Reaching an extra one million people by 2020 means that ReachOut must work for everyone regardless of their technical ability, background or resources. Here are a few ways we’re working to make ReachOut.com more inclusive – including our new Design for Inclusion Toolkit.

Inclusive digital design is important so that services like ReachOut work for as many people as possible. When a service is created by a group of people with a particular type of life experience, it may not work for other groups with different life experiences – especially when those groups are less privileged than the designer. When less privileged groups are left out of the process they may not relate to the digital world they see, reducing the benefit they get from the service. That’s why it’s so essential to create digital spaces that are relevant to their lives.

Tools and websites that use features that aren’t easy to use or appealing to specific user groups can exclude them, perpetuating disadvantage rather than helping to break it down. For ReachOut to run an accessible service that works for everyone, we need to remove barriers that prevent young people and parents from knowing about and using ReachOut. That’s why we’ve created our five principles for inclusion: equity, accessibility, applicability, affordability and availability.

It’s easy to exclude groups of users due to their preferences, levels of literacy or technical skills but the onus is on us to create products and services that work for a range of people and groups.

We’ve worked out who we can do more for at ReachOut:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and parents
  • Young people and parents with disabilities
  • Young people living with a mental illness
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse young people and parents
  • Low literacy groups
  • Young people and parents who are homeless and from low socioeconomic backgrounds
  • Young people and parents in regional and remote areas
  • Young people and parents who identify as LGBTQI

One action we’ve taken recently is to raise the visibility of young people from diverse and minority backgrounds in our photography. The new ReachOut.com now visually reflects the diverse community we live in, making it clear that our content is relevant to everyone and making all feel welcome.

screenshot of reachout.com featuring  images of young people from diverse backgrounds
We’ll continue to work hard on making ReachOut as inclusive as possible. While we’re at it, here are a few tips from our Design for Inclusion Toolkit. We initially created it as an internal guide, but we’d love for you to download and use it too.

  • A person is always a person first. Say ‘a person who has a disability’ or ‘a person who identifies as LGBTIQ’.
  • Accessibility works best when built in from the start. So plan and budget for accessibility and collaboration with community representatives or organisations from the outset.
  • When producing imagery or video content, care should be taken to include settings and backgrounds from different areas (like suburbs that reflect a range of socioeconomic backgrounds and remoteness). Likewise, images should reflect the cultural makeup of Australia, which means that people from diverse groups can see themselves reflected in our service.
  • Go straight to the source: if you’re designing something with a particular group in mind, involve them in its creation. Ideally you’ll have a representative of that group available for guidance when needed (don’t try to guess the right answer – it’s always best to ask the experts).

Read more: download our Design for Inclusion Toolkit (PDF).

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