Training of staff is vital to ensure this successful delivery of service'. Training should cover the information systems used, general aspects of the local historic environment, research resources, communication skills, equality and diversity awareness training, with focus on specific areas if appropriate (for example disability, ethnicity) (see section F.3.4 below)'. Training may occur on the job, by e-learning or through courses, conferences and seminars.
Where an HER has a digital component, such as a database and/or GIS, or indeed a dedicated website, access appropriate to the query, user and format of that component should be considered. Direct access through a computer terminal might be offered to those familiar with the information system'. Where the information system is for trained and not casual use a simplified user-friendly interface might be designed to make it easy to frame specific enquiries'. This interface may also be suitable to provide remote access from museums, libraries or via the Internet. (See sections F.7, F.8)
HERs with online facilities should make it clear that their online resource is unlikely to consist of everything contained within the office, paper-based HER, all will contain image collections, maps, primary sources and 'grey literature'.
Remember, a lack of demand may actually be a low expectation from a group with a history of receiving low customer care'. Alternative ways of reaching out to a group may be needed such as disability forums and other consultation.
The Act applies to all organisations that provide a service to the public or a section of the public, whether it is the public sector, private sector or the voluntary and community sector.
Who is protected? The Act protects people from discrimination on the basis of ‘protected characteristics’:
What the law prohibits?
Public Sector Equality Duty
The Equality Act also introduced a Public Sector Equality Duty on all public authorities. In fulfilling this new duty the HER host authority will generally have regard to:
The RNIB can supply a 'See it Right Pack' that gives guidance on designing, producing and planning for accessible information for those with sight impairments'. All information, no matter how it is to be received, should be presented in clear, understandable language'. The Plain English Campaign has produced some useful guides to assist with this.
It is important to remember that producing documents in different formats or translations in advance will not ensure equality access to services'. Not only is this a costly exercise, it may be unnecessary'. It is more important for staff teams to be knowledgeable of the needs of their 'customer base', confident about the different processes for arranging alternative formats/translations and to be able to do this quickly and to be trained in equality and diversity to meet the needs of their customers more effectively. Panel 11 gives a model policy statement on access to buildings, facilities, services and information and an example of assessment of disabled access is given in panel 12.
All HER Users can expect:
|Deaf/Hearing impaired||HER Officer qualified in BSL (level 1).|
Written information about the HER can be provided with advance notice.
|Visually impaired||Hand-held and full-page magnifiers available.|
Digital text or data can be produced in a variety of colours and fonts.
Paper records can be supplied as enlarged photocopies.
Limited amounts of information can be read aloud to users.
|Website designed to be user-friendly to visually impaired users:|
Scalable fonts available.
Text labelling for all photographs, drawings, diagrams and so forth.
Sympathetic layout and use of colour.
Compatible with voice-synthesiser software.
|Disabled / Mobility impaired||Access ramp to be provided.|
Doors to main office sufficiently wide for wheelchair access. HER information to be provided at staff desk in main office.
Wheelchair users to offered alternative of HER information provided at Centre for Bucks Studies where ramp, full disabled access and disabled toilets available.
|Learning impaired||HER Officer available to interpret information and explain technical terms.||Easy to use website.|
Use of accessible language.
Use of images.
Thesaurus for technical terms.
Provision of interpreted thematic modules.
|Non-English language speakers||Written information about the HER can be provided in advance for users to obtain translations.|
Photocopies of paper records can be supplied for users to take away and obtain translations.
BCC staff may be available to provide limited non-technical translations (there is an informal register of BCC staff able to provide help with non-English languages).
|Summary information about the Unlocking Buckinghamshire's Past Project to be available in major European and ethnic minority languages.|
Equality and Human Rights Commission http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/
Royal National Institute for the Blind http:\\www.rnib.org.uk
Royal National Institute for the Deaf http:\\www.rnid.org.uk
Language Line (Telephone Translation Service)http:\\www.languageline.co.uk
RNID Typetalk service for those using 'text' phones (or Minicom) http://www.rnid.org.uk/information_resources/communicating_better/typetalk/
Campaign for Clear English http://www.plainenglish.co.uk