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DHSS Website Accredited 24 February 2006

    The Department of Health and Social Security is delighted to announce that its website (www.gov.im/dhss) has gained AA accreditation under the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Accessibility Guidelines.

    David Killip, DHSS Chief Executive said,

    “In this electronic age, more and more people are looking to the internet for information and to compliment the service provided by our staff. Therefore, it is absolutely vital that when on the Department’s website, all information is accessible to all users regardless of disabilities, technical ability or computer limitations. This accreditation not only proves that our website is accessible, it also reassures our electronic customers of our commitment to high quality service.”

    In light of the impending Disability Discrimination Act, it has never been more important to ensure that websites are accessible to all browsers including visually impaired people and people with reading difficulties as well as people using very basic computers and modems.

    There is not an official set of accessibility standards. However, the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) states that Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 Priority 1 and 2 will generally be used as the guideline against which sites are evaluated. The accreditation gained by the DHSS website meets the criteria at both Priority 1 and 2.

    In addition to gaining accreditation, the DHSS has taken the opportunity to revamp the site. The aim was to support the principles of accessibility and make the site even more user-friendly. This involved an overhaul of the homepage, a rethink of the site’s mapping and how browsers navigate the site.

    Functionality is not the only enhancement on the site. The content of the sight has also been given a lot of thought, which has led some new features on the site.

    The site now has a ‘Weekly Features’ page. DHSS members of staff will write articles giving information and advice about health, social care and social security topics important to the public. A new ‘Press Office’ page will contain up to date news as well as being a central online information point for press and media about the DHSS (Not yet available on the site). There will also be an online version of the staff newsletter Intouch, which as well as being full of useful information and advice, will give the public a unique insight into the people who work for the Department, their achievements and how hard they work to ensure the best possible service.

    Castletown based IT company PDMS business solutions, designed and developed the new look DHSS website and they also support the development of the wider government website (www.gov.im).

    Chris Gledhill, PDMS Managing Director commented,

    "Our web development team have enjoyed working with the DHSS on this project which has put their knowledge of accessibility in web design to good use. We look forward to working with other Government departments as they follow the DHSS' lead in obtaining W3C accreditation and making www.gov.im a benchmark site for accessibility and usability”

    The website is obviously a very useful medium for providing information, but it is perhaps more useful to provide a channel for communication. Not just between the Department and the public but also between patients, friends and family. With that in mind, the new website features a patient email service for patients at Ramsey and District Cottage Hospital. This service allows well wishers to email their friend/relative at the hospital and that email is delivered directly to the patient. The Department hopes that this scheme will be on offer for patients in Noble’s Hospital in the near future.

    24th February 2006

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