Whether it’s supporting a new workplace strategy through the deployment of bespoke systems or replacing and improving existing resource booking software and procedures – considering the needs of every single user is key.

A clearly defined and properly executed accessibility strategy means all users, regardless of ability, experience a consistent level of usability. Accessibility is such an essential requirement within modern organisations that the UK government is fully committed to ensuring that all workplaces have the appropriate level of accessibility.

The Matrix Booking team deploys workplace management software across all sectors and accessibility is at the heart of our solution. As leaders in the local and regional government space, we are keen adopters of, and working towards certification in, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (known as WCAG 2.1) – an internationally recognised set of government recommendations for improving web accessibility.

Understanding accessibility guidelines

One in five people suffer from a disability, according to the Office for Disability Issues – whether that be visual, hearing, motor or cognitive (affecting memory and thinking) impairments and successful accessibility strategies mean a vast reduction in the challenges these people face during their working week. However, accessibility strategies also address wider issues and difficulties experienced by the entire workforce including geographical challenges, health and/or equipment – a fundamental goal is to ensure efficiency and ease of use of all systems in the workplace for the entire workforce. The Matrix Booking suite ensures equal access to all via some key features, including:

  • Support for industry standard screen readers
  • Carefully designed colour pallets for signage and kiosk applications for the visually impaired
  • Open API to allow links to accessibility products
  • Tailored alt text for images and labelling for the visually impaired
  • Use of WIA ARIA (Web Accessibility Initiative – Accessible Rich Internet Applications) to make web content and web applications more accessible to people with disabilities, as defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
  • Hands-free voice control

Meeting UK government accessibility requirements

Matrix Booking provides workplace management solutions to a range of government departments including the MoJ, Department of Health, Ofgem and the National Probation Service and to provide these services, Matrix Booking is working towards meeting Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1), new government backed accessibility standards.

To meet these requirements, all government digital services must meet level AA of the WCAG 2.1 as a minimum, work on the most commonly used assistive technologies – including screen magnifiers, screen readers and speech recognition tools, and include people with disabilities in user research. According to www.gov.uk – WCAG 2.1 is based on four design principles: perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. By focusing on principles, not technology, they emphasise the need to think about the various ways people interact with content. For example, users might:

  • Use a keyboard instead of a mouse
  • Change browser settings to make content easier to read
  • Use a screen reader to have content read out loud
  • Use a screen magnifier to enlarge part or all of a digital display
  • Use voice commands to navigate a website

Easy to follow voice instructions via Matrix Booking

The use of voice-activated solutions provides Accessibility support for any user of Matrix Booking. The Matrix Assist module is a state-of-the-art, innovative, voice-controlled system that enables users to manage resources ‘hands-free’ through verbal commands.

The advanced speech processing technology provides a fully accessible resource booking and workplace management software solution, which works in conjunction with the Amazon Echo. Matrix Assist uses the Matrix API to interface with the Amazon Lex system seamlessly to offer a fully accessible resource booking software solution.

The use of voice-activated speakers is a growth area – usage has doubled in the last 12-months, and they are now being used by one in ten of the UK population, according to The Future of Voice and the Implications for News – a report from the Reuters Institute at Oxford University.

The research also noted that the use of voice-activated devices is very popular with those with disabilities. The report stated that older users find it much easier to navigate using voice compared to touchscreens on smartphones/iPads or remotes on TVs.

Voice-activated solutions such as Matrix Assist also help de-clutter meeting rooms – there’s no longer a need to search for the correct remote to start the display screen or set a conference call – this can be activated by simply speaking to Alexa.

Ultimately the continued developments in technology has led to an ever increasing number of available accessibility tools and solutions. The team behind Matrix Booking, a leading workplace management tool, are committed, now and in the future, to using the very best technology available to improve efficiency and modernise the workplace for all.