Probation Circular

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY UPDATE
PURPOSE
The purpose of this circular is to provide information to probation areas about developments which address the needs of disabled users of NPS IT systems, provide guidance regarding accessibility issues, and lay the foundations for future support of Assistive Technology (AT) users. REFERENCE NO: 81/2005 ISSUE DATE: 4 November 2005 IMPLEMENTATION DATE: Immediate EXPIRY DATE: September 2010 or until replaced TO: Chairs of Probation Boards Chief Officers of Probation Secretaries of Probation Boards CC: Board Treasurers Regional Managers AUTHORISED BY: Roger McGarva, Head of Regions & Performance ATTACHED: N/A

ACTION
Chief Officers are asked to bring this circular to the attention of all staff. Each probation area should: • Nominate a single point of contact to deal with AT issues. • Review existing local applications, websites and templates to ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to enable all users to access them. • Improve awareness of relevant staff in relation to IT support and training for AT users. • Facilitate access to the AT Knowledge Base and attendance at the national AT User Group and other similar local support groups for AT users. • Note the work on an assessment process to help identify and support AT users and be ready to use the assessment guidelines locally when they are published on the AT Knowledge Base in the near future. • Ensure that all managers with potential or actual responsibility for AT Users are trained in an understanding of AT issues and are able to facilitate and monitor the provision of AT as required.

SUMMARY
In the NPS there are in the region of four to five hundred disabled staff. NPD is making a concerted effort to ensure that the needs of disabled people in the workplace are being fully addressed. There is a corporate responsibility for the accessibility of NPS IT systems both at national and local levels. Probation ICT are responsible for ensuring that the applications they support are AT compliant and they are working with application providers to ensure that accessibility issues are addressed. Probation areas are responsible for locally produced applications. This includes any templates that are stand-alone or that interface with corporate applications through word processing interfaces.

RELEVANT PREVIOUS PROBATION CIRCULARS
None

CONTACT FOR ENQUIRIES
Annette McGranaghan, Probation ICT Business Representative Tel: 020 7217 8963. Email annette.mcgranaghan2@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk Trevor Roberts, Probation ICT AT Advisor Tel: 07899922543 Email trevor.roberts@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

National Probation Directorate
Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London, SW1P 2AW

BACKGROUND Recent changes in legislation have mandated that all IT systems should be accessible to all users. This means that, as far as possible, disabled users should not be disadvantaged when it comes to accessing IT systems. Whether the disability is a visual impairment, a mobility difficulty, RSI or dyslexia, everyone is expected to be able to access the full functionality of all new systems. This means that all new applications should be designed and developed to comply with assistive technology requirements. The new legislation has given greater impetus to the promotion of inclusive design, especially in government departments. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) has highlighted the disadvantage that some people may experience due to their disabilities. It has also drawn attention to the limitations of some of the existing IT applications in use across the NPS. POLICY ON ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY A revised policy on Assistive Technology is currently under development. It is planned to provide the basis for a robust and enduring policy that addresses all the IT requirements for disabled users. APPLICATIONS, TEMPLATES and WEBSITES Under the terms of the DDA all applications and templates should be AT compliant, i.e. they should be accessible to AT users. If this is not possible for any reason, appropriate “reasonable adjustments” should be made to assist users in accessing them. Probation ICT are responsible for ensuring that the applications they support: e-OASys, IAPS, CRAMS, Delius and ICMS are AT compliant. Wherever possible, these applications are modified to make them accessible. Similarly, they are working with providers of external applications that NPS Users are required to access (Xhibit, Libra and VISOR) to ensure that accessibility issues are addressed IAPS, Delius and ICMS are already AT-compliant. Considerable improvements for accessibility have been introduced into e-OASys, and future releases will incorporate these enhancements to ensure continuing accessibility. The development of NOMIS is following inclusive design principals, which means that accessibility is being built in as the application is developed. Early testing has provided encouraging results. As a result of negotiations with NAPO and Unison, Probation ICT undertook development work on the CRAMS contact log to make it accessible to AT users. The CRAMS AT Contact Log provides an interface to the CRAMS Contact log using the Delius application and the application is currently being piloted by AT Users in West Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. Note that NPS areas are responsible for locally produced applications (victim databases, court trackers, non NPD supported case management systems etc), websites and templates. This includes any templates that interface with corporate applications such as word processing interfaces. To ensure that NPD and NPS staff produce accessible documents and templates in future, and to enable an assessment of existing material and modification to make it AT compliant where required, Probation ICT has undertaken to produce guidance for both the Probation Directorate and areas. Preliminary guidance will be issued shortly, with more substantive guidance to follow. It will be shared with system suppliers, Probation ICT and other criminal justice agencies that provide IT systems that NPD and NPS users are required to access directly or via interfaces on their own systems (e.g. Xhibit and the Xhibit portal) TRAINING & SUPPORT Probation ICT recently ran a training program for Area IT staff so they could learn more about the assistive technology that is currently in use in the National Probation Service. The training was delivered on a regional basis by Probation ICT’s AT Software suppliers, and provided local IT support staff with an awareness of the range of AT products in use throughout NPS, the range and scope of issues associated with users, the technology and the accessibility of NPS applications and environments. PC81/2005 – Assistive Technology Update 2

This training is a significant step towards establishing a new support structure for AT users and has provided IT staff with some basic tools and strategies to help make the provision of local first line support for AT a practical reality. Further advanced training is planned for the near future. Probation ICT is also funding training for AT users of e-OASys using the applications Dragon and Jaws. A similar approach to training is planned for all Corporate Applications (including NOMIS) and to facilitate this a National Training Strategy for AT users is being prepared. AT KNOWLEDGE BASE The AT Knowledge Base contains much useful information on accessibility. It includes product descriptions, policy details, minutes of the Assistive Technology User Group Meetings, the AT Issues Log, an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section, a discussion area and information on procedures such as arranging assessments by Access to Work, and a News section. The AT Knowledge Base has been developed in Lotus Notes and is currently undergoing user acceptance testing. Following completion of testing it will be made available to areas. More details of its content and how to access it will be distributed to all areas via a STEPS Briefing Note. DEFINITION OF AN AT USER The AT Knowledge Base will contain a formal definition, but strictly speaking, “anyone that needs specialist hardware and/or software to use an IT system” is an AT user. AT hardware includes such things as Braille readers and embossers, adapted keyboards e.g. split keyboards, high contrast characters, large keys, customised devices (e.g. joystick, mouse, switches, stylus and tablet), screen magnifier hardware and appropriate audio devices (e.g. noise cancelling headsets) and any other accessories e.g. key guards. AT software includes: accessibility options in Windows e.g. Sticky Keys; magnification options; the ability to change the monitor refresh rate for people with epilepsy or certain eye conditions; voice recognition software (e.g. Dragon Naturally Speaking); screen-reader software - speech output or speech synthesizer software - (e.g. Jaws); magnification software (e.g. Zoom Text); predictive software,; keyboard emulation e.g. with a scanning interface,; software for people with dyslexia (e.g. Text Help ‘Read and Write Gold’ and Inspiration) and accessible templates (for Word and Excel) IDENTIFYING AT USERS - FORMS OF ASSESSMENT AND GUIDELINES It is vital that areas have an effective and objective assessment process in place to ensure that adjustments are put in place for users with disability. These adjustments should address the individuals’ IT access requirements and the impact on the work they are expected to do. Line managers should consult with local human resource colleagues if they are concerned that an individual has access requirements which may adversely affect their ability to use a computer effectively. An accessibility assessment determines what combination of software, user interface and IT hardware will enable the user to operate the system successfully. Recommendations may include specification of chairs to meet specific access requirements, phones or lighting for the user. The assessment may identify that the user requires specialist hardware or software to use a computer. Where AT equipment or software is recommended, the local IT Unit should advise on availability, compatibility with NPS applications and identify training needs. Some impairments may qualify employees for funding from the Job Centre Plus Access to Work scheme and the employee will be requested to liaise directly with them if appropriate. To support local HR and line management guidelines on a suggested assessment process will be published on the AT Knowledge Base.

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AT USER GROUP The national AT User Group is well-established and combines consultative and advisory functions. It focuses on the needs of users of assistive technology in the NPS and includes representatives from HMPS, NAPO and Unison. The next meeting is on 12th December 2005 in Stoke on Trent and areas should encourage and enable staff to attend this meeting and other similar local support groups. AT users who are able to attend should notify Trevor Roberts, Probation ICT AT Advisor (Email trevor.roberts@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk) who is also the chair of the national AT User Group. They should also advise him of any specific access requirements. It is planned to develop a regional structure to provide peer support to AT users and further details will be made available in due course. To support this initiative, areas are required to identify a single point of contact to act as a local coordinator for Assistive Technology issues. The names of these individuals should be sent to Trevor Roberts.

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