The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) regulates energy markets and networks under national energy market legislation and rules. It has an independent Board and shares staff, resources and facilities with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The AER’s functions include: setting the prices charged for using energy networks to transport energy to customers; monitoring wholesale electricity and gas markets; regulating retail energy markets; publishing information on energy markets; and assisting the ACCC with energy-related issues arising under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
The drivers for change
A major part of the AER’s work involves producing large quantities of statistical information, data, reports, and determinations on energy in Australia. Much of the information is complex and designed for consumption by energy industry specialists. This information is made available online for ease of access for both industry and the wider public.
The AER faced several challenges in the production of this important information:
Web accessibility and DDA compliance
As a federal government agency the AER (and the ACCC) has an ongoing obligation to make all its web content and information accessible to people with disabilities.
This obligation stems from both the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA), as well as the government’s official web accessibility policy, the National Transition Strategy.
As such, for both risk management and compliance reasons, it needed a way to show that all its content published on its website was accessible to people with disabilities.
The AER’s business processes around the publishing of industry data, reports and determinations in general are coordinated through a single staff member.
However, information supplied to this staff member for publishing would come from a variety of internal authors and often used different document templates, formats and styles.
As such, the staff member’s time was spent on tasks such as document remediation and accessibility training for report authors to ensure compliance with web accessibility and DDA compliance.
The AER decided to develop and introduce a single accessible report template to replace the multitude of templates currently in circulation to enable all authors to produce accessible documents for publication on the website.
The AER sought external expertise to help create the report template to facilitate these more efficient business processes.
Why Access iQ
“I made contact with Access iQ to help address our accessibility requirements having been introduced to the organisation at a recent OZeWAI conference.” — AER Web Manager.
With its reputation as the leading national supplier of web accessibility consulting services, Access iQ was at the top of the list of accessibility consultancies for the AER to call.
Access iQ has a solid reputation for working closely with their clients to deliver tailored and practical advice on improving business processes and embedding accessibility into those same processes.
“I was particularly impressed with how Access iQ took a highly collaborative approach to its working relationship with AER and how it took the time to fully understand our needs, our pain points and our desired outcome,” — AER Web Manager.
In fully considering AER’s requirements, Access iQ determined that AER’s processes could be improved through establishing accessibility at the point of content creation.
As a consequence, Access iQ proposed and executed several key deliverables:
Accessible brand and style guide
- Full review and assessment of the existing AER Style and formatting guide.
- Formulate an accessible colour palette to inform document styles and for the insertion of tables and charts.
Accessible document templates
- Evaluation of existing key document templates and recreation into accessible, compliant Microsoft Word document templates.
- Accessible AER branded MSWord 2010 Letterhead template.
- Accessible AER branded MSWord 2010 Report template.
“Having engaged Access iQ, the AER has benefited significantly through business process improvement, better compliance, and greater efficiencies in the content production and publishing process.” — AER Web Manager.
- Accessibility embedded in business processes so that information is accessible at the point of creation.
- AER more responsive through improved business processes that allow for the publishing of critical information that is both accessible, compliant and has greater readability.
- Reduced risk of complaint under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 for publishing inaccessible web information.
- Higher degree of web accessibility compliance under National Transition Strategy.