Brent Council admit website is ‘past it’ and confirm upgrade

The current Brent Council website homepage

The current Brent Council website homepage - Credit: William Mata

Brent Council has announced a website upgrade, following criticism their current online platform is “inaccessible” to the blind.

A study by codemantra found it is one of several local authority sites not meeting a legal duty to offer a user-friendly experience to those with impaired vision, motor difficulties, cognitive impairments or learning disabilities, deafness or impaired hearing. 

A codemantra spokesman offered: “Brent Council is among dozens of London authorities that are still not compliant with UK regulations and globally-recognised accessibility standards, with the error affecting hundreds of documents and forms. 

“This means that London residents who live with visual impairments or reading disabilities are denied access to important information and services and unable to complete forms they cannot read.”

The study found that out of 529 documents, 526 were non-compliant, giving the website a total accessibility score of just 1/100 for documents. 

Mark McCallum, of codemantra, said: “This failure is akin to providing wheelchair access into a building, but not having an elevator once inside. 

“Particularly as Covid infections are rising, it is crucial that sight disabled Londoners are able to access information and find support where they live.”

A Brent Council spokesperson said in the past two years there has been an effort to improve the site, including removing inaccessible PDFs and replacing them with user-friendly versions. They have also added information onto the website to make it easier to find. 

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"Despite these improvements,” the statement added, “We know our current website has come to the end of its shelf life, so we have been working on a new website which is set to launch imminently. 

“The new website has been built specifically for, and in partnership with, residents and service users. It has accessibility at its core and promises a smoother customer experience for everyone, including those with a disability or who may need additional support.

"As we launch the new site, we will seek feedback from all our residents to make sure it develops in a way to best serve the needs of the local community."

To have your say, visit: customerportal.brent.gov.uk/contact-centre-anonymous