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4. Be inclusive, and provide ethical and equitable services

  • Ensure services are accessible on a fair and equitable basis, incorporating the unique needs of individuals and community expectations.
  • Design services which address cultural/language, disability, technological or access barriers to uptake.
  • Provide alternatives where there may be a preference to interact with people instead of digital channels.
  • Use plain language, be consistent and concise.

Why it matters

Don't assume that everybody will be able to use your service. Make sure your digital service can be used by:

  • the widest possible range of people, including disabled people
  • people using diverse devices and technologies
  • people that can’t access it online for any reason.

Use plain language. Write content to meet specific user needs, using words and phrases that make sense to them. The way you write and structure your content should help people find what they need and complete their tasks quickly.

Services need to be ethical according to our human rights and legal and cultural responsibilities. It is also becoming an increasingly important consideration as service automation increases. In the age of growing machine learning and artificial intelligence it is important that:

  • transparency and accountability of algorithms is maintained
  • ethical principles are applied to the treatment of personal data and information
  • algorithmic oversight and responsibility is assured by humans
  • strong documentation is created and maintained to facilitate ethical design.

How to meet this principle

At a minimum you should describe:

  • which decision-making processes are automated and who has oversight or responsibility of these decisions, and any escalation processes
  • your consideration of personal, cultural, situational and environmental limitations that affect a user’s ability to access the service and how you plan to support users, including how you plan to meet accessibility standards
  • what digital or non-digital assistance will be needed to support users; for example web chat, telephone assistance, service intermediaries, face-to-face
  • an understanding of the whole process, so any piece of information can be written to work in the context of the whole.

At a minimum you should be able to demonstrate that:

  • artificial intelligence use, automated policy tools, rules engines and other automated services have human oversight, input and/or intervention where necessary
  • your team has the skills necessary to understand and create accessible services, including technical and content accessibility
  • you have a way to continually identify and mitigate barriers to access
  • your designs have been tested with users from different backgrounds and languages and users with disabilities and barriers to access have been addressed
  • how your service can cater for people without digital access, with low digital literacy and how you support people unable to use, or struggling with, the digital service
  • you have considered the impact of inherent personal and cognitive bias of organisational culture and motivations.

Rules, requirements and directives to follow


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