National approach needed to enhance accessibility in public sector bodies



A national approach is needed to support the many public sector bodies that are failing to comply with existing accessibility legislation, according to new research from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)

Authored by Leanne Hughes and Kim Tooke and funded by the CIPR’s PR Research Fund – ‘How can consistent accessibility and inclusion practice become part of public sector operational culture?’ - explores the challenges in making communications accessible and inclusive and examines the barriers and opportunities to this in public sector communications. To avoid duplicating efforts at a local level, a national approach to inclusivity and accessibility would be more effective, cheaper, and consistent for the public as well as benefitting the NHS and councils. 

The report includes findings from desk research and eight qualitative interviews with public sectors professionals and highlights the value of accessibility expertise, training, and executive-level support. It found many organisations shifted responsibility for making content accessible to their communications teams with many practitioners unable to identify where responsibility for this lay within their organisations.

Leanne Hughes Chart.PR

Through this research we set out to identify some of the underlying challenges and opportunities professionals face when attempting to implement a culture of inclusive and accessible communications within an organisation. 

We hope that the findings demonstrate some of the drivers for real progress and consistent ways of working, as well as offering some practical next steps. 

We would like to thank CIPR for supporting our first research opportunity in this very important area of professional practice."

Leanne Hughes Chart.PR
Kim Tooke MCIPR

All communications should be inclusive. In the UK, public sector websites and apps must be accessible. This applies to the NHS, local council and government. It’s so important for all citizens to be able to engage with digital information and services. 

We hope our research reminds the public sector why inclusive communications are essential. And provides practical guidance and advice to change their approach. Our aim is for all public sector organisations to be more inclusive. 

Thank-you to CIPR for supporting this research. And for helping to raise awareness of this important topic across our profession.

Kim Tooke MCIPR
  • The report was funded by the CIPR Research Fund, now in its fourth successive year. The Fund awards grants of up to £2000 to CIPR members at any stage of their career to conduct independent PR research to support the development and advancement of the wider profession, in line with the Institute’s Royal Charter and five-year strategy. Applications are decided by members of the CIPR’s Research Fund Panel.

About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations 

Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the world's only Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners with over 10,000 members. 

The CIPR advances professionalism in public relations by making its members accountable to their employers and the public through a code of conduct and searchable public register, setting standards through training, qualifications, awards and the production of best practice and skills guidance, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and awarding Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status (Chart.PR).