Cardiff Institute for the Blind
Cardiff Institute for the Blind are Cardiff’s oldest charity, founded in 1865 as the Association for Improving the Social and Working Conditions of the Blind by Frances Batty Shand.
One of Cardiff’s earliest charity activists, Miss Shand worked to improve the living conditions of street children and people living with sight loss. She opened a workshop to employ blind men, who made baskets for carrying coal to steam ships as part of Cardiff’s booming coal trade, and since then, CIB – through a number of name changes – have worked to make every day better for blind and partially-sighted people in South Wales.
The history of CIB is interwoven with the history of Cardiff. Their first premises were on Longcross Street in Adamsdown, but they moved to Shand House on Newport Road after a German air raid destroyed their old building in 1941. They stayed there until 2012, when, following their association with the nationwide organisation the Royal National Institute for the Blind, they moved into joint premises in Jones Court, Womanby Street, in the heart of Cardiff.
This year is the celebration of their 150th anniversary, so it was the ideal time for them to think about redeveloping their online presence.
With a mission to engage users of all ability, Cardiff Institute for the Blind (CIB) needed a new website that was fully compliant with accessibility standards and would help draw in new partners and volunteers to help support the charity.
CIB offer many regular clubs, social groups and activities for people living with sight loss, as well as information and training sessions for their members. As a volunteer organisation, they need to make it easy for people to sign up to help them, as well as for them to find information about supporting CIB through other efforts, such as fundraising. With so many details to communicate, it was important that the structure of the site, as well as the layout of the individual pages, would help to make the content easy to navigate.
As CIB are advocates for people living with site loss, it was crucial that the site be fully compliant with current website accessibility standards. It needed to be optimised for screen-reading devices, and we also included a high-contrast version of the site to aid partially-sighted people to browse the information available.
As their old site wasn’t responsive, our first step was to make sure that the new design looked good on mobile devices as well as desktop screens. With a focus on user interaction, we built the homepage to offer a clear overview of all the information that CIB has available. It focuses on identifying the common pathways through the site that users will want to follow, to make it as intuitive to navigate as possible.
We made sure that there were as few clicks as possible between people landing on the site and being able to find the support they need. The “How can we help you today?” section of the homepage offers eight starting points for site users, to let them move quickly to the pages that they want.
One feature we’re particularly fond of is that individual pages have built-in flexibility so administrators can add specific pieces of information – such as the relevant member of staff to contact, or other upcoming events site visitors might be interested in. From a user experience perspective this makes the site much simpler to use, but it also allows us to list information in a visually pleasing manner.