The UNCRC and the Beta site

Last week the Scottish Government introduced a Bill that would incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scottish law.

The UNCRC is an international human rights treaty that covers all aspects of children’s lives. The Bill aims to make sure children’s rights are respected and protected. “Incorporate” means that the UNCRC would become part of Scottish laws. The Scottish Government says incorporating the UNCRC would help ensure the rights of children are part of everyday life in Scotland. You can find out more about the Bill on our website.

So what does that have to do with the Beta website? Quite a lot, actually.

The Beta site is trying to improve the website experience for all our users. We do that by:

  • speaking to our users to find out what their needs are
  • testing our site with them to make sure it’s clear and intuitive
  • improving accessibility

This means we are changing the way we work, write, and present our information online.

We now have a content strategy that aims to make our content as accessible as it can be. It’s important that everyone in Scotland can understand and engage with the Parliament’s work, and that includes children and young people. So through our content strategy we are trying to make our information easier to understand.

One of the challenges of doing this on a parliament website is the unique needs a parliament has. Some information is complicated, and presenting it clearly takes work. But we know one benefit of working this way is we can reach more people and show how the Parliament’s work is relevant to them.

And that brings us back to the Bill.

Article 17 of the UNCRC says children have the right to get information from the internet and other sources, in language they understand. Article 12 of the UNCRC says that children have the right to give their opinions on issues that affect them. Adults should listen and take them seriously. (Read more about the UNCRC on the Unicef website)

The Beta site can help children and young people realise these rights. We create Bill summaries for each Bill that goes through the Parliament (read the UNCR Bill summary). These explain what the Bills would do, and are written to be understood by someone with a reading age of 12.

The UNCRC Bill will be looked at by the Equalities and Human Rights Committee. They will be looking at ways to hear children’s views, and have written questions for their call for views with a reading age of 10.

Throughout the Beta site, information on how Bills are passed and how committees work should help all users, including children, follow the progress of the Bill through Parliament.

The UNCRC Bill is just one example of how the new site can help more people take part in the Parliament’s work. The more accessible we can make the site, the more we can support and enable people to realise their rights to participate and be heard.