General framework for designing a national e-accessibility policy

Rationale, objectives, appraisal, monitoring, evaluation, feedback.

The purpose of this document is to help e-accessibility policymakers in the Arab region strengthen national policies and legislations on persons with disabilities by developing dedicated policies on e-accessibility, to ensure that those individuals can access online governmental services and digital content via websites, mobile applications, self-service kiosks and cash machines/ATMs.

An e-accessibility policy acts as a general framework to guide and support a gradual transition towards e-accessibility, in line with standards adopted at the domestic and international levels.

A national e-accessibility policy is designed according to the same process as other Government policies.

The recommended template for designing a national e-accessibility policy is based on the ROAMEF (rationale, objectives, appraisal, monitoring, evaluation, feedback) cycle, which was adopted by the British Government as a standard template for policy creation and continuous improvement, and as a tool to help policymakers assess whether changed programmes are achieving their objectives. The cycle acts as a bridge between public policy and private-sector delivery, and can be used to assess policies, programmes and projects.[1]

Other notable policymaking models may also be used, such as the rational model of policymaking.[2]

The “rational policy-making model”, developed by the sociologist, psychologist and Nobel laureate Herbert Simon, somewhat resembles the “process-based” model, but includes additional steps that help to achieve specific objectives within the constraints imposed by a given situation. According to this model, rational decision-making can be achieved by analysing a policy based on the following five steps:

  1. Gather and organize data
  2. Identify the problem
  3. Assess the potential implications of implementing the policy
  4. Cross-reference these implications with a set of standard values
  5. Choose the best option, with the agreement of stakeholders

While the rational model has often proved useful in decision-making, it does have a number of weaknesses; many of these are linked to the assumptions on which the model is based, not all of which are true. The model also neglects the role of civil society and the private sector in policy planning and implementation.

Designing policy based on the ROAMEF cycle is a useful way to link public policy with private-sector and civil society organizations, since they are the service providers that operate in the political, economic, societal, technological, legislative, and environmental domains affected by the policy, and that define the spaces where governmental activity is carried out in each country.

This policymaking model has been used and promoted by the United Kingdom Government as a way of ensuring that policymakers are equipped with performance indicators to verify whether a policy is achieving its objectives.

Most e-accessibility policy guides include an implementation section containing guidance for senior officials in Government departments involved in promoting e-accessibility (including ministers, their deputies working on e-accessibility, officials responsible for monitoring and oversight of policy implementation, senior staff in the IT department, heads of communication, and directors of departments that run public service-websites).

Observation 1

  • National e-accessibility policy goals cannot be set without examining various alternative solutions for policy and implementation mechanisms and studying the potential impact, economic feasibility and cost of sustaining each option.
  • Each alternative will alter the hierarchy of goals, and tools such as the ROAMEF policy making cycle, the PESTLE analysis framework, and SMART goal-setting are an effective way to improve policy design, since an e-accessibility policy is a cross-cutting issue that affects public, private and civil society institutions.
  • National e-accessibility policy design will inevitably benefit from using specific criteria to assess a range of alternative solutions and compare their outcomes, timeframes and costs, based on a set framework that helps to choose the best option for the country in question.

Observation 2

  • Calculating the cost of each alternative solution in comparison with its short, medium and long-term social and economic returns is a key factor in the success or failure of a national e-accessibility policy. National policies that are overly ambitious compared with their annual budget allocation are bound to miss their implementation targets for lack of funding.

Observation 3

  • It is crucial to seek direct feedback and reactions, including from stakeholders (such as public service providers, specialized civil society organizations and final beneficiaries of national policy), in order to continually improve the policy and its outcomes based on real-world evidence.

[1]Institute for government (2003). Policy Making in the Real World. Evidence and analysis. The ROAMEF policy cycle – page 25

[2]I think we can refer to the Arabic version only :