Inland Revenue is the New Zealand government department that collects tax revenue and administers a number of social support programmes. Inland Revenue wanted to do an accessibility audit on the myIR portion of its website, as it was doing a user experience redevelopment of that section.
MyIR is Inland Revenue’s secure online services facility, and people can use it for tasks such as checking personal tax information, filing tax returns, and applying for payments.
For the redevelopment of myIR, Inland Revenue was thinking widely about different people and prioritising their use of the system, particularly vulnerable groups, such as people with low literacy rates. Accessibility in all forms was important; not just WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), but also usability.
Catalyst is the first supplier in New Zealand to be approved by the Department of Internal Affairs on the New Zealand Marketplace for Web Accessibility. This appointment requires a vendor to go through a rigorous assessment process and shows that Catalyst is recognised as a leader in web accessibility in New Zealand. Catalyst’s presence on the Marketplace made it easy for IR to contact and choose us.
In consultation with Catalyst’s expert UX and Accessibility teams, IR decided to do both a UX audit, and an accessibility audit to WCAG 2.1AA compliance. Government websites are required to comply with WCAG standards.
Accessibility is integral for providing users with a robust, complete and usable web experience. It is essential that all users, regardless of their environmental or physical situations, are able to access the online services provided by government agencies. Twenty-four percent of New Zealanders identify as disabled - that's 1.1 million people, and doesn't include undiagnosed disabilities. Moreover, it's expensive to be inaccessible: users who can’t access web content end up contacting organisations through phone, email or in person, which is the more expensive alternative.
MyIR is an older legacy system that has had a lot of different developers working on it and implementing changes over the last six years. Usually we can look at components that get repeated, and elements that are the same across multiple pages, for example, the navigation bar. With this project we couldn’t make that assumption because it was built over such a long period of time by different people. This made the audit a big project as there were no short-cuts.
Inland Revenue identified different aspects that were important to them, and gave Catalyst four user studies to consider while conducting the audits. For example, a business owner who wants their assistant to be able to file their tax returns, or someone who wants to add a family member to their record, such as a child or a spouse. The website audit involved dashboard pages as well as process, for example filling out forms, going through a process, and receiving confirmation.
At Catalyst, our accessibility offerings are informed by WCAG 2.1 AA standards as well as an expertise in key business roles. Catalyst’s accessibility team measured each page on the website against the WCAG 2.1AA standards. For each flow, there were 13 – 20 pages to examine, times four. We drip fed results to IR as they were produced to keep them up to date throughout the project via weekly meetings that fostered a good relationship between Catalyst and IR.
At the end of the project Catalyst did a presentation and had a positive conversation with Inland Revenue. They knew there were usability issues, but didn’t necessarily know the accessibility issues that were present.
We highlighted five themes that we found issues with. For each theme we discussed the issues, provided examples, and also provided solutions. This is a key part of Catalyst’s audit services: we don’t just identify a list of problems, we provide a list of solutions as well.
The report we presented gave the IR team concrete numbers to validate the things they sensed were wrong. Catalyst gave them the compliance data needed to have internal conversations on how best to develop and improve their myIR service, making it easier for New Zealanders to pay their taxes and receive their entitlements.