Accessibility guide cover 2nd edition

Including accessibility in projects

By building in accessibility early and incorporating it in your projects at the beginning, you’ll save time and money, as it is more expensive to retrofit later. This process is called "born accessible".

Below is guidance for ensuring your projects are accessible for disabled people, regardless of whether it is in print, online information, or an application.

1. Engage with print disabled DPOs at the start of the project

By engaging early with DPOs through, you can allocate time and budget into your project.

The DPOs will advise on:

  • the appropriate alternate formats for the project
  • the budget needed to produce alternate formats
  • the timeframe needed to complete the alternate formats (usually a minimum of 4 weeks)
  • the process for producing alternate formats and any testing that’s needed
  • how to structure the content so it is accessible
  • if the audience might need additional context for the information.

Email if your project wants usability testing done by disabled people.

2. Include accessibility in tender documents and contracts

Accessibility is a non-negotiable requirement for contractors and providers and can be included in an RFPs or contracts. Make sure you are clear about what you mean by accessibility. For online development work, Web Standards are an IT procurement requirement.[15]

Ask contractors and providers to provide evidence that their products or services can comply with accessible requirements.

3. Test for accessibility against the Web Standards

Test your product against the Web Standards throughout the design and build phases. The Marketplace lists suppliers who provide web accessibility services.[16] Potential users can test for accessibility - email if you need help with user testing.

4. Follow the process for producing alternate formats

Develop your content with an accessible structure, language and formats following the guidance from DPOs, the information in this guide and your agency's standards.

5. Communicate alternative formats are available

Ensure that the communications plan includes details of how the information will be promoted and distributed. Ask the DPOs for advice on alternate formats, if it needs to be distributed to NGOs, community organisations and external stakeholders.

6. Feedback

Encourage your audience to provide feedback and respond to feedback in a timely way.

Feedback is a useful way to review how accessible a product or service is, and to find out more about your audience and their needs.

7. Share experiences with colleagues and provide training where needed

Identify ways people can share their experiences with creating accessible information within their teams, their organisation and wider with other agencies.

A two-hour training session on accessible information and communications is provided free of charge for government agencies. To find out about the training, please email

Prioritising accessible communications, information and tools

The list below identifies ways to prioritise which communications, information and tools should be made accessible. Each agency will have individual priorities so the list is not exhaustive, nor is it in any order of priority.

Priority should be given to information that:

  • is aimed specifically at disabled people or has a significant impact on disabled people and/or their families and/or whānau
  • is needed to exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship (such as voting or paying tax)
  • is needed to make an informed decision, receive payments or other services
  • is of a personal or confidential nature (eg if it relates to medical or financial issues)
  • could result in legal consequences or loss of rights if not acted upon (eg census or voting information)
  • seeks a response from the public (eg consultation documents)
  • is in response to correspondence from a disabled person who has expressed a preference for a particular format.

Where information is not considered a high priority, it will be necessary to address it on a case-by-case basis.

For example, it might be appropriate to provide several lengthy documents in an alternate format to an individual who needs them to use in a court case.

All new documents should be made available in alternate formats, while recognising that some pre-existing documents, communications and tools may also be important enough to justify transcribing into alternate formats.

Under certain circumstances, it might be decided to provide a summary version of a longer document as a minimum alternative to providing the complete document, eg documents longer than 10 pages.

Accessibility guide cover 2nd edition
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