ES@T is a web based management tool for gathering, compiling and analysing data associated with self-assessment for the Equality Standard for Local Government (ESLG).

The ESLG was launched in 2001. Ninety per cent of all local authorities have now adopted it. It enables the mainstreaming of age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation into council policy and practice and is a voluntary best value performance indicator.

Great Example of a Web Application

This is great news for those committed to equality in the workplace, especially within public bodies in the UK. One of the challenges in adopting the ESLG is the administration that goes long with it. Originally a substantial workbook questionnaire would need to be circulated to each Service within a Local Authority, and a large set of results needs to be collected, collated and organisational totals calculated.

This activity naturally lends itself to a distributed web application. In other words one central store of information can be accessed from anywhere using a web browser. DIALOG, an equality unit of local government, realised the benefits that this would bring to Local Authorities and I was commissioned to develop the first version of this online software.

Common aspects of information tools were required; for example online reporting and Microsoft Excel spreadsheet export of information. As this tool was developed for use in within UK Government, and also specifically in an equalities context, access to the functionality had to be guaranteed to all employees of a Local Authority regardless of their manner of accessing the Internet.

Online Access for all employees

After some initial consultation with screen reader users within Local Government, and referring to the Disability Discrimination Act (1992) for guidance, interfaces were developed around three scenarios of access. One based on screen reader use, another on standard browser configuration, and also custom browser configuration. The last configuration, seen in the above screenshot, is useful for users who have set up their browsers to resize text, or to provide high contrast.

The unit that originally commissioned this work, DIALOG, was restructured and absorbed into the I&DeA. While this has meant that future versions of the software have been produced internally, I am proud to have been centrally involved in the consultancy, design, production and delivery of the original version that got this project, which enjoys continued success, off on the right foot.