5.3 Communicating and doing business with us | Brisbane City Council

5.3 Communicating and doing business with us

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Table of contents

1. Pedestrian mobility and transport

1.1 Walking, wheeling and driving safely around Brisbane

1.2 Catching public transport

2. Planning, development and infrastructure

2.1 Being actively engaged in planning an accessible city

2.2 Enjoying a well-designed built environment

2.3 Appreciating the benefits of civic infrastructure

3. Public buildings, venues and outdoor spaces

3.1 Public buildings that make you feel welcome

3.2 People friendly public spaces

3.3 Local meeting places where you can connect with your community

3.4 Parks and natural areas where you enjoy the great outdoors

4.Vibrant, informed and caring communities

4.1 Experiencing the support of inclusive, safe and diverse communities

4.2 Enjoying Brisbane's vibrant arts and culture scene

4.3 Staying active and healthy

4.4 Using libraries for lifelong learning

4.5 Adopting a more sustainable lifestyle

5. Your Council, working with you

5.1 Being an active citizen in an inclusive democracy

5.2 Having a say on the work we do that matters to you

5.3 Communicating and doing business with us

5.4 Understanding how local laws, rules and procedures relate to you

5.5 Keeping Brisbane clean, recycling waste and breathing clean air

5.6 Working in a disability confident organisation

5.7 Knowing your rates are paying for accessible services

Council is committed to keeping residents informed and making it easy for conducting business. Brisbane's Customer Charter documents our values, service standards and what customers can expect from us. It commits us to:

  • relate to all people with honesty, fairness, sensitivity and dignity
  • meet specified service standards to communicate in a timely manner
  • deliver value services
  • be clear and open in reporting decisions and actions
  • consult on key decisions
  • deal with complaints fairly, promptly and professionally

We currently provide four contact channels for customers: mail, face-to-face, telephone and online. The phone and online channels are a 24-hour a day, seven-day-a-week service. We offer a wide range of payment options including through third party providers.

We also communicate published material in a range of formats including brochures, fact sheets, newsletters, reports, advertisements, billboards, website, Twitter, Facebook, and a new platform for mobile devices.

Where we are

Our Customer Focus Strategy has three principles that provide a strong foundation for accessible and inclusive customer service:

  • engagement – understanding and involving customers
  • simplicity – making it simple and convenient to deal with Council
  • integrity – delivering on established customer service standards

We are proud of our Contact Centre and have received recognition for its personal customer focus. Contact Centre staff are a diverse and highly professional group who are trained in providing quality customer service for all callers. We encourage diversity and fairness and provide the facilities needed so that staff who have a disability can be comfortable and productive in their workplace. Staff are experienced in using the National Relay Service to communicate with customers who are Deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment but we recognise that this is an outdated technology and are exploring how SMS, email and web-chat technologies could better facilitate communication.

Social networking, multimedia and mobile devices are transforming communication and our digital marketing team, established in 2010, is exploring the potential for using these technologies to make our communication channels more accessible and inclusive.

At the end of 2009, we commissioned Vision Australia to undertake an audit of the corporate website for general accessibility compliance and accessibility of PDF documents. The Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy, endorsed by the Australian Government Information Management Office in 2010, is guiding the way Council's online environment is shaped. We are evaluating requirements for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) transition and implementation.

Council provides Auslan interpreters to facilitate communication on involved matters and we are developing a new procedure to inform our staff about how to use these services to better meet customer needs.

Our Information and Communications Technology Policy recognises that many Council activities are conducted online, and the importance of ensuring that external customers and internal employees can benefit from the medium.

Where we want to be

We want to be a customer-focused organisation delivering the highest level of service to all Brisbane residents, being responsive, understanding and engaging with people's needs and proactively managing their expectations. We want to minimise the barriers that make it hard for some members of the community to communicate and do business with Council.

Our objectives

  1. Enhance our style guides and guidelines to achieve contemporary good practice in publishing accessible and inclusive information materials.
  2. Provide an Information and Communications Technology environment for employees and the community that is as accessible, understandable and useable as possible.
  3. Achieve level A compliance of our corporate website with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 by December 2012, and level AA by December 2014 (except guideline 1.2, use of multimedia).
  4. Promote and become adept in the day-to-day use of Auslan and other interpreter services.
  5. Explore the potential for new technologies to provide innovative ways for customers to communicate with Council.

Existing actions that will continue

Contact Centre National Relay Service interface

Council's Contact Centre will continue to use the National Relay Service for communicating with customers who are Deaf or have hearing or speech impairments, promoting this channel on Council information materials.

Communication platform for mobile devices

brisbanecity.mobi, Council's communication platform optimised for all internet enabled mobile devices, was launched in 2010 and opened new communication channels. We will continue to extend the use of the platform so our services are more accessible and inclusive.

Digital marketing

Our Digital Marketing team will continue to explore how to make our communication channels more accessible and inclusive in online, mobile, multimedia and social networking environments.

Corporate website accessibility upgrade

We will continue to take action on the recommendations of the Corporate Website Accessibility Audit undertaken by Vision Australia at the end of 2009 including implementation of consistent guidelines for web content producers across Council.

Web Accessibility Working Group

We will formalise this working group where Council staff working on web access issues across the organisation will continue to coordinate efforts to make our online content accessible and inclusive.

New initiatives or extensions

  1. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 compliance for forms. We recognise we have a legacy of forms in formats that some (particularly older) versions of screen reader software struggle with. Over the life of this plan, we will continue to respond to requests to make particular forms accessible and keep up-to-date with new technologies to make online forms as accessible as possible. Our work units will be encouraged to explore direct assistance as an alternative where the complexities are too great or the costs are prohibitive given the number of users.
  2. WCAG 2.0 compliance for web content. We recognise that we will need people across the organisation to become competent with WCAG 2.0 and will provide information, advice and training to meet staff needs. In particular, we recognise that we have a legacy of non-HTML content on the corporate website and CityWeb (Council's internal intranet) and will provide alternative display methods for such content over the life of this plan.
  3. Open data for access and inclusion applications. We will make access and inclusion a priority for our Open Data Project. A design competition will encourage innovative applications that enhance awareness and usage of Council facilities by people with complex sensory and communication needs.
  4. Enhancing style guides. Council's written materials follow writing, web and visual style guides that require the use of easy words, concise sentences, active voice, accessible fonts and uncluttered layout. In the life of this plan, we will enhance these style guides, with a view to incorporating the latest understanding and community feedback about accessible and inclusive communication.
  5. Plain Language Project. We will use the outcomes of the Plain Language Project (a partnership between Council and the University of Queensland in 2011-2012) to create documents that are easy for everyone to understand. We will avoid jargon and bureaucratic wording, replace complex sentences with concise ones, and design and layout our documents to make them as accessible as possible.
  6. Training in creating accessible documents. We will provide information and training to Council staff responsible for producing documents so they understand that design and layout can have a big effect on the accessibility of the documents they produce.
  7. Auslan and other interpreter services. Over the life of this plan, we will promote the day-to-day use of Auslan and other interpreter services for communication with customers, and collect information on the usage of these services.
  8. Webchat or SMS customer interface. Over the life of this plan, we will investigate and implement an interface for customers to initiate a webchat or SMS communication with our Contact Centre.
  9. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Policy review. We will review accessibility provisions in our ICT Policy and expand current content beyond the online environment. This recognises the importance of an ICT environment for employees and the community that is as accessible, understandable and useable as possible and will ensure adequate provision for accessibility is included in our ICT solutions.
  10. ICT Accessibility Procedure. We will develop and adopt a new ICT Accessibility Procedure to guide employees who plan, design and procure ICT goods and services.
  11. Complex Communication Working Group. We will establish a Council-community working group to explore how we can use Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) to enhance inclusion for people using our parks, libraries, customer service and community programs.
  12. Customer Focus and training. We will bring access advisors in to train our staff to understand and respond positively to the diverse needs of their customers and make this a priority for our Customer Focus program over the life of this plan.
  13. Public awareness campaigns. We will work with Queensland and Commonwealth governments and Brisbane community groups supporting their public awareness campaigns that focus on building awareness on access and inclusion issues and preventing discriminatory behaviour.
  14. Including positive images in Council materials. We will ensure Council publications and promotional materials support positive perceptions of diversity by including positive images of people with a disability of all cultural backgrounds in corporate publications.

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03 November 2014