All local authorities (LAs) in Wales webcast their council meetings, and it’s been a legal requirement since 2014. The White Paper – Reforming Local Government, states that the Welsh Government intends to introduce a mandatory requirement on all authorities to broadcast their meetings.
As part of our work, we were asked to look at what systems local authorities are using to live stream their meetings.
We did this desk-based research to share the software used across Wales and some digital accessibility and usability findings across them.
Software used in webcasting council meetings
13 of the 22 local authorities (59%) use Public-i to deliver their webcasting services to people.
To test the accessibility of the service, we used the W3C standards.
- YouTube was the only software that provided captions, transcripts, and alternative text for the video content.
- All providers were easy to use using only keyboard keys.
- Public-i video content auto-played video content which is a failure of the accessibility standards.
Heuristic evaluation tools were used to test the usability of the webcasting service.
- All video content was easily accessed via a unique hyperlink for easy sharing of webcasting content.
- The only software not to provide direct links to sections of the content was the Civica software. The team at the Vale of Glamorgan did a great work-around for this with a menu to the right-hand side (desktop) or below (mobile) with the timing of that section of the meeting clearly identified.
- All of the software used worked well across all browsers (using Lambda testing) and devices.
These findings were shared with the Heads of Democratic Services in June 2021.
The Centre for Digital Public Services has been doing a lot of work in the democratic services space with Welsh Government so we will work with them to see where this work will fit.
The feedback from the Heads of Democratic Services was to investigate standard solutions across Wales and the resources required to implement the legislative requirements and statutory guidance which will set out which meetings should be webcast.