Digital accessibility is important

23 December 2021

Patricia Bolink is Advisor Digital Accessibility at the municipality of Deventer. With her background as a project leader at the Accessibility Foundation and her own experience as an experience expert, Patricia knows better than anyone how important digital accessibility is. That is why she is involved in the implementation of accessibility as a precondition in the processes and organization in Deventer.

What do you do at the municipality of Deventer?

I try to guarantee digital accessibility in everything we offer the public digitally at the municipality. But that is a big job, so I started with an inventory of all online public facilities and the status of their digital accessibility. With this I lay the foundation to be able to put the whole house straight afterwards. Right now I'm mainly investigating what steps we need to take.

Is there a clear route or approach for improving digital accessibility at a municipality?

No, there isn't, I still have to reinvent the wheel. That is why I am also a member of the boosting team of the Dutch Municipalities and the Association of Dutch Municipalities. We focus on making it easier for municipalities to improve digital accessibility by developing tools and drawing up policy. We look at best practices to learn from each other.

Do you have the idea that digital accessibility is alive in municipalities?

Well, many municipalities are still a bit on hold, looking at what is happening, how others are handling it. It is often thought that the problem will solve itself. Municipalities still lack awareness of the problem, the target group that is really large is not sufficiently noticed. And that while that target group is much larger than most municipalities think. Awareness is the magic word, a lot still needs to be done. After the awareness, the culture shift can come. To that end, I think it is necessary to organize meetings where experts by experience, like me, can talk about the meaning and importance of digital accessibility. Especially in today's world.

What is your wish for the future?

For myself, that is that I want to develop further as an Accessibility Officer. This is where I can contribute to ensuring that digital accessibility is really incorporated into the DNA of the organization and employees, so that it is included right from the start and is part of daily practice.