learning and literacy levels and with limited time to browse and absorb information.

Web content is the information you see on a web page or within a web application such as a photographic image, a graphic, piece of written text, a form you need to fill in and even video and audio content.

WCAG - Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are comprehensive and internationally recognised. The guidelines were developed in cooperation with individuals and organisations around the world. WCAG aims to provide a universal standard for web content accessibility.

4   Scope and application

This policy is to be followed by:

  • All staff across FACS who create web content for internet and intranet sites
  • Consultants and others creating web content for FACS websites.

This policy should be read in conjunction with the FACS Digital Accessibility Standard.

5   Legislation

Accessibility requirements for websites are mandated under government policy, legislation, and through whole-of-government commitments.

5.1.1 Commonwealth legislation

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Commonwealth) requires government agencies to provide information and services in a non-discriminatory accessible manner to ensure that people with disability have the same fundamental rights as others in the community.

In 2008, the federal government ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Articles 9 and 21 of the convention recognise that having equal access to information, communications and services, including on the internet, is a human right.

5.1.2 NSW legislation

The Disability Inclusion Act 2014 (NSW) makes it clear that people with disability have the right to access information from government agencies in a way that is appropriate for their disability and cultural background.

6   Policy statement

6.1.1 Policy intent

From January 2016 all new FACS intranet and internet content follows the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard.

Digital content that is not accessible will not be published without an accessible alternative. If you would like to request an accessible version of any digital content published on a FACS website please contact us via [email protected].

We continue to make content published before 1 January 2016 accessible. We are doing this as fast as available resources allow.

6.1.2 Administration of the policy

The Digital team at FACS will administer the FACS Website Accessibility Policy with support from Strategic Communications.

6.1.3 Document approval and distribution

The FACS Website Accessibility Policy is endorsed and approved within Ministerial and Communications Services by:

Laura Ramos, Acting Director, Digital

Approved: 7 October, 2015

Revised version: 27 July, 2016

Rod Nockles, Executive Director

Approved: 7 October, 2015

Distribution: This policy has been made available to FACS staff who create web content for internet and intranet sites as well as line managers across the department, FACS communication and digital staff in Ministerial and Communication Services, Strategic Communications Committee members, and staff in FACS Districts.

Document name: Web Accessibility Policy

Authoring Units: Strategic Communications and Digital. Both units are part of Ministerial and Communications Services within the Strategic Reform and Policy Branch of FACS.

7  Roles, responsibilities

Strategic Communications

·    Develop communications materials and plan delivery of messages related to accessibility through awareness campaigns and other ongoing communications activity to educate clients and staff.


·    Ensure that FACS digital publishing systems and processes comply with required accessibility standards. Digital will also manage remedial activity to improve the accessibility of content published prior to the launch of the FACS Website Accessibility Policy.

Executive Directors and District Directors

·    Promote website accessibility to staff in their directorate.

  • Staff across FACS who create web content for internet and intranet sites will ensure that any web content they create is accessible.
  • The policy will be resourced from within MACS.

8   Resources

FACS has developed a range of writing guides, training and other resources to help our staff create accessible content.

9   Monitoring and review

The Digital team within Ministerial and Communications Services monitors, reviews and updates this policy as required.


3. Digital Accessibility Standard

Digital Accessibility Standard


Put people first
Design for everyone
Follow the Australian Government’s Digital Service Standard
Adhere to WCAG
Know the content types
Write in plain English
Make sure PDFs are accessible
Provide alternative formats
Provide language translation support
Allow for assistive methods
Test, validate and verify
Report, fix and review
Accessible PDF version of the Digital Accessibility Standard


Put people first

Usability is all about putting the needs of people first.

So often in government and large organisations, we put the organisational need first and forget about what people need to successfully engage with us.

When designing, developing and delivering digital services, we follow the design principles in the Australian Government’s Digital Service Standard. We also use the standards for usability from the United States Government.

Both of these resources have excellent tips for building usability into your design and development practice.

Usability testing helps us establish how well a digital service works by watching how users actually use it. At FACS, we undertake usability testing at key points during the design and development process to identify problems and fix them before a service is released.

How do you know if you’re putting people first? Key questions to ask

  • Can people easily complete key tasks?
  • How quickly can people complete those tasks?
  • Can people complete the task on their first try?
  • What distractions or barriers do people face? Can you remove those?
  • After using the service once, can a person remember enough to use it effectively the next time?
  • How much do people like using your service?

Don’t forget to use a responsive design that adapts to a range of devices and screen sizes, and to test on the full range of browsers and platforms that your audience may be using.

Design for everyone

At FACS, we have diverse audience groups.

We provide information in digital formats to a wide range of people in the community, including:

  • families and carers
  • young people
  • older people
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • people with disability
  • people who are homeless
  • people who are at risk or in crisis
  • people with mental illness
  • people with low levels of literacy
  • people with diverse learning needs
  • people who speak languages other than English.

We also provide information in digital formats to a wide range of people working in our areas of expertise, including:

  • internal staff
  • employees in other government departments
  • professionals working across a range of sectors, including housing, disability, health and human services.

There may be substantial crossovers within all of these groups and we must take everyone’s needs into consideration.

This means that, when we design content that is going to be published in a digital format, we must make sure we’re designing for everyone. While we know that the technical rules around accessibility must be applied, we want to make sure that our designs and information go further than this.

For example, we want our content to meet the needs of people with cognitive disability as well as those with sensory or physical disability. And we want to include people with low levels of literacy or diverse learning needs.

How can we design for everyone?

We can design for everyone by taking the following design ideas into consideration when creating digital content. This work is in addition to following the criteria that outline how we always put people first, adhere to WCAG and write in plain English .

Here’s what you can do:

  • Keep interactions brief and simple.
  • Keep the visual design uncluttered.
  • Organise your content structure well.
  • Use a responsive design that adapts to a range of devices and screen sizes.
  • Break long content up over several pages and include reminders of where people are up to – for example, Step 2 of 4.
  • Show the current task, including its status and progress.
  • Provide simple, clear error messages.
  • Provide warnings – for example when someone is about to delete a file or exit without saving.
  • Only change features on a page if users request to do so.
  • Use visual structure and white space well.
  • Write simply and clearly. Use plain English or, where relevant, Easy Read.
  • Provide a glossary for complex words.
  • Warn users of extreme changes in content – such as opening up a PDF.
  • Make all interactions as predictable as possible.
  • Offer more than one way to find a page.
  • Try to help the user to focus. Don't distract people with unnecessary graphics, especially animated graphics.
  • Present information in a common sense way to reduce the cognitive energy people need to use to complete tasks on your site. Do the thinking for people at the design stage so they don’t have to work hard when they use your site.
  • Use visual cues to highlight important points or sections of the content.
  • If possible, eliminate advertisements and sponsored links.
  • Make sure the location of the cursor is obvious.
  • Make important content noticeable and easy to scan. Avoid background noises or images that distract. Instead, use these tools to focus the user's attention.
  • Avoid long lists of options for someone to choose from. Keep the number of choices short and succinct.
  • Be flexible in how data is viewed, entered and saved. For example, allow spaces in phone or credit card numbers that people would usually use.
  • Use media such as illustrations, icons, photos, video and audio to connect with people with cognitive disability or learning needs.
  • Use captions or sign language for videos – we explain more about this here.
  • Allow users to stop or pause time-sensitive features, such as videos or rotating banners.
  • Help users by doing the maths for them. Where computations are required, such as in eCommerce sites that add the price of the items purchased, tax, shipping and handling, and other charges, perform these computations automatically, so the user does not have to.
  • Provide translated materials where relevant. Find out more about language translation support here.

Many of these tips have been collated from the following sources:

  • WebAIM’s advice on designing for cognitive disabilities
  • AccessIQ’s website outlines practical things that can be done to design for people with cognitive disabilities the practical things can content authors, web developers and web designers can do to increase the accessibility of websites for people with cognitive disabilities

Follow the Australian Government’s Digital Service Standard

Digital Service Standards are a list of criteria that governments must meet when providing digital services. This covers all online products, including websites, intranets, user interfaces such as forms and online services, and mobile apps.

Digital Service Standards are based on putting people’s needs first and in making digital services easy to use.

At FACS, rather than reinvent the wheel, we follow the Australian Government’s Digital Service Standard. This standard came into effect in 2016 and outlines broad usability and accessibility principles for websites and digital services developed at a national level.

This Digital Accessibility Standard takes the advice from the Digital Service Standard around accessibility and expands on it, addressing areas that are specific to FACS, including our approaches and our audiences.

We also recognise the Digital by Default Service Standard used in the United Kingdom. The UK approach has set the best-practice standard for digital service delivery and the Australian Government has modelled their service standard on it.

Adhere to WCAG

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are used widely around the world as a benchmark for web accessibility.

At FACS, we adhere – at a minimum – to WCAG 2.0 Level AA.

Our goal is to take our digital accessibility beyond WCAG. In particular, we carefully consider the needs of people with cognitive disability.

WCAG has four main principles:

  • Perceivable – Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
  • Operable – User interface components and navigation must be operable.
  • Understandable – Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
  • Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents.

For each principle, there are a list of criteria that need to be met to make sure your online content is accessible. There are 38 techniques in total.

The ‘ How to meet WCAG ’ quick reference guide is a helpful starting point.

Then, you need to test and audit the digital product. See the criteria explaining how we always test, validate and verify.

You can also find out more about our criteria for reporting, fixing and reviewing .

Know the content types

At FACS, there are a range of content types. Knowing these types allows us to apply usability and accessibility for all of our audiences. It also helps us understand when we should apply various accessibility techniques.

For example, every single PDF that we publish must be accessible. However, you don’t always need to provide a plain English version of every document or web page – especially if you are publishing an academic text. However, plain English summaries are helpful.

Knowing your content types goes hand in hand with knowing your audience. Then you can work toward providing content that meets your user’s needs.

What are the content types?


When designing and developing apps for mobile or desktop use, all accessibility requirements apply. The W3C article on mobile accessibility is a good starting point. Include all the criteria in the Standard when designing and developing content for apps, including putting people firstdesigning for everyoneadhering to WCAGtesting with users and writing in plain English.


Documents include everything from legislation to fact sheets.

All documents must be accessible when sharing them online – either on the FACS intranet or on our public-facing websites. Documents should also be made accessible when sharing them widely via email or other online distribution methods.

HTML is the most accessible format and should be used wherever possible. Word is the next most accessible.

Alternative formats should be provided when publishing a document as a PDF, because of known issues on mobile devices.

No scanned PDFs are allowed on FACS websites unless an alternative is provided.

All PDFs should be tagged and have accompanying short summaries. Find out more about PDF accessibility here.

The best starting point for an accessible document is the template. If a template is accessible, the process of ensuring that the final document is accessible becomes easier. A range of FACS templates are available from Ministerial and Communication Services (MACS).

There is also a helpful range of ‘How to Guides’ on producing accessible Word and PDF documents on the FACS Intranet (for internal use).

Most documents should be written in plain English, and long documents should be broken down if possible. However, each business area will need to make an informed decision about writing academic, legal or research material in plain English. Evaluation of the needs of the audience will be critical in each instance. Plain English summaries toward the top of a web page are a great way to help a reader decide if they will access the full content of a longer document or article. Glossaries or word lists also help.

Some factsheets or other external communications might require translation into a range of languages, or an Easy Read version. Please see providing alternative formats for more information.


Forms should be clear and easy to use. You must consider the way the form will be used and the language that you use to explain the steps in completing the form.

The accessibility of the form must be taken into consideration at a technical level and you should follow the WCAG techniques for creating accessible forms. This article from Web AIM has some great advice on how to do this.

Graphics and data

Graphics should be clear and easy to understand. Check that the correct colour contrast ratio has been used. And remember that alternative text must be provided.

When writing alternative text for online content, you need to keep your description brief – preferably under 100 characters. However, if you have a complex diagram or graph that has multiple concepts, you must describe these. If 100 characters is not enough to describe the content effectively, a text description of the content can be provided in a link. When writing alternative content in a program like Microsoft Word or Adobe InDesign, you can provide longer descriptions.


You can make your presentations accessible by following the guidance for colour contrast and the provision of alternative text on images, graphs and data. If you wish to publish your presentation online, a good way to do this is to provide an accessible PDF, as well as the PowerPoint file if possible.


Research reports and papers, evaluation studies and literature reviews may be long and unwieldy for non-specialised readers. When publishing this kind of material on our intranet or public-facing websites, it is important to provide a plain English summary describing what the content is about in a clear and succinct way. Readers can then decide if they would like to read the document. The document itself should be published in an accessible format, with an alternative to PDF provided.

Social media

Unfortunately, the accessibility of third-party social media platforms is out of our hands. However, we can take steps to make sure that our use of social media considers the needs of our audience. For example, we can ensure that all of the videos we publish and share are captioned.

We can also make sure that all of the documents we share publically are accessible – that means that if someone shares a file, or a link to a file, we know that the widest range of people will be able to use it.

When people follow links to our websites, we can make sure that the web pages are accessible and that alternative formats are available.

Web pages

Web page content should be presented in clear, easy to understand text that is broken up into digestible chunks with good, descriptive headings. Providing plain English summaries about complex information is a helpful way to connect with your website visitor and let them decide if they’d like to read more.


Videos are a great way to communicate but they are not accessible to everyone if alternatives – such as captions – are not provided. At FACS, we provide captioning as a minimum, and audio description and Auslan translations in some circumstances. Find out more about the criteria for providing alternative formats here.

Write in plain English

Plain English is direct, everyday language.

According to the Plain English Campaign in the UK, plain English is:

"A message, written with the reader in mind and with the right tone of voice, that is clear and concise."

Plain English is for everyone. Plain English isn't 'dumbed-down'. It can be used for any kind of business writing and it can be aimed at any audience.

We all appreciate plain English, particularly when it helps us find and understand information quickly and easily.

When you write content for FACS, use plain English.

When you write content for any of our digital products, use plain English.

Sometimes, there will be exceptions – perhaps you need to publish a research report or a technical or academic paper, and it won’t be possible to write the whole thing in a plain, simple way. In this case, think about some helpful tools you can insert into your content, such as:

  • A plain English summary, describing the purpose and content of the material.
  • A plain English glossary or word list, explaining the key words.

There is a movement toward the use of plain English across the whole of the NSW Government, including within FACS. If you need training in this way of writing, speak to your colleagues or manager.

If you’d like some tips to help you get started right away, here are some resources that you may find useful:

Sometimes, we publish content in an Easy Read format. This is a method of presenting information in a simplified way, using pictures to support text. It is helpful when communicating with people with cognitive or intellectual disability, adults with low levels of literacy, older people and in Aboriginal audiences. When creating content specifically for these audiences, please consider the use of an Easy Read version of your material.

Make sure PDFs are accessible

At FACS, every PDF that we publish online or send electronically should be accessible. This means that a PDF will have, at minimum:

  • the correct heading structure
  • text alternatives for images
  • a document title
  • the language identified
  • the correct colour contrast levels in use
  • hyperlinks that are displayed with meaningful text – apply the link to the text, avoid repetitive text such as ‘Read more’ and avoid long web links/URLs
  • a table of contents, linking to the correct sections of the document
  • bullet points for the presentation of information in lists
  • no nested tables and – where possible – no merged, split or blank table cells
  • tables with header rows that have been specified
  • full accessibility checks performed in Adobe Acrobat
  • a manual reading order check to ensure that the content flows correctly when read out by a screen reader.

However, even if we perform the checks above, we don’t rely on PDF alone. This is largely because:

  • Not all versions of all screen readers read out PDFs consistently.
  • PDF does not currently have accessibility support on mobile devices.

Find out more about the criteria for providing alternatives to PDF here.

Provide alternative formats

It’s important to remember that not everyone uses digital content in the same way. We all have preferences for the way we browse online, save our files, write our emails or view social media. Allowing flexibility and control to rest with the user is at the heart of providing alternative formats.

Remember that not everyone is using the latest version of the software that you might be using in your work, or they may not own proprietary software like Microsoft Office.

Some people use assistive technology, such as screen readers, mobile apps and magnifying software to help them access digital content. There are vast differences in the way these kinds of tools operate and we can’t be sure that every product we produce will be used the same way with each tool. For this reason, alternative formats are essential.

Similarly, some people with sensory disability require alternative formats that meet their needs. For example, some people require Braille versions of text, audio files that read content aloud, or text descriptions of audio content.

And some people with a range of disabilities, learning needs and cognitive conditions such as dyslexia require content in a simple, clear format like plain English or Easy Read. Alternative fonts and large text sizes can be incredibly helpful in some situations.

FACS supports the use of text-to-speech software such as ReadSpeaker or BrowseAloud.

Alternative types of content should be provided wherever possible or, as a last resort, upon request.

Read more about choosing appropriate formats from the UK’s Digital Service Standard.


Videos that are published on our intranet and public-facing websites must be captioned, and where appropriate audio descriptions and Auslan should be used. When preparing your script it will need to be written in Plain English.

Captions are the text version of speech and other audible content that appears on videos, and are used to communicate with people who are Deaf or hearing impaired. People also view content with captions in noisy environments and when teaching or training others who are learning English.

Audio description is an audible narration of visual representations such as television programs, films and live performances. During gaps of dialogue it describes visual elements such as scenes, settings, actions and costumes to the viewer. Audio description is useful to people who are blind or who have low vision and people who have print, learning and/or physical disabilities.

Auslan is the Australian sign language and it is the primary or preferred language for many people in the Australian Deaf community. When producing videos for emergency communication, such as bushfires or floods, an Auslan interpreter must be present on screen for the entire duration of the video. For other videos, where possible, we recommend including an Auslan interpreter.

Auslan interpreters can be booked through the following organisations:


If your document is up to four pages long, please don’t publish it as a PDF. Please publish it as a web page instead. Documents over four pages can be published as an accessible PDF with an accompanying alternative format, such as HTML or an accessible Word document. An alternative format is required because:

  • Not all versions of all screen readers read out PDFs consistently.
  • PDF does not currently have accessibility support on mobile devices.

No scanned PDFs are allowed on FACS websites unless an alternative is provided.

The best starting point for an accessible document is the template. If a template is accessible, the process of ensuring that the final document is accessible becomes easier. A range of FACS templates are available from Ministerial and Communication Services (MACS).

Please see making sure PDFs are accessible for more information about the requirements for an accessible PDF.

There is also a helpful range of ‘How to Guides’ on producing accessible Word documents and other files on the FACS Intranet (for internal use).

Languages other than English

Alternative formats can also include content in languages other than English. We explain the criteria for providing language translation support here.

Provide language translation support

At FACS, we understand that we have a responsibility to provide content in languages other than English and that the concept of accessibility includes language translation support. We believe there are three key ways to provide language translation support, and that each has its risks or costs, and benefits:

1. Machine translation, such as Google translate


  • Inaccuracy


  • Easy to implement, Little or no cost, Fast to apply.

2. Translation of documents by a qualified translator


  • May be expensive when considering the amount of content that needs to be translated across our digital products.
  • Takes time to be done well.

Benefits :

  • High levels of accuracy when services are provided by accredited translators and a second translator is engaged to check the content before publication.

3. Telephone support provided on specific web pages


  • People may not wish to call, they may wish to have the information available to them on the web page.


  • Ongoing cost to maintain and manage.

If you are producing multi-language translations, remember that writing your content in plain English first saves time and money when translating. And don’t forget to make sure that, if your multi-language translations are provided in PDFs, they need to be fully accessible. Ask your translation supplier to ensure that WCAG compliant PDFs are provided.

Allow for assistive methods

Using assistive methods follows on from putting users first and providing alternative formats. Assistive methods allow the user the opportunity to change the content and use it in a way that meets their needs. This might include offering the ability to increase or decrease the text size, to offer a printable version of a web page and the use of tools such as apps that read content aloud.

Allowing for assistive methods can also include thinking outside of the digital space, depending on a person’s needs. Not everyone will be able to access content online, so you need to consider those people who may need to complete a transaction or interact with FACS, but can’t do so via a computer or mobile phone. This might be because they don’t have access to the technology, or because a disability or other barrier prevents them from going online.

According to the UK’s Digital Service Standard, assisted digital support can be delivered in many ways, including:

  • online, with access to appropriate support
  • over the telephone, with someone guiding the user through the service or inputting information into a system on their behalf
  • in person, at a service centre
  • via video conferencing (from a shopfront or from the persons’ location)
  • through an authorised representative of the person assisting or acting on their behalf.

The Australian Government’s Digital Service Standard also has some helpful advice on providing assisted digital support.

Test, validate and verify

Test thoroughly internally

All FACS digital products should be tested at regular intervals, both before they go live and afterwards, to make sure that:

  • they work well with the relevant browsers, platforms and devices
  • users can perform the relevant tasks and actions can be completed
  • the relevant criteria in the Standard have been met.

Accessibility testing should be part of this process, including:

  • testing with accessibility software
  • testing with assistive technology
  • testing with a broad range of users, including people with diverse abilities.

Please also follow the ongoing accessibility testing recommendations under report, fix and review. We also refer to the testing criteria outlined in the Australian Government’s Digital Service Standard .

Testing teams should be independent of the delivery team if possible.

Validate by testing with users

Understanding how people use our digital products is central to our success.

And testing with users is an essential part of making sure that our digital products meet the needs of the intended audience.

The UK Digital Service Standard has an excellent guide to setting up, running and reporting on user testing sessions. Again in the spirit of not reinventing the wheel, please use this advice to conduct user testing session for FACS.

The FACS Digital Accessibility User Network is a group of people that meets regularly and acts as a pool of people that we can tap into for user testing sessions. Please contact the Digital Team to discuss the User Network and how they may be able to assist with your user testing session.

Verify with a specialist audit

We follow best practice recommendations and ensure that our digital products are tested by an accessibility expert.

This doesn’t always have to mean contracting an external provider. Several of the members of our in-house development team are accessibility experts, and their specialist audit can be incorporated into the design and development lifecycle.

This guide from the Australian Government Digital Transformation office has excellent advice on:

  • stocktaking the service for purpose, structure, formatting and technology
  • assessing your internal capability
  • agreeing on the scope and the audit methodology
  • preparing your report.

At FACS, we follow the W3C’s Website Accessibility Conformance Evaluation Methodology (WCAG-EM) 1.0Find out more about how we use this here.

Report, fix and review

Reporting, fixing and reviewing are ways of ensuring that best-practice web accessibility is achieved both when launching a new product and when maintaining existing products.

We don’t launch new accessible products and then let inaccessible features creep in. Maintaining our high levels of accessibility is part of our core business.

At FACS, we follow the W3C’s Website Accessibility Conformance Evaluation Methodology (WCAG-EM) 1.0 to review our digital products. This methodology incorporates scoping, testing and reporting, and includes a 5-step process:

  • define the scope
  • explore the website
  • select a sample
  • audit the sample
  • report the finding.

In order to ensure that we maintain high levels of digital accessibility, we:

  • schedule ongoing testing regularly and consistently
  • fix inaccessible content as quickly as possible
  • plan for and conduct future reviews.

If you come across any accessibility issues while using our digital services, please let us know. The best way to contact the Digital Team is via email.

  • acknowledge

We acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we work and pay our respects to the Elders, both past and present.

Apology to the Stolen Generations