PivotPath

Achieving Digital Inclusion How to Make Local Government Platforms Accessible

Achieving Digital Inclusion

How to Make Local Government Platforms Accessible

Digital inclusion is crucial for creating equitable access to online resources. For local governments, ensuring digital accessibility can not only sometimes be a requirement, but also a commitment to serving all citizens effectively. This article explores critical strategies to make municipal government platforms more accessible and in line with Section 508 and WCAG standards.

Understanding Section 508 and WCAG:

Section 508 is an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was the first U.S. law to address disability rights. The amendment ensures that persons with disabilities are given the opportunity to access federal digital resources at the same level as everyone else. Similar to Section 508, WCAG is a set of web content accessibility guidelines created to guarantee the inclusion of users with disabilities in digital spaces worldwide.

Touching on the importance of inputting inclusive features like image descriptions on presented images and transcripts or captions on promoted videos, both Section 508 and WCAG have become guidelines for those wishing to establish an all-encompassing digital profile.

Strategies for Enhancing Digital Accessibility:

Strategy #1: Ensure Compatibility with Screen Readers

Screen readers are software programs that allow those with low vision or blindness to access and engage with digital profiles. One way you can enhance the digital accessibility of your local government platforms is by ensuring they are compatible with screen readers.

As millions worldwide rely on screen readers to aid them in navigating online content, securing suitable platforms can broaden local government outreach and create an equal and inclusive environment for all potential visitors. A great way to assess whether your local government platforms are compatible with screen readers is by using an accessibility tester. By examining the suitability of platforms for popular screen readers like NVDA and JAWS, testers like Assistiv Labs allow you to see through the lens of over 96 percent of screen reader users.

Strategy #2: Enable Keyboard Navigation

Keyboard navigation is vital for those with motor impairments and low vision. With the convenience of tapping on a tab key to navigate forward and a spacebar to check and uncheck virtual boxes, it is evident that having the option of navigation through keyboards can improve the efficiency and inclusivity of your local government platforms.

So, how can you ensure that your municipal government platforms are navigable through keyboards? Good news! Keyboard accessibility is easy to assess. Anyone with the internet and a keyboard can do it! By placing your cursor on the address bar of a browser and tapping on your tab key, you can start assessing your platform’s keyboard navigation ability and more.

Strategy #3: Insert Image Descriptions on Displayed Images

Image descriptions, or alt text, are written words describing an image’s content to assist those who use screen readers. In order for your local government to truly produce an all-inclusive platform, it is essential to ensure that image descriptions are a part of it. It can be used on an array of articles, from digital documents to websites, and fully detailed descriptions of displayed images allow a large part of the population to experience the content presented to them the best they can.

When writing image descriptions for your local government platforms, it is crucial to keep several things in mind. One of which is that the descriptions should be clear and concise. It is important to paint enough of a picture so that an understanding of the overall image can be secured. An example of this could be describing a person’s facial expression in an image. Simply detailing a person’s presence and facial expression in an image can give the part of the audience who may rely on it a clue about the overall happenings of the image, creating a more inclusive space.

Strategy #4: Secure Captions on Presented Videos

Captions are synchronized texts that represent audio information. Created to assist those who are hearing impaired, the texts can provide a clear understanding of content in various mediums, from presented videos to audio recordings. However, not only those who are hard of hearing enjoy captions.

With more than 50 percent of Americans using them, captions have become a popular method of ensuring clarity when actively listening to audio. So, if you want your local government platforms to be all-encompassing, providing captions is one way to go! A great way to do that is by hiring an accomplished editor. Websites like Fiverr and Upwork offer a multitude of options when looking for freelance video editors who can make your videos more accessible and up to date.

Strategy #5: Keep an Eye on the Contrast of the Colors Used

So, what is color contrast? And why should you keep an eye on it? Color contrast is the ability of one color to stand out when put up against another. For those with visual impairments, viewing low-contrast colors can sometimes be challenging. To fully improve the accessibility of your local government platforms, it is vital to ensure that the colors used have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1.

One way you can assess the contrast of the colors used on your local government platforms is by using a color contrast checker. Contrast checkers like Web AIM and Accessible Web are significant tools that aid people in identifying whether their choice of colors is inclusive and accessible to all.

As we move forward, it becomes evident that digital inclusion is something that all forms of government should consider when creating their public platforms. Promoting accessibility not only helps those with disabilities overcome barriers but also improves the experience of platform users and reflects on our values as a union. After all, Stevie Wonder once said, “We need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability.”

Ensure your government platforms meet all the accessibility tips and tricks mentioned above with ease! Communications and media agencies like PivotPath are here to help.

Renowned for delivering exceptional service to government clients, PivotPath can make your platforms more inclusive in no time.

For any inquiries, visit pivotpathdigital.com.

Written by Niema Hussain 2024

Politics of Color

Join us on a captivating journey through Sierra Leone’s vibrant history and complex challenges in “Politics of Color: The Role of Color in Sierra Leonean Politics.” Esteemed experts uncover the deep-rooted influences of colonialism, challenge misunderstandings surrounding ethnic identities and political affiliations, and explore solutions for a prosperous future.  

Elizabeth M’balu Oke Featured on Cover of Georgia Trend Magazine

Elizabeth M’Balu Oke: Leading the Way to Transformation

In the spotlight of Georgia’s business landscape, Elizabeth M’Balu Oke, the dynamic President and CEO of PivotPath, graces the cover of Georgia Trend magazine’s May 2023 issue.


Recognized as a visionary leader and trailblazer, Elizabeth’s remarkable journey has been marked by her unwavering commitment to driving transformative change in the communications industry. With an unyielding passion for innovation and a keen understanding of the evolving digital landscape, Elizabeth has positioned PivotPath as a prominent force in the global communications sector.

Elizabeth’s leadership prowess extends beyond the boardroom, as she actively champions diversity and inclusion initiatives. Her unwavering dedication to creating an inclusive workplace has earned PivotPath accolades for its commitment to empowering underrepresented communities and fostering a culture of equal opportunities. Under her visionary guidance, the company has pioneered groundbreaking solutions, revolutionizing how businesses harness the power of empowering communities worldwide.

Elizabeth M’Balu Oke brings a fresh perspective to the industry, leveraging her extensive experience and expertise to navigate complex challenges and seize emerging opportunities. Her strategic vision and exceptional leadership have elevated the company’s trajectory and inspired countless aspiring entrepreneurs to dream big and pursue their passions relentlessly. In this exclusive interview, Georgia Trend delves into Elizabeth’s extraordinary rise to success, her unwavering determination to shatter glass ceilings, and her transformative vision for behavioral change communications.

Discover how Elizabeth M’Balu Oke continues to forge new paths, leading PivotPath and the broader business community towards a future of innovation, diversity, and remarkable achievements. Grab your copy of Georgia Trend magazine’s May 2023 issue to gain valuable insights from one of Georgia’s most influential and trailblazing leaders, Elizabeth M’Balu Oke.

PivotPath voted AMONG BEST OF GWINNETT 2022





The results are in, and it’s official: For the second year in a row, PivotPath has been voted Among the Best of Gwinnett 2022 in the Marketing Firms category! Our team appreciates everyone who voted, and we look forward to another great year of providing marketing and communication services locally and internationally.  It’s an honor to be recognized by the people we work for and with daily.

The Best of Gwinnett 2022 contest is run by Gwinnett Magazine and includes businesses in more than 20 broad categories. Every year, Gwinnett County residents and consumers cast thousands of votes to recognize their favorite local businesses.

Our 2022 imPact Year in Review

2022 has been our best year yet.

We kicked off the year with a feature by Gwinnett Magazine of being the Best Marketing Firms in Gwinnett 2021. This fueled our drive and enabled us to partner with 23 municipalities, intergovernmental agencies, community-based organizations, and universities spanning four continents to create and disseminate impactful messaging.

Earlier this month, I was received the 2022 Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce’s Emerging Entrepreneur Award at the Gwinnett Chamber Small Business Awards. The award show, presented by Atlanta Small Business Network, named ten winners the best-in-region for exceptional business practices and entrepreneurial excellence. 

Whether in the field conducting interviews and taking photos for program visibility or in the office crafting messaging and graphic content, our tasks were many, but our mission was the same. Built into our firm’s DNA is the concept of Mother Tongue – authentically reaching audiences where they are to get them the services, products, and resources they need through engagement, education, and empowerment.

We were fortunate to have the chance to prove that no firm works harder on our client’s behalf. That’s our continued mission for 2023 and our promise – this year and the next. 

Happy New Year!  🎉

Sincerely,

Elizabeth M’balu Oke
Founder & President, PivotPath

Elizabeth M’balu Oke winner of the Gwinnett Chamber Small Business Awards

Elizabeth M’balu Oke winner of the Gwinnett Chamber's Emerging Entrepreneur Award

Release Date: December 13, 2022 

Gwinnett County (Metro Atlanta) Ga – December 13, 2022 – PivotPath President/Founder Elizabeth M’balu Oke won the 2022 Gwinnett Chamber “Emerging Entrepreneur” Award at the Small Business Awards, an annual program designed to recognize entrepreneurs and small businesses in the greater Gwinnett region.

The Gwinnett Chamber hosted the annual Small Business Awards this morning at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville. The program, presented by Atlanta Small Business Network, named ten winners among the best in the region for exceptional business practices and entrepreneurial excellence. 

“Ninety-nine percent of all businesses in Georgia are small businesses, making this industry a critical component to the future of our economic health and well-being,” said Nick Masino, President & CEO, Gwinnett Chamber and Partnership Gwinnett. “We are honored to champion these amazing individuals and organizations through today’s program and want to congratulate the nominees, finalists, and winners on their incredible success this year.” 

Rikki Klaus, producer for CNN, emceed the awards program, calling out each of the ten winners by name and category to come to the stage and receive their award. 

Listen to “The Voice of Business Podcast” featuring interviews with the winners of our 2022 Small Business Awards HERE.

The program also hosted featured speaker Terri-Nichelle Bradley, Founder & CEO of Brown Toy Box, who sat down with Jim Fitzpatrick, President & CEO of Atlanta Small Business Network, to share her journey of success from start-up to one of Oprah’s Favorite Things in 2022. 

This awards program comes on the heels of Gwinnett’s recent announcement on being named a five-star accredited Chamber through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce where it credited its members and investors, many of whom were present for today’s program, for their commitment and contributions that helped earn this designation for the non-profit organization. For more information on the Gwinnett Chamber and future events and programs, please visit GwinnettChamber.org/events. Photography by Kate Awtrey-King, Awtrey Media Group

About the Gwinnett Chamber

The Gwinnett Chamber serves as the voice for businesses, facilitating quality job growth opportunities while enhancing the community’s
vitality and quality of life. The Chamber offers the metro Atlanta business community a wealth of growth opportunity by collaborating with
regional partners to drive economic and community development initiatives throughout Georgia. Through its fundamental objectives to
help create quality jobs and wealth, strengthen the community, and grow business, the Chamber serves more than 2,000+ member
companies in metro Atlanta while delivering innovative programs to connect businesses locally, regionally, and globally.
www.gwinnettchamber.org

Elizabeth M’balu Oke nominated for Gwinnett Chamber Small Business Awards

Elizabeth M’balu Oke nominated for Gwinnett Chamber Small Business Awards

PivotPath President/Founder Elizabeth M’balu Oke has been nominated for the 2022 Gwinnett Chamber Small Business Awards, an
annual program designed to recognize entrepreneurs and small businesses in the greater Gwinnett
region.

Release Date: October 12, 2022 

Gwinnett County (Metro Atlanta) Ga – October 12, 2022 – PivotPath President/Founder Elizabeth M’balu Oke has been nominated for the 2022 Gwinnett Chamber Small Business Awards, an annual program designed to recognize entrepreneurs and small businesses in the greater Gwinnett region. This year’s program will be held at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville on Dec.9 at 9:00 a.m. “I am so honored to be nominated for the Emerging Entrepreneur Award by the Gwinnett Chamber.”, Elizabeth stated. “I look forward to witnessing and sharing my growth and lessons learned with fellow entrepeneurs. This is only the beginning of my journey.”

Honoring individuals and organizations alike, designations will be awarded in the following ten categories:
• Community Contributor Award
• Culture Creator Award
• Emerging Entrepreneur Award
• Founder Award
• Launch Award
• Minority-Owned/Woman-Owned Small Business Award
• Small Business Award; 0-5; 6-24; 24+ employees
• Support System Award

“Small businesses account for ninety-percent of all business in Gwinnett and are a critical component to our thriving economy,” shared Nick Masino, President and CEO of the Gwinnett Chamber. “We congratulate Elizabeth on her nomination and look forward to celebrating with them at this upcoming awards program.”

For more information on this event or to register to attend, visit GwinnettChamber.org/Small-Business-Awards.

# # #

About the Gwinnett Chamber
The Gwinnett Chamber serves as the voice for businesses, facilitating quality job growth opportunities while enhancing the community’s
vitality and quality of life. The Chamber offers the metro Atlanta business community a wealth of growth opportunity by collaborating with
regional partners to drive economic and community development initiatives throughout Georgia. Through its fundamental objectives to
help create quality jobs and wealth, strengthen the community, and grow business, the Chamber serves more than 2,000+ member
companies in metro Atlanta while delivering innovative programs to connect businesses locally, regionally, and globally.
www.gwinnettchamber.org

PivotPath: 2022 Sponsor for Gwinnett’s Collins Hill High School

PivotPath supports Gwinnett County's Collins Hill HS

As a Gwinnett County business sponsoring one of the state’s largest high schools, PivotPath aims to give back to the community where it began.

Release Date: September 27, 2022 

PivotPath is proud to be the 2022 Gold Sponsor for Collins Hill High School Athletic Department. As a Gwinnett County business sponsoring one of the state’s largest high schools, PivotPath aims to give back to the community where it began. 

“We live in Gwinnett County. PivotPath is headquartered in Gwinnett County, and my husband and I have two kids in Gwinnett County Public Schools,” said Elizabeth M’Balu Oke, PivotPath Founder and President. “It’s the community we live in.”

PivotPath’s sponsorship will help the Collins Hill High basketball and football teams succeed at their fundraising goals for this year. 100% of the proceeds will go to the Athletic Department, mostly for t-shirts to be rolled out at future games. 

PivotPath is a minority woman-owned brand marketing and communications firm, and member of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

PivotPath and the City of East Orange — Sharing Stories, Building Place, Growing Pride

City of East Orange

PivotPath is partnering with the City of East Orange to create compelling community branding to support inclusive, sustained development in the East Orange economy and community. 

The Client

The City of East Orange is a storied, small city in the orbit of a global megalopolis, with all the possibilities and complexity. Its people and history are rooted deeply in the Black and immigrant experience. East Orange aims to capitalize on its strengths in the twenty-first century while preserving and enhancing its history and assets. 

Based on initial surveys, East Orange residents express mixed feelings toward their City, from excitement and comfort to frustration and apathy. Like any city, East Orange has hidden gems and undeniable challenges. Balancing hope with practicality, fostering well-founded pride, and uniting residents, businesses, and civic leaders will all comprise elements of the partnership. 

The Work

PivotPath will ensure the City of East Orange can promote its cultural, economic, and community potential through a new strong brand identity and effective City brand roll out. 

Our primary goals include: promoting East Orange as a great place to live and work, unifying businesses and community groups behind a brand, and cultivating community pride. The core strategy will focus on cultivating a narrative of hope and momentum that builds on East Orange’s existing known and unknown assets and strengthens relationships with residents, businesses, and community groups. Key tasks will be identifying existing partnerships and assets, formulating a compelling and unifying brand, and crafting informative graphics and place-based storytelling. 

PivotPath will draw on its experiences with cities and counties in urban and suburban America, especially cities that share some of East Orange’s qualities, such as DeKalb County, Georgia. Our team will utilize their worldwide experience in marketing and placemaking to shape a community brand that deserves national and global attention.

Inclusive Communications to the Masses

inclusive communications

By: Justin Roshak and Ashley Przybylski

Every organization needs flexibility, innovation, and meritocracy to keep up in a fast-paced global economy. Inclusion is a core value that supports these goals, and organizations that prioritize inclusion will find themselves open to new opportunities in staff, partnerships, and markets.

Inclusive Communications. It’s a modern buzzword for an old idea. But what does it mean, and how can organizations practice inclusion when communicating with the public?

Inclusion may not come naturally to individuals or organizations. Differences in culture, language, and perspective can be challenging to identify without prior experience. Technology makes it easy to approach the world with a one-fits-all approach, leaving out some audiences. An organization’s makeup is rarely broad as its potential clients or partners.

Focus on Commonalities

Few organizations are built from the ground up to work across every possible line of geography, culture, and language. The staff you have, and the partners you’ve worked with, will inevitably shape expectations—which don’t always fit new opportunities. Worst of all, knowing when cross-cultural communication has succeeded—or fallen flat can be challenging. 

For example, PivotPath has worked on a series of communications projects in the West African nation of Sierra Leone as part of a European Union international development and democratization project. 

Sierra Leone’s residents speak multiple major languages and many minor ones. As in the US, partisanship is a sharp dividing line—the country is still recovering from a vicious civil war in the 1990s. For messaging to succeed in these circumstances, it must be inclusive. 

When developing outreach videos, clothing and skin color are needed to match local expectations. Images avoided signifiers of political parties or regions (still very sensitive subjects) and leaned into shared national identity symbols. Messaging focused on common goals: peace, democracy, and shared prosperity. At all content production and dissemination levels, communication sought to unite and energize. 

Inclusive messaging recognize commonalities and seeks to build on them. It provides a framework for collaboration while remaining sensitive to natural divisions. 

“The common emotions we all face are things I want our communications for our clients to focus on. If we can do communications that bring people together, drawing the strengths on our differences, then we are truly succeeding.” —Elizabeth M’balu Oke

 

Build—and Sustain—a Diverse Communication Team

The American Civil Liberties Union found that “there are higher voting rates in minority communities where radio station owners are of the same ethnicity”. Media diversity stimulates audiences’ engagement through shared backgrounds. But when there is a lack of diversity, the sense of trust is not as strong and can lead to viewers being less engaged, leading to the voting numbers going down. 

And yet, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Hispanics make up 18% of the workforce but only 12% of the media industry. Similarly, research from Pew Research Center shows that only 7% of newsroom employees are Black, but 11% of U.S. workers.

As with media, so too with any twenty-first-century communications team.

One reason the PivotPath team can succeed in the U.S. and international projects is its diverse makeup. PivotPath’s staff is mixed with team members representing different cultural backgrounds, generations, and social lifestyles and brings diverse experiences in sales, marketing, and journalism. As a result, there is a broader pool of perspectives and ideas than if the firm had hired from only one place or field. 

Organizations should strive toward inclusion in all positions relating to mass communication. But this is just a place to start. By building and supporting a diverse media and communications team, your message has a greater reach as it will resonate with a broader audience. 

Companies also need to listen to what their employees have to say. Hire talented, diverse voices, and listen to them. Employees from underrepresented communities can help their organizations communicate more effectively with these communities.

 

Use Person-Focused Language

 

The words we choose can be a powerful tool for getting our message across—or they can unintentionally exclude or alienate individuals or groups. A rigorous understanding of subtext and subtleties can take many years of experience to fully grasp, let alone incorporate into an organization’s messaging DNA. But there are hard-and-fast rules to avoid common pitfalls.

A strategic rule of thumb is to emphasize language that is person-focused and as broadly inclusive as possible. In practice, this can take several forms.

Person-centered language is most obviously useful in the context of persons with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness/unemployment, or people without homes/jobs, which are much more empathetic terms than “blind”, “disabled”, “homeless”, or “unemployed”. The former are conditions, while the latter are unwelcome labels. No one wants to be personally identified with their troubles.

Instead of phrases like “Black and White”, say “all races and ethnicities”. This ensures that groups of other geographic origin are automatically included and neatly elides certain complexities. For example, Latinx persons in North America may constitute an ethnicity or a race, depending on context. This broad approach keeps communications maximally inclusive.

Referring to a title or role promotes meritocracy and inclusive communications. An equally inclusive set of terms is “everyone” or “colleagues”, in place of “ladies and gentlemen”; For terms such as, “chairman” or “policewoman”. Much preferable are “chair”, “chairperson”, or “police officer”. Reference the office, not the gender of the officeholder. Research shows that gendered professional terms have real-world implications when they come up against deeply-ingrained gender stereotypes. 

Politics is another pitfall. Unless engaged in direct political activism for a cause or party, it is usually preferable to refer to “Americans”, “citizens”, or “residents” instead of “Democrats and Republicans”. An inclusive messaging strategy seeks to build commonality; politically-charged labels are often inimical to that goal.

PivotPath’s Inclusive Communications

Do you want to build inclusion into your organization’s DNA but aren’t sure how? Our communication creators at PivotPath have the tools and expertise to help. Contact us for a FREE strategy session.

PivotPath and the International Republican Institute — Storytelling for Democracy

International Republican Institute

PivotPath partners with the International Republican Institute (IRI) to create compelling visual content in support of the Center for Global Impact’s mission to encourage inclusive politics that are issue-driven and citizen-led. 

About the Client:

The International Republican Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing freedom and democracy worldwide. IRI’s workshops and programs encourage the growth of democracy, help democracies become more inclusive, and share best practices from flourishing democratic systems. 

The IRI Center for Global Impact researches the state of democratic politics, ensuring that IRI efforts are evidence-based. The Center offers programmes that build capacity among democratic advocates and publishes reports that inform policymakers and activists on best practices.

The Solution:

PivotPath will ensure the Center for Global Impact has the visual communication and messaging tools it needs to engage policymakers, activists, and the public at large, wherever the work of building (or re-building) democracy is being done. 

 

Core tasks will be informative graphic design and compelling visual storytelling. The core strategy will focus on cultivating a narrative of possibility and momentum that builds on IRI’s nearly forty-year history of promoting democracy and a strong existing brand. PivotPath will draw on its experiences with (re)building democracy, such as the European Union’s governance programming in Sierra Leone and the rollout of a Campaign Finance Board in Suffolk County, New York.

PivotPath voted BEST OF GWINNETT 2021





The results are in, and it’s official: PivotPath has been voted Best of Gwinnett 2021 in the Marketing Firms category! Our team appreciates everyone who voted, and we look forward to another great year of providing marketing and communication services locally and internationally.  It’s an honor to be recognized by the people we work for and with daily.

The Best of Gwinnett contest is run by Gwinnett Magazine and includes businesses in more than 20 broad categories. Every year, Gwinnett County residents and consumers cast thousands of votes to recognize their favorite local businesses.

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