Case Study

Widening access to access: How Euan’s Guide reinvigorated communication with their community using groundbreaking BSL technology

Widening access to access: How Euan’s Guide reinvigorated communication with their community using groundbreaking BSL technology

Euan’s Guide is an award-winning disabled access charity, best known for, the disabled access review website where disabled people, their families, friends and carers can find and share the accessibility of venues around the UK and beyond. Additionally, their work also includes making tens of thousands of accessible toilets safer, running the UK’s largest Access Survey and lots more.

The charity was founded in 2013 by Euan MacDonald MBE, a powerchair user, and his sister Kiki after Euan was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease. They discovered how the lack of disabled access information made everyday experiences stressful and Euan’s Guide was born after discovering that other disabled people experienced the same challenges.

The charity had identified two areas in which they would benefit from both hardware and software support, both of which they anticipated would provide numerous benefits both for their existing and potential users, and applied to the Community Creative Tech Fund for a number of tools and digital solutions. The first was both streamlining and diversifying the ways in which they connected to and communicated with their community, and in particular revolutionising how BSL users could access their rich content, and participate with the website as comprehensively as those without hearing loss.

A number of pieces of hardware, including a MacMini and MacBook Pro proved transformational to the speed and longevity of EG’s internal server, as well as saving huge time and frustration for team members with its lighting fast ability to complete process intensive tasks. With such a small team servicing so many venues and users, every minute counts, and even these two pieces of equipment made an immediate and significant difference to what the team could achieve daily across all elements of their activity, freeing up time to spend supporting beneficiaries who use EG’s services as well as the venues, places and spaces they help to make more accessible and the partners with whom they work.

Image: Euan’s Guide homepage

A subscription to communication tool Mailchimp allowed EG to segment its database into different audiences and tailor email campaigns for their needs, increasing relevance, open and clickthrough rates. Team and workflow services such as Airtable, Jotform, Ahrefs and Zapier combined to make team communication and asset sharing more fluid, and drive increased traffic to

A further subscription to allowed EG to run their Virtual Community Initiative which, whilst still in its infancy, will allow EG to connect some of their different audiences and hopefully cross pollinate – for example setting up a “toilet talk” community will hopefully encourage people to engage with more disabled access content and share further knowledge amongst users. This activity has also increased volunteer engagement, both in person and virtually, who have expressed appreciation at being granted early access and whose views on how best to shape its future use are being actively sought and implemented.

Since launching their website in 2013, Euan’s Guide have wanted to become more relevant to D/deaf community. Signly, a programme which adds sign language to websites, appeared to address this aspiration in a comprehensive manner. However, as a specialist service, it came with a high annual cost (£20,000), beyond the current financial capacity of the charity, and it proved a challenge to find funds with sufficiently large grant amounts to fund such a tool. Having negotiated with the ignly team, Euan’s Guide succeeded in reducing their annual fee to £10,000, which could be sufficiently covered by the Community Creative Tech Fund.

Image: Signly translation box

Signly’s application to the Euan’s Guide has provided huge benefits not just to users, but to each company, with Signly reporting on 28 Sep 2023, that on

  • 66 pages activated, surpassing usage on some banking websites!
  • 29,683 words translated, equivalent to length of classics like ‘Lion, Witch and Wardrobe’ or ‘Animal Farm’
  • 2,297 unique visits, capturing 3% of signing community

This penetration of the community within the first year of Signly integration is higher than any party anticipated, and clearly demonstrates both the need and immediate use of such a tool for the D/deaf community and other BSL users.

“Fun. Safe. Kind. I’m excited by the thought of a wider Euan’s Guide virtual community. I get a lot from Euan’s Guide ‘in person’ so would be keen to learn from others and share my knowledge too.” – Euan’s Guide Volunteer

Additionally, the highlighting BSL as key new feature on led to the charity being shortlisted in Tech for Good category in the UK Tech Awards.

There is no doubt that the Community Creative Tech Fund has supported many aspects of Euan’s Guide to work both more efficiently and inclusively for users, and we hope that alternative future funding can be sourced to continue their invaluable work with Signly, which is so valuable to the many D/deaf users for whom BSL is a first language.

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